Tidbits for summertime

While the season was made for vacationing,
watch out! Thieves are stealing personal laptop
computers on almost a daily basis


There's no category in the MCLE educational curriculum for doing smart things with your computer. But it's summer and time for some wonderful tidbits that I've gathered from all of you who have attended my lectures and demonstrations of technology in the past months.

Getting your computer stolen at the airport is easier than ever. Several months ago I was changing planes in Las Vegas, went through a second security gate as I changed terminals, picked up my computer bag, and got on the next plane.

After the usual settling in, I opened my case and took out my cell phone . . . wait a minute . . . I don't own a cell phone, or a day book or all this paper . . . this isn't my bag. Hey! Where's my computer?

Seven hours later I got my computer back and the chap in Omaha who picked up my bag at the security gate got his cell phone back. 'Nuff said? Nope!

It turns out that one of the most recent and effective computer theft scams mirrors what happened to me and is now occurring at the security gates of airports all over the country.

Here's how it works: Thieves spot you carrying what is obviously a computer bag and send two people to get in line at the security gate just in front of you.

They arrange to have some hidden metallic items on the person who is just in front of you. So you put your bag on the conveyor and person one of the team breezes through the gate.

Person two of the team sets off the alarm, goes through again and once more sets off the alarm.

You're watching this inconvenience and wondering if you're going to make your plane.

In the meantime, person one of the team has walked off with your computer that has gone through the x-ray machine and is sitting on the conveyor belt waiting to be stolen. So it is!

Often a sophisticated team will have a third person beyond the gate to whom your bag is handed off so there's little or no chance of any person being identified.

Sound strange?

According to the newsgroups that I track and e-mail from you folks, it's happening on an almost daily basis in airports.

Now, assume for a moment that your precious laptop is stolen. Ask yourself if you've taken the following precautions:

Have a good summer.

Martin Dean is the president of newly renamed Essential Publishers, Inc. He also has a new e-mail address: dean@usa.net.