Deleted Files on Stolen Laptop
June 3, 2004 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Here's an interesting one: a few weeks ago, my apartment was broken into and my laptop, my girlfriends laptop, a stereo and a few other pieces of electronics were stolen. My renters insurance covered most all of it (USAA is the best, if you don't already have it get renters insurance now) so I'm not too worried about getting the actual hardware back. But today I get a call from Apple corporate security telling me that my laptop has turned up. I got in touch with a woman who bought it off eBay. I don't really need to get the machine back from this woman as she would then be out the $1100 that she paid and all I really need are the files. It appears the whoever sold the computer to her did a complete reinstall and the machine appears to be blank. So first question: Can someone suggest some software that can recover my deleted files? I'm mostly hurt that I lost ~3 years of digital photographs. And the second and more interesting question: what can we do to track down the criminals? I have the ebay sellers ID: j.a.z.california and the original auction for my stolen powerbook here. This guy seems to be selling a lot of used electronics which fits exactly with the type of stuff that was stolen from my apartment. Anyone interested in scamming the scammers a la this previous post on the blue?

on spellcheck: not in dictionary: j.a.z.callifornia, change to: rapscallion how great is that?
posted by garethspor to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
Um, the police?
posted by lbergstr at 3:27 PM on June 3, 2004

Call the cops now. Know for pawn shops this activity by him would be investigated, especially repeated sold items.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:28 PM on June 3, 2004

1. Data Rescue will recover stuff other utilities can't. If it hasn't been overwritten, DR can restore it.

2. Contact eBay. They'll know exactly what to do, better probably than the cops.
posted by jjg at 3:32 PM on June 3, 2004

If you tell the police you'd better also tell the insurance company. I'm betting they'd rather get you your original laptop back rather than pay you for a new one. And if they catch you hiding such facts from them they may end up being mighty pissed.
posted by falconred at 3:38 PM on June 3, 2004

also, TekServe can recover almost any mac stuff.
posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on June 3, 2004

and TekServe suggests contacting DriveSavers at (800) 440-1904. They’re always good for a second opinion. : >
posted by amberglow at 3:46 PM on June 3, 2004

I second telling the insurance company - if they find out you knew where the computer was and didn't tell them, you could find yourself facing criminal charges for insurance fraud.
posted by dg at 4:21 PM on June 3, 2004

I'm guessing that if you tell the insurance company they will handle it with the police.
posted by dobbs at 4:52 PM on June 3, 2004

You should definitely contact your insurance company. As you've already received your claim money, and you can probably establish (with Apple) that you didn't know that your machine had been found when you made the claim, you might be free and clear. Any other course, however, risks putting you in suspicion of insurance fraud.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:23 PM on June 3, 2004

Well, here's my idea.

In his auctions, it says that he likes local pickups.

The plan:

1.) Buy a computer from him online.

2.) Arrange to meet him at his house/apartment/trailer to pick up the computer.

3.) You fill in the blanks :)
posted by whoshotwho at 5:24 PM on June 3, 2004

A warning: If the counter image on that auction page tracks referring pages, there's a chance Mr. Rapscallion is tipped off now.

Out of curiousity: How did Apple know? Is there some Internet registration doodad?

Some encouragement: Image files (assuming jpegs) should be relatively easy to recover, because they have such a well-defined file format. If you or someone you know is handy with unix tools, you may be able to do it with an application of dd and some clever scripting. That's assuming nobody actually wiped the hard drive by overwriting *everything*.
posted by whatnotever at 5:29 PM on June 3, 2004

The thief may have pawned it to JazCA. So the buyer loses the laptop, ebay pulls the cash from JazCA, who goes looking for the thief.

Call the insurance company and the police. No sense letting this go; the thief is gonna ruin somebody else's day, and somebody else's after that. ebay has a bad reputation for tracking things down, but the insurance company and police will encourage them.

On preview, Spellcheck suggests jackal for JazCA.
posted by theora55 at 5:37 PM on June 3, 2004

if memory serves me correctly, ebay doesn't have a very shining history on cracking down on fraud, so going straight to them is probably a waste of time. Call the insurance company.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:44 PM on June 3, 2004

And FFS let us know what happens!
posted by armoured-ant at 7:43 PM on June 3, 2004

Response by poster: So yeah, I went ahead and contacted my insurance company. I'm in the clear but they want to get the laptop back from the poor woman who already paid for it. Hopefully she'll be protected by eBay. As far as Apple knowing about it, I registered my serial number when it got stolen and the woman who bought it took it to the Apple store and they looked it up. I'm not trying to drive out to Concord and get my ass kicked by mr scallion but hopefully the police will investigate and find a bunch of stolen stuff. If you check his transactions, he sells a lot of used computers and buys a lot of power cables, suspicious indeed. I'll let you guys know what happens from here, thanks for the help.
posted by garethspor at 8:43 PM on June 3, 2004

If you check his transactions, he sells a lot of used computers and buys a lot of power cables, suspicious indeed.

Holy crap. An innocent glance would reveal nothing, but with all of your background information, you can see a real pattern of theft, repairing of stolen merchandise, and the selling of "finished" products. This was an awesome thread to read, although I am very sorry for your loss garethspor.

I kinda wish that you'd post this on the front page, along with your stories, because this is truly fascinating (in an odd way).
posted by BlueTrain at 9:21 PM on June 3, 2004

In Tort law at least, I believe a buyer in good faith of bad faith goods is protected from getting screwed out of the good faith money paid for those goods.
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:59 AM on June 4, 2004

« Older Exporting bookmarks: Firefox to OPML?   |   Homework Help Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.