According to an article in LA Weekly, a study commissioned by Dell found that 12,000 laptops are lost each week at U.S. airports. Los Angeles leads the pack with 1,200 laptops reported lost or stolen at LAX weekly. Incredibly, most laptops are left behind at security checkpoints, with only 33 percent ever being recovered (17 percent before the flight, 16 percent after). This sounds amazingly high! My first question is “How can someone not realize that their weight of their bag has gone down since exiting security?” Unless you’re carrying a small NetBook, I would think that the weight difference of a missing laptop would be noticeable, whether you’re using a backpack, a shoulder bag or even a roller bag laptop bag. But maybe with the rush of getting your shoes back on, your belt back in place, and your liquids back in your suitcase, I suppose it is possible to not realize your laptop is still in a bin (or lifted by some quick sticky-fingers).
Whether the study’s results are really true about 12,000 laptops lost each week is true or not, it is a fact that some laptops get forgotten at the security belt, are picked up innocently by someone with a similar laptop, or outright stolen. So what are some ideas for keeping your laptop safe and to ensure it gets back in your laptop tote once through airport security?
- Attach a business card to the bottom of your laptop and include your cell phone number. If you are traveling through an international airport, you may also want to your international dialing code along with any translations of your name and/or phone number (such as into the Chinese character set).
- Attach a bright label to the top of your laptop so it is easier to see once it’s inside the dull gray bin – a piece of pink duct tape works well and does not rip off easily (yes, duct tape comes in many colors now!). Many of us put bright colored tags on our luggage so we can spot them coming around the luggage belt, so think of doing something similar for your laptop.
- When placing your laptop through the security machine, put your shoes on the belt immediately after the laptop. You may be challenged to always remember your laptop, but you will most likely never forget your shoes!
- To keep your laptop within your sight (as well as your purse), only walk through the security machine yourself once your bins are going through the x-ray belt. Try to avoid sending your laptop and purse way in advance of you getting to the other side of the belt. If you are delayed in getting through the security machine, then keep an eye on your bins as they come out the belt.
- Create a little ditty to remember your valuables. Here’s something silly I just created:
Or else I’ll be letting out a curse and be feeling the blues.
My husband has done this with the items he takes out the door each morning on his way to work, and this method has served him well for years.
- If you do realize you forgot your laptop or any other item while you’re still at the airport, head back to TSA as fast as you can (assuming you have time before your flight leaves). Or call the TSA Lost and Found office for the airport that you are at. See Lost and Found by State or Territories Served by TSA.
- As a preventative measure, consider investing in Lojack for your laptop. Lojack is software that will help secure your documents and recover you computer in case it is stolen. You can buy a 3-year license for $63.99. But do this now. It will be too late once your laptop has already disappeared.
- For extra security, consider Spiye.com. This software runs in the background and takes photos with your computers webcam ever few minutes. If it gets misplaced, you can see who is using your computer and their IP address to help track it down. They have a free version to try it out and a paid version for more control over the program.
- Use a recovery service such as Boomerangit.com. You register the items you do not want to lose (it works for anything from laptops to cell phones and bikes), someone finds your item (Lost & Found, Good Samaritan, or the police), calls the number on the tag and arranges to get your positions back!
Hopefully these tips on keeping tabs on your laptop will help reduce the number of missing laptops from airports each week.
I’d love to hear your tips on protecting your laptop. And if you’ve been unfortunate in losing your laptop or having it stolen, share what happened. Lessons learned, along with best tips, help all of us traveling women in protecting our valuables.