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Old Jun 21, 2013, 04:17 PM   #1
eugmac
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Macbook Air Stolen - Need Advice Please

Hello Guys,

I had my Macbook air stolen from my car the other night. Woke up to my car window smashed in and my backpack gone. This is the second time this has happened to me in the past 6 months. I've already spend about $500 getting my window fixed for both instances.

The community that I live in is somewhat secluded, so I suspect the same person, someone who frequently comes to the community, is suspected of this criminal activity. I don't leave my backpack in my car but the two times that I forgot about my backpack, both times my window was smashed in. First time happened on a Tuesday, this past time happened on a Wednesday. There are community workers who come weekly Tue and Wed. Luckily I had "Find my mac" installed. Later on Wed night around 11:30pm, I received a notification that my mac had been found. It gave me a street location and a circumference of about 5 houses. I proceeded to use the erase my mac feature, and was emailed that my mac erase process had started. After I received the notification I saw that I wasn't far from the street that my mac was located, and proceeded to drive to that area. The area was a pretty run down neighborhood with most of the homes having bars on the windows. There was one house with the lights on during that time, so I suspected that was the house that had my mac. I called the police, the dispatcher sent a police officer over to my location to do a "preserve the peace." I was ready to go and get my laptop back, but the police officer had informed me that it may not be the best idea to go knocking on the door at 12am, and the criminal has every reason to deny that the laptop is not there in the first place. Since the police officer didn't have a warrant he wouldn't be able to go in and get it. He advised me to contact the detective and go through official means.

I have been checking Craigslist list every hour for the past two days. "Find my mac" has not given me an updated location since wed night. The more days pass, I suspect that my mac is lost for good.

I had a couple questions.
1) I had a password on my mac. How did the thief connect to a wifi network? Did he hack my password or bypass it?

2) How reliable is the erase my mac feature? I've read about this and have also contact apple concerning this questions, but both reps didn't give me a sure answer. Once I "erase my mac" and the thief sees that I have initiated this function, can't he just power off my Mac? How confident can I be that the mac was wiped successfully?

3) I've read, and have been told, that after the mac has been wiped the "Find my mac" feature can still function, and my mac can be located as long as it is connected to wifi. But my questions is, if the hard drive is wiped, how can the thief connect to a wifi network?

Its frustrating that the police can't do more because I know the location of where the mac is. I am thinking of writing a letter to my neighborhood and asking them if they have a similar experience and when it occurred. If everyone emails me back saying either, Tue, or Wed, then we can be pretty confident that its one of the workers that comes to our neighborhood on those dates.

Anyone have any advice or go through a similar situation? I've had my laptop for only 6 months and I really cherished it. I just want my property back. Thank you for your help and responses.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 04:40 PM   #2
MeatRocket
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I'm extremely sorry for you. Having your property stolen is one of the most ifuriating and stressful things because you've not only lost property, you've lost security.

I'm afraid to say that your Mac is most probably never to be seen again. I've advocated for Apple to flag stolen systems in their warranty database, but many here ridiculed me for such an absurd recommendation.

I'm not certain how well the "get back my mac" feature is. I'd suggest on your next laptop, you get LoJack for laptops or similar. Once you file a police report & report to LoJack that the item is stolen, they do all the legwork of locating the mac, interacting with police and even applying for search warrants on your behalf. It's just $75 for a 3-year subscription. I think it'd be worth it.

Depending on what state you live in, you may have other ways to retaliate. In my state we can shoot people stealing our property. I think I'd throw another backpack in my back seat one night, stake out the vehicle and when they come to steal your stuff, turn them over to the police with a few extra bullet holes. Just let them get away from your car first, you wouldn't want any buckshot to mess up the bodywork.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 04:47 PM   #3
techn0lady
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A few things:

1. Avoid advice from "internet tough guys" telling you hoe to forcibly get your mac back.

2. You don't really know which house your mac is in because the find my mac feature can't tell you that. You just have a guess - and that's not really good enough.

3. I have to say it - stop leaving high value items in your car. Since you know your area is breakin prone (twice!!) - stop leaving anything in your car.

4. Monitor Craigslist and eBay sales in your area - you might try looking at local pawnshops as well and pretending that you want to buy a mac.

