Remote-Access Login Nabs N.Y. Laptop Thief

Published October 01, 2008

| Associated Press

A laptop thief got caught — after the computer owner tracked him remotely.

Jose Caceres said he used a remote access program to log on every day and watch his computer being used, and then tipped off police, leading to the arrest of a 34-year-old male suspect.

The man was charged with grand larceny, said police Lt. Eric Fischer in Wednesday editions of the Journal News.

"I reported the theft to the police and they were investigating, then I decided to sign on and see what the guy was doing with my computer," said Caceres, 27, of White Plains. "Having remote access is such an advantage, because it allows you to do something like this."

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The computer was stolen in early September, he said, when he left it on top of his car while carrying things into his home.

When he first tried to figure out who had stolen his computer by logging on remotely, Caceres said he was stymied in his efforts.

"It was kind of frustrating because he was mostly using it to watch porn," he said. "I couldn't get any information on him."

But then the suspect typed in a name and address to register on a Web site, he said. A few hours later, police caught the suspect.

It wasn't the first time in Westchester County in recent months that tech-savvy victims have supplied police with information leading to arrests.

In May, a White Plains woman whose laptop was stolen from her apartment also used remote access technology to sign on, then activated the stolen computer's camera and snapped pictures of the man using it.

Police arrested two suspects in their 20s on charges of burglary and possession of stolen property. Authorities said both men had attended a party at their victim's apartment.

And earlier this month, police arrested a 17-year-old suspect. He was accused of trying to sell a mountain bike worth almost $3,000.

Its 13-year-old owner saw his bike for sale on eBay and contacted police. An undercover officer posing as a potential buyer set up a meeting with the 17-year-old, who was charged with possession of stolen property.

"This is what happens when you have victims who get involved and use the available technology to their advantage," said Fischer, commander of the White Plains police detective division.

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