One Man, One Stolen Laptop... And Twitter, Prey (And A Purple Sarong?) To The Rescue

from the and-a-purple-sarong dept

A whole bunch of folks have been sending in random versions of the story of how author Sean Power recovered his stolen laptop despite being in another country, thanks to the power of social media, some open source software and some good samaritans. The "short" version is that Sean had his laptop stolen a few days ago in New York City, just a day before he had to go to Canada for a few days. He had some open source anti-theft software on there, called Prey. I'd never heard of it, but it gets excellent reviews. Anyway, after not being alerted to anything for a few days, Sean suddenly was notified that someone was using his laptop -- and he mentioned it on Twitter. From there, it helps to follow the story on Twitter, and thankfully Ryan Ozawa used Storify to post the relevant tweets:
You really should read the story as it happens, but basically some girl got wind of the story (it's still not entirely clear how... since she's not on Twitter), and went to the bar where the guy with the laptop was. She befriended some of the bartenders and others at the bar and found out that the guy with the laptop had some sort of connection with the bar. Reading through the various tweets, there is some confusion over who's who in this story, but the nameless girl in the purple sarong was soon backed up by another guy, Nick Reese, who just saw the story unfolding on Twitter and (as a brand new NYC resident) decided to jump in. The girl in the purple sarong apparently flirted with one of the two guys (Max) with the laptop, and got his business card. Sean had called the police, but they refused to go, since Sean hadn't filed a police report (he claims he didn't have time before leaving for Canada). Eventually, Sean called the phone number on the card, leading Max to call the other guy at the bar (Paulo) just as Nick and Purple Sarong Girl (PSG?) were confronting him. After some back and forth, Nick pulled out his phone and showed Paulo the photo of Paulo on the laptop from the webcam that Sean had gotten from Prey and posted to Twitter. Not surprisingly, that quickly led to the laptop (and the laptop bag) being handed over...

Nick and the girl in the purple sarong then put up a video of what happened which is both mildly entertaining and mildly frustrating (and it's not hard to assume that the girl has consumed a fair bit of alcohol by this point -- and I think I have to agree with the Village Voice that she may be the most annoying woman in the world) Update: The video has been set to private. Reese is claiming it's to "protect the identity" of the girl -- which seems odd...
All in all it's quite a story. There have been a few people suggesting this is just a publicity stunt for Prey, but plenty of folks are insisting that's not the case. To be honest, even if it is a publicity stunt for Prey, I gotta say that it's fantastically well-done, and amazingly compelling. I wouldn't care if it were a publicity stunt, because then the story would be about how to make brilliantly compelling marketing... But, again, most people are insisting that this was all real, and then the story is just about the wonders of modern technology combined with good people. A story of our times...

Filed Under: community, laptops, social networks, stolen, tracking down

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Grey Ferret, 13 May 2011 @ 9:48pm

    Re: FAIL

    Do you realize that you're trying to say that a laptop thief is the same as "anyone with any sense"? Hmm... I would think that "anyone with any sense" would not make that assumption.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.