Increasing number of laptop theft cases are being reported in Oxford, as a result laptop owners have been urged to download tracking programmes and register their devices.
Police figures show that more than 1,500 laptops have been snatched in the city in less than three years.
The statistics, obtained by the Oxford Mail under the Freedom of Information Act, also show thieves took laptops from car parks, hospitals, churches and camp sites.
Last year 625 of the portable computers were taken in 479 thefts. In 2011 638 laptops were stolen during 491 thefts. Before the end of August this year, 387 laptops had been stolen in 290 thefts.
“Software can be downloaded to track computers and mobile phones. There has been variable success with them. It relies quite heavily on signal strength in the area so they are rather hit and miss.” said Former Thames Valley Police crime reduction advisor – Nick Gilbert.
Mr Gilbert, who now runs his own security consultancy in Witney, also said property – anything from cars to jewellery – can be registered for free at immobilise.com.
“If anything goes missing, providing you have all the information they need, there is a reasonable chance if it turns up anywhere in the county, it will be easy to find and recover” said Mr Gilbert.
But he said it was most important to take a note of the serial number because without it police cannot track the owner if they find the computer.
A brand new laptop worth £1,000 belonging to entrepreneur and former lawyer John Moore was stolen in Blackwell’s Bookshop cafe in September but it has not been recovered. The American lost details of a business scheme.
The Oxford resident said he wished he had known about tracking software before the theft, adding: “If I had downloaded it I definitely would have had the computer back.”
But he also said laptops should be better security protected so they were only accessible to the owner, adding: “If thieves understood that stealing a laptop is going to get them nowhere they are not going to steal them.”
Chauffeur Richard Arrandale lost photographs and a family history project when his laptop was stolen from his Kidlington home earlier this month.
He said thieves who take laptops also take sentimental information, adding: “A lot of people keep their personal stuff on their computers.”
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