Security expert Bruce Schneier recently had an interesting blog post referring to a study by the Ponemon Institute. In a study sponsored by laptop maker, Dell, they concluded that approximately 12,000 laptops are lost or stolen every week in US airports and that two-thirds are never claimed. While I view those figures with a healthy dose of skepticism, I do believe that the number is no doubt quite large.
Although as Schneier points out some TSA employees do steal, there are dishonest people everywhere. I believe that people are basically honest and will try to do the right thing and that includes TSA personnel taking extra effort to get lost property back to their owners including a system to track lost items. I've personally had a pleasant experience with honest folks going the extra mile to help out a stranger. A few years back I lost my BlackBerry in a cab on the way to O'Hare airport in Chicago and didn't realize it until I had gone through security and was at the boarding gate. The cab driver found it after dropping me off, returned to the airport, and gave it to the TSA people at security. The TSA personnel figured out who it belonged to by looking at the "owner" information and called my office. About that time I discovered that I had lost my BlackBerry and called my office to report it and to have them disable it when they informed me that the TSA was on the other line and that I could pick it up at security. What a relief!
Because of this I believe that if you accidentally leave your PC behind at airport security or some other place many people will try to get it back to you. So let's make it easy for them to help us. We routinely put luggage tags on all our luggage but put nothing on those laptops with all that valuable company information.
So for the tip: Make it easy for people to reunite you with your lost laptop by taping your business card to the PC.
That's it, plain and simple, but effective. Sometimes the best solutions are low-tech or even no-tech. There is no guarantee that this will get your laptop back but without any identifying information on it the you know its not going to happen. If you are in charge of PCs you may want to get someone's business card when you give them a new PC and tape it on for them. Who know it may save you a lot of trouble recreating their data for them when it is lost.
Thanks to Vinnie Mirchandani for the link on screener's system to track lost items.
"Luggage Tag" photo - Microsoft clip art