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The Break In

We very recently had our home broken into. It was a horrible experience of an invasion of privacy and security. Our home no longer feels like our home. It doesn’t feel safe. It doesn’t feel like our home. I wish this never happens to you. However, I want to share what I learned from this experience so you can act in a better way.

Before:
1) Write down the serial numbers for all of you valuable possessions. Seriously. Especially guns. The more info you can give police, the better.
2) Enable tracking locations on your electronic devices. Apple products have built in apps for this and they are extremely valuable.
3) Always deadbolt your locks; no matter how long you will be gone.
4) Put guns and valuables, that are not needed immediately, in a safe. And if the safe doesn’t weigh 1,000 lbs, it probably a good idea to have that safe bolted down to the floor.
5) Password protect all devices and online accounts with good passwords.
6) Doesn’t hurt to keep your receipts of expensive items for insurance purposes.
7) Assess the security needs of your residence.

Find whatever practicality you can from this list and my suggestions are not inclusive.

After:
1) Call the police.
1a) Create an action plan for you to follow. It will be hard to be calm, but a checklist can help you prioritize and make smart decisions.
2) If you electronic devices are stolen – change all of your passwords. Emails, Credit Cards, Banking, etc. If you were connected to any account online, change the passwords.
2a) Another part of this is to end all other open browsing sessions you may have open. However, you can use this to potentially track down the thief. More on that below.
3) If you have an Apple product stolen, report it to Apple Support and track the hell out of the device. Enable a notification when it comes online and enable locking the damn thing. Do not ask to erase the device right away. If you do decide to erase the device, as soon goes online it will begin the erasing process and you’ll only be able track the location for just 24 hrs.
4) You can check classified ads and go to pawn shops… but really… get back to life….
5) Take a good inventory check. No sense in rushing your list of reported items.

SO… Here is what I did.

The only thing we could track was my MacBook Air. I went a little crazy and enabled basically all “Find My Phone” settings on the app – notify me, play a sound, display a message (I should have said, “Lost MacBook. Reward given. No cops.” instead of saying, “$%#@ you! Thief.”), erase (mistake.. maybe?), etc. If I had the chance, I would have locked it and had it notify me of the location. I played it safe, assuming that I would never have the chance to get my MacBook and chose erase, which trumps all other options.

About a week after the fact I began to think more deeply about the laptop. It had to be accessed soon, right! Sure enough, a week later, I got an email notifying me that my laptop had been erased. It came in around 2 AM. My mind was racing. The erase option didn’t give me a location. I began to do a little more research.

Remember above, where I said you can end other browsing sessions? Well, I knew I had open browsing sessions of Gmail on my laptop, but I had gone and logged into my work computer, my phone, and all over the place that tracking browsing sessions to an unknown IP address was impossible. However, I had not accessed my Dropbox (DP) in quite awhile and it was only installed on that MacBook (MB) air.

Dropbox last browsing session
Here were my assumptions, I still don’t know if they are true:
1) My MB had been accessed. How they did it, I do not know.  
2) Even though I chose to erase my MB, my DP application was still in place. 
3) My home IP address hasn’t been changed for a while…. or rather, before or after the break-in. Meaning, if my MB had accessed the internet from a new IP, I would know where it was. 
When I looked in my settings in DP and saw my last browsing session was from a different IP address than those that I knew, my heart began to race. I looked up the IP address (75.169.11.69).

The address associated with the IP address

Kearns, UT. Now, you ask yourself, what are am I going to do? If these are the people who stole my stuff, they know where I live. If they are willing to break into my home, what else are they willing to do? Plus, I am not a techie. I don’t even know 100% this is real. Plus, I am not some tough guy who is going to break legs…Then, the next morning hits me in the opposite direction.

Google Maps 

Again, in the wee hours of the morning, I get a notification that my MB has been found. I don’t see this until the morning. Its located just south of Liberty Park. I know the area as I have played softball at that park. It give me an approximate location. I do nothing. I go to work. I haven’t thought this far ahead. I never thought I would find my stuff again.

I turn on the notification again and….

Boom. In the afternoon I get another notification that it is in the same place! So… I call the cops on our case…

Who refer me to the SLC PD, as its in their jurisdiction. I call them and they let me know their policy is to assist in the recovery and it isn’t prioritized. Fine. By this time the laptop has been online and tracked 20 or so mins. I can actually see that the battery is running low.

I am unfortunately 30 minutes away from the location. I drive like a mad man and I call the SLC PD again when I am close. They let me know that it could be a minute. At this point in the story you have probably picked up on a pattern. Hindsight is 20/20.

I wait for the cops for an hour. I get it. They have other stuff going on… domestic disputes, drugs, whatever… We knock on the persons door and surprise surprise no one is home. I kind of kick myself that I waited. I should have pounced when I had the chance – before reality sunk in. I must tell you, when I was notified of the location and was headed to it, I was so amped. I was so so high…. Then it crashed just as quickly with a knock on the front door of a tiny green house, with barking dogs in the window, and only street parking provided.

By this point I realize that this search is coming to a close. There are too many unknowns. The device is no longer online. I cannot track the computer again in a few short hours. The person, who accessed the computer, could very well be the person who stole it from me (which creates a number of problems). And finally, the accuracy of the location is not as exact as phones.

I dropped the case. It was so much of a roller coaster of emotions and energy spent, that I felt it was time to move on. Was I going to sit in the neighborhood until the person got home? Confront them? Part of me still wants to. The part of me that thinks I was robbed by someone in Kearns, who pawned my stuff, and then bought by someone who lives on Sherman Ave in SLC.

You’re probably screaming at the screen right now! You want justice. How can I be letting this go? I think it is part of our nature to expect a resolution, to demand payment, that justice is served. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes, the bad guy/gal gets away. 

1 thought on “The Break In”

  1. We could kill their lawn. We could egg their car. We could install high-pitch noise devices all over their house so they think they're going crazy. There are a lot of options for justice.

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