Man Gets Lead On Laptop Thief Using Dropbox Program

Ryan believes he has a lead on who stole his laptop thanks to the Dropbox filesharing program that was installed on his computer. Turns out his laptop could be just up the street from him right now. But what does he do with the IP address he got from Dropbox?

Ryan writes:

Last February my laptop was stolen from my Brooklyn apartment. We went through the motions of filing out a report and having detectives come to the house. I gave the police all of the serial numbers, etc. and of course, nothing came back.

A few days ago I was playing around on the Dropbox site – I use the desktop and mobile applications a lot, but don’t interact with the site as much. While I was clicking around, I found the My Computers tab on the Account page which lists all of my devices AND their last logged IP. My stolen computer was still in the list along with its last known IP.

I stupidly didn’t password protect my old laptop, so once the thief powered up and got online Dropbox kicked in and captured their IP. I then took that address and entered it into a few websites which gave me an approximate location along with a possible latitude and longitude — which turns out to be just down the street.

What’s my recourse for something like this? Is this valuable information for the police to have? I’m not sure if am going to pursue this any further since I would imagine it would
require the police to get a warrant from Earthlink or TimeWarner to oust the specific address, but damn would I love to have that laptop back.

What would you do?

Yes, go to the cops with the IP address. I don’t know why you think getting the info from Earthlink or TimeWarner would be some kind of onerous chore for them, they do that all the time. Go for it.

And for everyone else, Ryan’s story is another interesting way to track down your laptop if it gets stolen.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.