Lastly, consider this a life lesson : after you had your car broken into (twice!!) you shroud seriously reconsider how you secure your personal property.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 06:59 PM   #4
coldjeanzzz
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Just want to say I feel your pain. My home was broken into a few weeks ago, but luckily the thief didn't value electronics (only took jewelry) so he didn't take my MBA even though it was sitting right on my desk . I looked into Find my Mac as well afterwards and it seems relatively useless since it can't tell you the exact location of your Mac. And you can't exactly go around door to door asking people if you can search their home for your stolen computer
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 07:04 PM   #5
eyespii
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Just replying to say sorry, and how much that sucks.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 07:28 PM   #6
dangerfish
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1. What OS are you running? Your laptop could be connecting to the web during Power Nap.
2. & 3. Cant really answer

I'm afraid there isn't much you can do at this point. In the future, have a password on your account and a firmware password so that they can't erase the drive. DO create a guest account so that they CAN get online. Get Lojack or Undercover (which is what I use). Having software like this will help you actually get your laptop back and send the person to jail.
http://www.orbicule.com/undercover/mac/
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 07:37 PM   #7
SusanK
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eugmac, I'm sorry you lost your Mac and your car was damaged again. I don't have good info for you. The Lo Jack post sounded impressive to protect future possessions. Really sorry.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 08:17 PM   #8
scaredpoet
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Wow. I feel your pain; my MacBook Pro was stolen the exact same way back in 2010, along with about $3000 worth of dDSLR camera, lenses and photo gear.

I haven't had it hallen twice though. That REALLY sucks.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 08:23 PM   #9
eugmac
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangerfish View Post
1. What OS are you running? Your laptop could be connecting to the web during Power Nap.
http://www.orbicule.com/undercover/mac/
It was a Macbook Air mid 2012 model. Had up to date OS X Mountain Lion.

Thank you all for the responses. The first time it happened it was only my backpack that was stolen. The second time is when my MBA was stolen.

I am thinking about writing a letter and posting on the doors of the houses where the MBA is suspected of being. Something like, my MBA has been tracked to this location and I do not want to involve the police. But if my MBA is not returned the police will be involved. I'm trying to think about it from the crooks perspective, he might dump the laptop if he gets spooked, but he might return it too. Any thoughts?
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 09:44 PM   #10
techn0lady
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eugmac View Post
Any thoughts?
My thought is that you would be setting yourself for a libel suit or a police complaint of harassment.

I know that you are frustrated and I know that you want to do something. That's not the thing to do. Reevaluating how you secure your items so you don't have a 3rd laptop stolen is the thing to do.
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Old Jun 22, 2013, 10:58 AM   #11
flynz4
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There very last thing I would do is try to confront the criminal in any possible way. Is it worth it for a cheap laptop?

Instead, I would:
  • Immediately issue a "wipe" command through find my phone
  • File an insurance claim (or eat the cost if self insured)
  • Buy a new MBA, and restore from backup

BTW: Also set a firmware password, and also turn on FileVault2 as soon you you get any new machine. It is the data that is valuable... not the equipment.

/Jim

Last edited by flynz4; Feb 27, 2015 at 01:27 PM.
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Old Jun 22, 2013, 01:06 PM   #12
BJJBear
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****ing hell man, really feel for you. I've been really unlucky myself with burglaries over the last few years. I'm a road cyclist and have had 3,000 worth of bike stolen and just 2 months ago we had another break in where a laptop, playstation and a north face jacket were stolen. There was nothing we could really have done, it just sucks. But I know for sure you don't want people saying it was foolish leaving your MBA in the car, you know that now of course!
I can't believe how incompetent the police are being, it was the same with my burglary in the UK, it's as if they don't want to find the stolen goods/catch the thief. Hope all goes well and you either recover it or insurance pays out. Best of luck
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 06:43 AM   #13
iangude
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I'm sorry but it's people like you who put insurance costs of for all of us. You lost your Mac once from an unattended vehicle, so you left it in again ???

Start taking some responsibility for the security of your valuables.

Last edited by maflynn; Feb 26, 2015 at 07:17 AM. Reason: Removed insults
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 07:15 AM   #14
Newtons Apple
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Even if they pawn it you will have to buy it back. The Pawn store will "accidentally" enter the wrong serial number in the theft data base and unless you want to get a lawyer and take them to court, you will have to buy the notebook back! The Pawn shops have a great lobby and all the laws are in their favor. I was lucky the the poawn shop owner allowed me to buy back my stolen item for the amount it was pawned for.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 07:35 AM   #15
Gav2k
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Bypassing a user password is simple but only if they have not set an efi password. If you didn't then a simple command line gets rid of your password. Luckily keychain won't play ball without your password but it will allow a fresh OS X install to be performed.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 11:16 AM   #16
motrek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gav2k View Post
Bypassing a user password is simple but only if they have not set an efi password. If you didn't then a simple command line gets rid of your password. Luckily keychain won't play ball without your password but it will allow a fresh OS X install to be performed.
To be clear, you mean bypassing a password to do a fresh install of the OS is simple.

