Department of Public Safety

Laptop Theft Prevention

Laptops are a target of campus theft due to their high value. Take these precautions to keep your laptop, and the information stored on it, safe.

Laptop and other portable electronic devices are easy targets for theft. In addition to the cost of replacement, they often have personal information and data that can be difficult or impossible to recover and protect.

Theft is the most common crime on college campuses; thousands of dollars worth of laptops are reported stolen here at Brown University each year. The Department of Public Safety encourages you to actively prevent crime or larceny of your laptop by taking the following steps.

Laptop Theft Prevention Tips

  • Never leave your laptop out in the open and unattended.
    • Even in a locked vehicle, never leave a laptop in plain sight where they are subject to a “smash and grab" type theft.
  • Don't let unaccompanied strangers wander around in your dorm or workplace.
    • Offer assistance and deliver visitors to their destinations.
  • Keep doors and windows to your dorm or apartment locked at all times. Never prop open your door.
  • Lock your laptop in your office prior to leaving the office each day.
  • Carry your laptop in a nondescript carrying case, briefcase, or bag. Placing it in a case designed for computers is an immediate alert to thieves that you have a laptop.
  • Apply distinctive paint markings or laptop covers to make your laptop unique and easily identifiable.
  • Write down the serial number and model number of your laptop and keep it in a safe secure place.
  • Back up your information on hard drives. Store them at home or office in a safe place. Back up important data daily. 
  • Use your laptops (USS) Universal Security Slot to attach to a cable and lock and secure it to a stationary unbreakable object
  • Consider purchasing one of the new theft alarm systems (theft retrieval program / tracking and recovery) made for laptops. Compu-trace, Lojack, etc.
  • Return the completed warranty card to the manufacturer. This may help “flag it” if a thief ever sends it in the maintenance.
  • If privately owned, make sure the laptop is covered by the homeowner's insurance policy. A rider or special insurance policy may be needed.
  • Do not leave sensitive data on the computer, i.e. social security numbers, student information, personal phone numbers, or credit card numbers.
    • Full disk encryption software is highly recommended when laptops must contain sensitive data or credit card numbers.

Laptop Registration Program

The Department of Public Safety offers a free laptop registration program “Operation I.D.” to members of the Brown University Community to deter theft and to assist in the recovery of stolen property.

When you register your laptop with DPS officers in person or at special events, information about your laptop is collected.  A visible theft deterrent sticker is placed on the top (or bottom) of the laptop. You may register as many laptops or other personal items as you need. Call the DPS Crime Prevention Unit for either Mark Perry or Thomas Shelton, (401) 863-1438 or (401) 863-1079 for an appointment.

Experience a Theft?

If you do experience a theft of your laptop or any other item, please contact the Department of Public Safety as soon as possible. Make sure a police report is filed by calling DPS at (401) 863-3322.