What to do if your laptop gets stolen?


In this day and age, the sad truth is that laptop theft happens. While it may not be a ‘crime of the century’, it can still cause great distress to those affected by it, leaving them feeling vulnerable and out of pocket. The good news is that there are steps you can take to mitigate your loss – if only you knew how! To help put your mind at ease, we have compiled some useful advice on what to do should you ever find yourself in such an unfortunate situation. So don’t despair; read on to learn more about safeguarding yourself against laptop theft.

Overview Of Potential Risks

When your laptop gets stolen, it’s important to act quickly so that you can protect yourself and your data. There are a few potential risks associated with having a laptop stolen—from financial losses due to unauthorized purchases made on the device to identity theft and more.

  1. One of the most serious threats posed by a lost or stolen laptop is financial fraud. Unauthorized charges may be made on any accounts linked to the computer, including bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal accounts, or other online payment services like Venmo or Cash App. Additionally, personal information such as passwords for social media profiles or email addresses stored in web browsers could allow criminals access to sensitive accounts even after the laptop has been recovered or replaced.
  2. In addition to financial losses caused by data breaches and cyber-attacks, there is also the risk of physical damage caused by handing over control of your device to someone else. Criminals might attempt to hack into systems stored on the machine, install malicious software programs which spy on users or infect their computers with viruses and malware; they could even erase all files from a hard drive remotely without needing direct access to the computer itself. The bottom line is that when your laptop is stolen, there’s no way for you to know exactly what kind of harm may have been done unless you take action right away.

With all these potential risks in mind, anyone whose laptop has gone missing must take immediate steps towards protecting themselves from further damage—both digital and financial. We’ll now look at some specific actions you should take if your device has been taken without permission.

1. Immediate Steps To Take

The moment you realize your laptop has gone missing, it’s time to take action. Every second counts when trying to protect yourself from cyber-attacks and financial fraud—so don’t delay in taking the following steps.

As soon as possible, use a trusted device to log into any accounts linked to the stolen computer. Change passwords for all of these services immediately, and if necessary, request new credit cards or debit cards associated with them. You should also contact banks and other payment service providers that may have been affected by the theft so they can put extra security measures in place on your account.

Additionally, make sure to report the theft of your laptop to law enforcement right away. This is important not only because it could help lead police officers to recover your machine but also because having an official record of the incident will be useful if there are ever any disputes over purchases made on accounts connected to it.

2. Contacting Law Enforcement

Now that you’ve taken the appropriate steps to protect yourself and your data, it’s time to contact law enforcement. For police officers to be able to locate and recover your laptop, they first need clear information about what happened—so make sure to provide them with as many details as possible: when did you last have possession of the device? Where was it stolen from? What type of computer is it (make/model)? Are there any distinguishing features or markings on the machine which could help identify it more easily?

3. Gathering Documentation And Evidence

Gathering the necessary documentation and evidence to help law enforcement is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. It requires careful attention to detail for all pieces to fit correctly, with each component ultimately leading successful recovery of your laptop. With this in mind, let’s take look at three important steps that need to be taken:

1) Collecting Documents: Start by collecting any documents related to the theft such as police reports or insurance claims which provide proof of ownership. Make sure to also include screenshots showing recent searches or interactions via social media accounts connected to it.

2) Requesting Files from Service Providers: Contact service providers—such as banks, phone companies, cloud storage services etc.—to request copies of records that could potentially aid investigation into the missing device (e.g., credit card statements). Even if you don’t think they’ll have anything useful on file, still worth reaching out just in case!

3) Taking Photos/Videos: Take photos of both sides of its serial number label so that ownership can quickly be verified once recovered. Additionally, record videos demonstrating how a computer works along with any other footage which might help identify perpetrators; these clips should then be given to police officers too.

4. Notifying Your Bank

Once you have gathered all the necessary documents and evidence, it’s time to take the next step in protecting yourself from potential financial losses: notifying your bank. This is important as banks may be able to monitor any activity related to stolen laptops more efficiently if they know what happened. Here are some key actions that should be carried out straight away:

• Cancelling Credit Cards & Other Accounts: If you had any credit cards or other accounts linked to the device, contact their respective providers immediately and cancel them. Doing so will prevent anyone else from making unauthorized purchases on your behalf while also reducing the risk of identity theft; both are critical steps in safeguarding finances long term.

