Teamwork recovers laptop

Coming into the Royal Purple office on Monday, sophomore multimedia editor Paul Usher had to find a way to explain to the staff why this week’s video requests would not be published on the website.

Three days before, Usher’s laptop, which had much of the video footage he needed to complete this week’s multimedia, had been stolen within the last two minutes of his English 102 class.

“I had gone over to help a fellow student with his essay as everyone was getting up to leave, and when I went to go get my things I immediately noticed that my laptop was not on my desk where I had left it,” Usher said.

Upon realizing that the only feasible explanation for this was that someone had stolen it, Usher said he began thinking about all of the personal information, video footage, work projects and homework he was now without.

“Essentially, my whole life was on that computer,” Usher said. “It was easily more than 1,000 hours of my work lost.”

Yet in Usher’s best judgment, he decided to take action right away. Thanks to the collaboration of UW-Whitewater Police Services and the Instructional Communication and Information Technology (ICIT) help desk, Usher’s laptop was recovered in less than 72 hours.

The first thing Usher decided to do was call home to get the serial number, the make and model of his laptop off of the original box his laptop came in. He then called the non-emergency UW-Whitewater police services number, which is (262) 472-4660, to report a stolen laptop. The officer on the other line took Usher’s personal information along with the laptop’s serial number, make and model and the location and time frame of the crime. Based on this information, the officer then filed a police report.

After reporting the theft to the police, Usher contacted the ICIT help desk to file a report of a stolen laptop. Usher left ICIT the same basic information he had given the police department about his laptop and the theft.

Residence Hall Officer Steve Hanekamp said that with the laptop’s serial number, ICIT was able to track down if the computer was being used and if the person who stole it logged on to the university Internet.

“(The tracking system) will tell us specifically what Wi-Fi antenna (the computer) is connected to so we can get the general area of where it’s located,” Hanekamp said.

In Usher’s case, the thief did use the stolen laptop to access the campus Internet, so ICIT was able to track the laptop and give the exact location to the police station on Monday morning. The police station then sent officers to question the person within possession of Usher’s laptop.

Coming into the police station on Monday to check-in on any progress, Usher received the good news.

“It was the biggest relief,” Usher said.

Usher said he is thankful for the hard work of both the UW-Whitewater Police Services and ICIT put in to recovering his laptop. After sufficient inspection of the laptop for evidence to be used in a future court date, Usher will regain possession of his laptop anywhere between one day and month’s time.

“We know that the property is expensive and important, so obviously we are going to try to get it back to him as soon as we can,” Hanekamp said.

Hanekamp encourages students to pick up a “Copy it to Keep it” pamphlet available at the police station to document important information students might need in case of a theft of a valuable object such as a laptop. In the middle section of the pamphlet is a form that has a spot to write down the make, model and serial number of a laptop (which can be found either on the laptop itself or on the box the laptop came in).

“If you have an item stolen, you’ll at least have the information we need to enter it into a national database,” Hanekamp said.

Hanekamp also said the UW-Whitewater Polices Services offers a free-of-charge Bicycle Registration Program in which students would be able to put a tamer-resistant sticker on his or her bicycle to help identify it if it were stolen.