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How not to lose your laptop

And what you should do if you do


"I've found two laptops in the back of my cab," says John Curwood, "luckily I knew the building they came from and I was able to drop them back." But without a bit of forethought, you might not be so lucky.

Curwood, a London cabbie for 24 years, has seen it all. Brains and cost don't seem to stop people leaving things behind: "people get frustrated and distracted. It's rush, rush, rush these days."

He's found a Maharaja's gold bangle, a professor's lecture notes and more phones than you can shake a stick at. He caught up with one woman who had left a small bag in the back of his cab. Her reaction? "Thank God - there's �100,000 of diamonds in there."

Does such honesty bring in the tips? "You'd have thought so, wouldn't you?" says Curwood ruefully.

The Maharaja's treasure went through the full lost property procedure. Curwood dropped it off at a police station, filled in a form and, since it wasn't claimed after three months, got to keep it.

In 6 months in London alone, a staggering 63,135 mobile phones (an average of 3 per taxi), 5,838 Pocket PCs and 4,973 laptops were left in licensed taxi cabs, according to a survey conducted by security firm Pointsec.

It got me thinking. I put on my boffin hat and invented a gadget that will save businesses thousands of pounds every year. It's called the Laptop Leash. One end loops round your belt or watch strap. The other attaches to your laptop case (or handbag or briefcase). The two ends are linked by a thin, spring-loaded metre-long cable. Try leaving your laptop behind now. Impossible! MI5 alone will buy hundreds.


The problem is that the laptop leash exists only in my imagination. Until I get round to building it, you need to take some different precautions:

Label your laptop so it can be returned to you and note the serial number so you can prove ownership

Cabbies are generally honest (their licence renewal comes with a police check) so it pays to contact the lost property office

Make staff aware of their responsibilities. Increase accountability by signing out laptops to individuals or docking pay for the insurance excess on a stolen or lost laptop.

Consider using encryption for sensitive documents (Microsoft Windows XP can do this for you)

Make sure you have backups of all the documents on the laptop

Tip big!

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