On Wednesday evening, I got an upset phone call from Jessica aka That Tech Chick who lives down in Texas. She told me that someone had broken into her house and stolen her laptop which she had only had for a few months, and her brand new HP Touchpad (we know those are hard to come by!) that she had only a couple of days. They also tried to take her 50″ plasma TV which was mounted on the wall. They used a hammer to break up the drywall, and ripped the whole thing including bracket off the wall. But, they dropped it. I'm told it weighs 150 lbs or so.
She also told me that she had Team Viewer installed on her laptop for accessing it remotely which starts up automatically on boot, and she was waiting for him to turn it on so that she could see if she could access it. At the time, she was only concerned with maybe being able to grab some of her important files from it. But I thought about it and said “well if you can see him connected, you should be able to see the IP where he is connected.” She asked me if the cops could track that. I said “Yes, usually.. if they feel like it.” (I watch a lot of crime shows).
Later that evening, I saw Jess tweeting that the burglar had logged onto the computer, and she was watching his every move on Team Viewer.
I asked if she knew how to get to his IP address. Then my phone rang. LOL! By this time it was just about midnight. But, I was determined to catch the bastard! I have had my home broken into before (while in the hospital having preterm labor!) and it is not a good feeling. Jessica really wanted her laptop because as she described it “my life is on there”. And I completely understood how she felt.
So, she gave me access to her Team Viewer account. I logged in on the web client, but it was not as feature rich as I would have liked. But, we were able to watch his every move which consisted of downloading photos of girls, and watching porn! He seemed very web savvy, but not savvy enough to realize that we were watching him. He didn't know what the little blue box displayed in the corner of the screen was about. I knew that the desktop clients for such programs usually offer more options, so I downloaded Team Viewer to my own computer and installed it. Once logged in, I was able to click on Extras–>Remote System Info and see her computers name, system specs, and his IP address.
We had the IP address, which could potentially find the culprit with some work. And by then I knew that he was using Road Runner for his ISP. And thanks to an IP map we knew that was not too far from her area. But, we wanted more. If it was really just some dumb kid, eventually he was going to goof and log into his Facebook account, email, or something that would tell us who he was. But, it seemed like he was being very careful. He was saving everything that he downloaded to a USB key. And he was moving very fast from site to site. But then, it happened. I almost missed it. But, he visited YouTube. I glanced up and caught a glimpse of his Gmail address in the corner of the screen. I yelled, “Got you, you $#(&$*#!!” It was almost like he heard me. Almost immediately he signed out and cleared the browser cache. But, it was too late.
First, I plugged his email address into Google hoping that it would bring it up on a blog, forum, or something. That was a no go. Next, I checked for a Google Profile. That did not exist either. But, then I headed over to Facebook and BAM! Plugging his email address into the search took me straight to his profile. I now had his name, and confirmation that he did indeed live in Jessica's town. Then I headed over to WhitePages.com and looked him up. He was indeed listed. And the rest is history….
It turns out that the suspect was not the thief. Besides me aka SuperWeb Slueth, or as MJ Tam called me “Fab Geek PI” (LOL!! I like it), Jess also has a friend at the local police department who was able to help her out by getting her case looked at asap. When they picked him up the next day, he spilled everything! We knew already that he did not have a record. He was only in the system because of a past car accident. He bought her laptop for $100 from some high school kids, friends of his brother. From there, the police made the rounds getting all involved. The actual thief is a kid that has been in trouble before, and is suspected in a series of robberies in the area. We were told that he was going away for a LONG time, or not getting out. I'm not sure what else he was suspected of doing.
Jessica got her laptop back!
So, the moral of the story again is.. don't mess with Tech Chicks!! If we start up our own Web P.I. Services, I will be sure to let you know. 😉 Oh, and after this happened I learned about some cool tools that we can all use to track stolen devices. I will be writing a post on that very soon.