Theft Prevention

Laptop Computer Theft

Security is a shared responsibility! Each day, almost 3,000 laptops are stolen. Many of these thefts can be prevented. Here are some practical steps you can take to keep your laptop safe.

Protecting Penn Assets

  • Never leave your laptop unattended in a public place, even momentarily.
  • Lock your laptop in your office during off-hours or, whenever possible, take your laptop home.
  • Lock laptops in a cabinet and make sure all items are identified. Never put office keys to locked cabinets or closets in unlocked drawers or on open hooks.
  • Invest in a lock box for office keys and give the key to a responsible employee.
  • For added security, attach equipment (computer or printer) to the desk or table with a locking device. Do not rely on these locks, however, to protect an unattended laptop.
  • Never leave a laptop in full view in your car.
  • Never check a laptop as luggage at airports.
  • At airport checkpoints, be observant. Don’t place the laptop on a conveyor belt until you are ready to walk through the checkpoint.
  • Carry your laptop in a strong, padded, nondescript bag. Do not use a carrying case that advertises that there is a computer inside.
  • Consider engraving some type of identification somewhere on the laptop.

Protecting Data

  • Keep only the most necessary sensitive information on laptops, if at all.
  • Back up your files and store them someplace other than the laptop carrying case.
  • Pay attention to where you use your portable device. Be aware that someone behind or beside you can see your computer screen. This is especially true on an airplane.

Security in the Office

  • Lock all offices, conference rooms, or storage rooms that are regularly unoccupied.
  • Be sure that doors secure behind you, and immediately report malfunctioning doors/locks to either Security or your building administrator.
  • Watch out for "head poppers," who open the wrong doors and pretend to be looking for a specific office or person. If they act nervous or head immediately for the nearest exit, remember their description and call Security.
  • When you must work before or after normal office hours, keep your doors locked. Notify Security of your presence and the hours and location you will be working.

Protecting Valuables

  • Do not place purses, backpacks, or other bags on the back of chairs in public places, such as restaurants, cafes, libraries, etc.
  • Keep your purse, wallet, keys, and other valuable items with you at  all times or locked in a drawer or closet.

For More Information

For complete information on theft awareness and prevention, see the Penn Operation Theft Awareness campaign.