• Requesting a Replacement Card/Account Number: In addition to cancelling old accounts, ask for new card numbers/accounts with updated security features (e.g., one-time passwords). This ensures an extra layer of protection against fraudulent activities while allowing legitimate transactions to continue uninterruptedly—another way to minimize damage caused by thieves.

• Setting Up Fraud Alerts & Notifications: Finally, most banks offer fraud alert services which notify customers via email or text message whenever suspicious activity takes place within the account(s). Sign up for these notifications to keep track of anything unusual happening after the laptop has been stolen; this can prove invaluable when dealing with law enforcement later down line too!

5. Changing Passwords And Pins

Lost and stolen laptops can be a major security issue, and it’s important to take the necessary precautions as soon as possible. As the old saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure’ – if we can prepare for bad situations, then we are in much better shape when they happen. One of those steps is changing passwords and PINs associated with your laptop, which will help keep any sensitive information safe.

First things first: log into any accounts you have that were synced on the computer, including social media sites or email services. Change all passwords so that no one else can gain access to these accounts – make sure each one unique strong password! It’s also wise to change bank account PINs to just an extra layer of protection in case a thief tries to withdraw money without authorization. Depending on how many different websites & companies need contact this process could take some time but is ultimately worth the effort to protect personal data from malicious actors who may attempt to use details to their advantage down line.

Once done, consider setting up two-factor authentication (2FA) across various accounts well further strengthen the security profile online world. 2FA requires the user to enter not only a username/password combination but also an additional code sent via text message before being granted access account – a great way to safeguard against unwanted intrusions after a theft incident has occurred!

6. Reporting To Your Insurance Company

Now that your passwords have been changed and two-factor authentication is enabled, it’s time to consider filing a claim with your insurance company. This is an essential step in recovering any lost or stolen items, including laptops. Depending on the policy you have purchased, some companies may even provide coverage for data breaches if hackers gain access to sensitive information stored on the device.

When submitting a claim, be sure to provide as much detail as possible so that your insurer can process it quickly and accurately. Include details such as when and where the laptop was taken from, along with what type of laptop it is (make/model) and its serial number. It’s also helpful to include photos of the laptop if available – this will help verify that it was indeed yours which could speed up the reimbursement process! Additionally, don’t forget to mention any other valuables that were stolen alongside the computer during the incident – this important factor too since policies usually cover multiple items in one theft report.

In addition to filing an insurance claim, contact the local police department to file a formal report about the theft case itself. Doing this, not only create records that should need a future reference but also helps law enforcement catch perpetrator responsible crime; hopefully bringing them justice while returning the property they stole from!

Preventative Measures To Avoid Theft In The Future

Although replacing your laptop is a necessary step, it’s best to take preventative measures to avoid theft in the future. Keeping laptops secure and out of sight should be a priority when not in use; never leave them unattended or visible to potential thieves. Additionally, make sure all hardware on the device is locked down with strong passwords, as well as encryption software if available.

Another way to deter criminals is by installing tracking applications – many of which are free/low cost – that can help locate stolen devices and either sound an alarm remotely or provide real-time updates on their whereabouts once recovered! Finally, taking advantage of services offered by local law enforcement agencies such as registering serial numbers could also prove worthwhile if the laptop ends up needing to be tracked later date.

TIP: If you have more than one laptop that needs protecting from theft, consider investing in a locking cable like those used on bikes – this will at least keep your asset physically secured!


In conclusion, laptop theft is a reality that affects many computer and device owners. As such, it is important to take steps to protect your laptop from being stolen in the first place. Installing anti-theft software on your laptop can help you track it if it does get stolen and may even increase the chances of getting it back. Additionally, there are some free resources available that can aid in recovering a lost or stolen laptop.

Surprisingly, according to law enforcement agencies around the world, over five million laptops are stolen each year! This statistic alone should be enough motivation for anyone to properly protect their devices from thieves. Taking extra measures like using passwords and encrypting data will also provide more layers of protection against laptop theft.

By taking preventative steps and knowing what to do if your laptop gets stolen, you can save yourself time, money and headache in the long run. Remember: prevention is key when it comes to avoiding having a beloved device fall into the wrong hands – so make sure you’re taking all necessary precautions to keep your laptop safe!

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...