Rexburg laptop theft increases
Theft of high-priced technology items across the United States has increased over the last several years.
Capt. Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police said the most frequently stolen items on the BYU-Idaho campus are laptops and cell phones.
According to a Forbes article, laptops and cellphones are the two most frequently stolen items across the entire nation.
According to the same article, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center reported a 48 percent increase in laptop theft and phone theft — an increase of 33 percent over the last two years.
Various technologies and applications are available to help technology owners track their lost or stolen devices.
In their last World Wide Developers Conference, Apple announced security upgrades to their iOS operating system, which runs on iPhones, iPods and iPads.
According to Apple, the “New security features in iOS 7 make it harder for anyone who’s not you to use or sell your device. Now turning off Find My iPhone, an application used to track an iPhone or iPad when it is lost, or erasing your device requires your Apple ID and password.”
According to Apple, security features like those announced by Apple are also available to other smartphone users through security applications.
Similar security applications are available for laptop computers that help owners track them if they are lost or stolen.
Some security programs can pinpoint a device’s location and take pictures of whoever has the item.
Technology companies may be implementing more security into their devices, but Lewis said that he does not believe this will mean a decrease in thefts.
“I don’t think [thefts will decrease],” he said. “Show me a technology that has been invented or that is on the market that somebody hasn’t beat, that someone hasn’t found a way to circumvent that security.”
Sometimes items are lost instead of stolen. Several resources are available to assist in finding lost items.
Students can check for missing items at the lost and found which is located at the Ask BYU-I desk in the Manwaring Center.
N’Krysta Kramer, a sophomore majoring in university studies, works at the Ask BYU-I help desk in the MC.
She said that during her shifts at the desk, she sees about two laptops turned in per week.
“There are a lot more [laptops] turned in than I thought,” she said.
Rexburg police also assist in the recovery of lost and stolen items.
Lewis said that the solvability rate for the Rexburg Police Department is over 50 percent of cases.
He said that sometimes items are found and sometimes they are not.
“We had a case a few weeks ago, we aren’t sure if [an iPhone] was stolen or if it fell off a car,” he said. “[The owner] used [a tracking program] to track the phone down to Provo, where it was recovered by the police.”
While Apple products top the list of stolen items, Lewis said that it does not matter what the brand of a phone or computer is, people will still take it.
If a theft occurs, Lewis said that the first thing that a person should do is contact the police.
While laptops are sometimes turned in to or recovered by police, this is not always the outcome.
Lewis said that the number one thing students can do to keep their laptops and cell phones from being stolen is to keep track of them. He said that people should lock devices up or keep them on their person.
He also said that in the end, preventing theft is the responsibility of the owner.
“Be responsible with [your] property,” he said. “Don’t leave that door open for someone to steal.”
Students can contact the Ask BYU-I help desk at 208-496-1411 or at www.byui.edu/student-support.