New program aims to protect students’ laptops from theft

William Kammer

While standing at a payphone, a 13-year-old boy tried to call for a ride when he arrived at the Burbank Airport. No one was there to greet him when he arrived, so he set his bag down and set his laptop on top of the bag before he picked up the phone. The boy looked away from his bag for a second, and when he looked back the laptop was gone.

“It was on top of my bag and someone lifted it,” said Chance Phillips-Knecht, a 21-year-old marketing major at CSUN. He isn’t the only student to have a laptop stolen in his lifetime.

This month, CSUN police will start a program to help prevent the loss of laptops and other office property. The program, named Security Tracking of Office Property, will fuse security plates onto property that will allow tracking of objects, said Christina Villalobos, special assistant to the chief of police.

The program will protect laptops, which are high-theft items on campus, Villalobos said. She said it would be “mostly laptops, because of their resale value.”

If a laptop is stolen, it can easily be returned to the owner once recovered. People will register their contact information with the program, and the plate on the laptop will have a phone number, Villalobos said.

“Whoever is recovering the property can call a 1-800 number,” she said.

The security plate is difficult to remove, and even if it is removed there will be a notification on the laptop under the plate as well, Villalobos said.

“It takes about 800 pounds of pressure to remove the plate,” she said.

There is a $10 fee for each item that is registered with the program, and anyone around the community can participate in the program, not just students and faculty, Villalobos said.

“That’s a great idea,” Phillips-Knecht said. “I would totally pay for that.”

Phillips-Knecht said he keeps a close eye on the laptop he has now, but he doesn’t protect it from theft in any way.

“It’s always in my bag. I never leave it,” Phillips-Knecht said.

He said he would be interested in using the STOP program and getting a plate for his laptop just in case.

When Phillips-Knecht’s last laptop was stolen, a video camera caught everything on tape, but he said security wouldn’t run the tapes back, because it wasn’t what that particular camera was for.

Even if the theft is caught on tape, a security plate might be of more use, he said.

Angie Osuna, 22-year-old criminal justice major at CSUN, recently lost her laptop to theft.

Osuna left her truck in North Hollywood and it was stolen with her laptop still inside.

She didn’t have a backup of the papers for the summer class she was taking, and she said it was difficult for her to pass the class after that, but she did.

Osuna said she felt miserable after she lost her last laptop, but she has since acquired a new one.

She said she would take her new laptop and sign it up for the STOP program.

Phillips-Knecht and Osuna both said that the laptops stolen from them were worth about $1,000 when they were stolen.