I don't think it's simple to bypass a password to access a person's data.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 11:58 AM   #17
Gav2k
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motrek View Post
To be clear, you mean bypassing a password to do a fresh install of the OS is simple.

I don't think it's simple to bypass a password to access a person's data.
If an efi password is set you don't need a password to do a factory reset let's be clear on that.

And if the efi password isn't set it takes one command line to clear the logon password.

Last edited by Gav2k; Feb 26, 2015 at 12:51 PM.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 12:29 PM   #18
motrek
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Originally Posted by Gav2k View Post
If an efi password is set you don't need a password to do a factory reset let's be clear on that.

And if the efi password isn't reset it takes one command line to clear the logon password.
I can't parse this. "If the EFI password isn't reset" ... I feel like I don't reset my EFI password every second of every day?

And what does "clear the logon password" mean? That you can log on (to any account?) without a password?
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 12:50 PM   #19
Gav2k
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Originally Posted by motrek View Post
I can't parse this. "If the EFI password isn't reset" ... I feel like I don't reset my EFI password every second of every day?

And what does "clear the logon password" mean? That you can log on (to any account?) without a password?
what exactly are you struggling to understand?

Ps I've edited the post from reset to set as that was a typo
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 01:18 PM   #20
motrek
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Originally Posted by Gav2k View Post
what exactly are you struggling to understand?

Ps I've edited the post from reset to set as that was a typo
I currently have a password on my account.

I would like to make sure that my password is required to log in and access my data, since I have some sensitive data.

Your posts make it sound like it's trivial for somebody to log in and access a person's data without knowing his password.

I find that hard to believe but if it is true I would like to take action to make my computer more secure.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 01:31 PM   #21
Gav2k
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motrek View Post
I currently have a password on my account.

I would like to make sure that my password is required to log in and access my data, since I have some sensitive data.

Your posts make it sound like it's trivial for somebody to log in and access a person's data without knowing his password.

I find that hard to believe but if it is true I would like to take action to make my computer more secure.
If you do not have an efi boot password set then yes I could remove your login password very easily.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 01:50 PM   #22
kage207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motrek View Post
I currently have a password on my account.

I would like to make sure that my password is required to log in and access my data, since I have some sensitive data.

Your posts make it sound like it's trivial for somebody to log in and access a person's data without knowing his password.

I find that hard to believe but if it is true I would like to take action to make my computer more secure.
Well since the HDD information isn't encrypted by default, if you can remove your HDD, you can take all the information.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gav2k View Post
If you do not have an efi boot password set then yes I could remove your login password very easily.
How? I do not know of any way to use terminal to remove Admin user and/or password.

EDIT: Interesting...
http://coolestguidesontheplanet.com/...sword-mac-osx/
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 04:20 PM   #23
Weaselboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motrek View Post
I currently have a password on my account.

I would like to make sure that my password is required to log in and access my data, since I have some sensitive data.

Your posts make it sound like it's trivial for somebody to log in and access a person's data without knowing his password.

I find that hard to believe but if it is true I would like to take action to make my computer more secure.
Apple has unfortunately made it very easy to reset the password. All you do is command-r boot to recovery then in the Utilities menu select Terminal, then type "resetpassword" and enter and follow the prompts. Just like that I am in your account.

If you have sensitive data you want to protect, you really should enable FileVault encryption on the drive. That is very secure.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 05:04 PM   #24
newellj
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Originally Posted by flynz4 View Post

BTW: Also set a firmware password, and also turn of FileVault2 as soon you you get any new machine. It is the data that is valuable... not the equipment.

/Jim
Do you mean turn ON FileVault2? Not playing "gotcha," just wanting to be ultra-clear.
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Old Feb 26, 2015, 05:20 PM   #25
newellj
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Originally Posted by Gav2k View Post
Bypassing a user password is simple but only if they have not set an efi password. If you didn't then a simple command line gets rid of your password. Luckily keychain won't play ball without your password but it will allow a fresh OS X install to be performed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weaselboy View Post
Apple has unfortunately made it very easy to reset the password. All you do is command-r boot to recovery then in the Utilities menu select Terminal, then type "resetpassword" and enter and follow the prompts. Just like that I am in your account.

If you have sensitive data you want to protect, you really should enable FileVault encryption on the drive. That is very secure.
This is extremely helpful. I have FileVault2 turned on but had never focused on the EFI password. I just set a password. Thank you.
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