Your laptop might soon be worthless to a thief cruising campus for a computer.
That's because the Department of Safety and Security, Information Technology, and Bowdoin Student Government have teamed up to help students install pairs of theft-prevention plates on their portable computers. One plate warns potential bandits against lifting the laptop, and the other displays a tracking number and a phone number to call if the computer is found without its owner.
Should the thief summon the 800 pounds of pressure necessary to pull the plates off, he will discover a permanent tattoo that declares the computer stolen property and offers a phone number. That statement means that there is no financial advantage to stealing a computer.
"The laptop has no value for resale on the street," Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols said. A pawn-shop owner, for instance, would likely refuse to buy the computer and instead call the number or the police.
Nichols said the No. 1 benefit of the plates is the deterrent value that they offer, since the warnings and threats will indicate to a potential thief that the crime isn't worth it. Should a student misplace a laptop, the plates also help a person who finds the computer return it to the owner.
While none have been stolen this year, Nichols estimated that 10 to 12 laptops were taken from campus last year. He said that some of the laptops were sold on the streets of Boston. In conjunction with police, Security recovered some of the computers stolen last year.
"We work the cases hard, and we don't give up on them," Nichols said.
The laptop plates, which are sold under the STOP Security Tracking of Office Property brand, can be purchased at Security's office in Rhodes Hall.
The plates are being offered to students for $10 each. Nichols said CIO Mitch Davis and Director of Consulting and Support Rebecca Sandlin helped provide funding for a bulk order of 500 pairs. When ordering individually through STOP, customers typically pay about $25 per set.
Nichols said interested students can bring their laptops to Office Coordinator Amy Dionne. Dionne will install the plates and bill the student's account through the Bursar's office. The plates remain active for the life of the computer.
"It's one-stop shopping," Nichols said.
Dionne will also enter the tracking number and computer's serial number into a database. If the computer is ever stolen, Security can work with the Brunswick Police Department to send the information to the FBI's National Crime Information Center, which police departments across the U.S. use to help identify stolen property. If a student sells his or her registered laptop, he or she can notify STOP that the laptop is legally changing hands.
Nichols said he learned about the program when contacted by STOP.
"I was intrigued, because last year, we wanted to do more," he said.
Security is working with student government to make students aware of the program, Nichols said. He also encouraged students to purchase a locking cable through the Bowdoin Bookstore and contact IT about installing tracking software that the College offers.