A QUICK-thinking businessman put his technological know-how to the test and managed to snare a thief who was using a stolen laptop more than 2,000 miles away.
Mike Birtwhistle runs Stores Direct in Bradley, along with business partner David Duffy.
While on holiday at his home in Tenerife, a thief took Mike and his daughter’s Apple MacBook laptops, along with a camera, cash and credit cards.
After three weeks he had given up hope of ever seeing the laptops again.
But while working on the company’s system, business partner David noticed the missing computer had come online.
Then, with some technical wizardry, he logged on, and managed to lock the files so they could not be accessed but took pictures through the MacBook’s built-in webcam.
A battle ensued with the criminal trying to cut off the webcam.
David sent the pictures to Spanish police who recognised the man straight away.
David said: “We thought the laptops would be long gone with no chance of ever seeing them again, but last Wednesday I saw Mike’s mac come online.”
He took control of the computer using remote access software.
“I took control of the laptop, which was still in Tenerife, while I was in my office.
“I enabled a bunch of security options all the time expecting to be disconnected, took screenshots of passports, ID cards and jewellery,” he said. He launched PhotoBooth, an application to turn on the built-in webcam.
“I took screenshots of a guy who was looking the other way.
“He appeared to be working on another computer.”
David almost lost the user after he logged out but after a tussle with the cursor David saved the screenshots and had found his man.
The images were sent to one of Mike’s neighbours in Tenerife.
And after the intervention of the Spanish police, the two laptops, worth £2,000 each, are now on their way to their happy owners in Britain.
David said the story had already become a talking point, attracting huge interest in the pub and the office.