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Old 07-01-2003, 04:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
Location: Northwest (the dry desert part)
Securing computers from dorm theives

I will be transferring to a good size university this fall, and will spend some, hopefully not dreadful, time living in the dorms. I have herd of the rampent theft from most people that have lived in dorms before, and wonder if anyone has had any success fending them 'criminals' =) off. (I'm being overly dramatic just to humor myself)

My main concern is the new computer I built, which I sunk a good chunk of money into. I want to not only keep somone from hauling off completely with the computer, but keep them from taking the components inside the box. The case is pretty much your standard ATX case with two side panels and the front cover you pull off to remove the cdrom drives.

I have floated a few ideas myself, but wondered if anyone has a solution that has actually been tested or known to work well. As always, money is tight, but I'm open to more expensive solutions.

Furthermore, I welcome any advice regarding living in the dorms. It will be my first time dealing with them and the people in them, so i'd appreciate any heads up that I could get.
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Old 07-01-2003, 12:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: North Carolina
Just get a computer lock. It is essentially a skinny bike lock that attaches to a hole in the back of your computer (I think you can even attach it to a fake pci card) that is about six feet long with a small loop on the non-locking end.

You loop it to something that the thieves aren't going to steal, say your bed, and then lock the end to your computer. It is not foolproof, but it should keep your case in your room.

Put locktite on the components inside your case, or super glue if you want to get super permanent, just don't use so much that it drips.

But on an up note, I think that 'computer theft' refers mostly to laptops, and even then it is probably not half the problem you expect it to be. The easiest solution is probably to just lock your door when you leave the room. And it has been my experience that the people who were dumb enough to steal out of dorm rooms were also dumb enough to only bother stealing from the floor they lived on. So they were always pretty easy to catch.

Good luck, and have fun!
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Old 07-01-2003, 01:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
A computer locking cable will do fine to secure the entire case or the LCD monitor ( if you have one) to some large immovable object. I hope you're not going to leave your room unlocked to give theives sufficient time to remove actual components from the case. LOCK YOUR DOOR. An alternative is to get one of those cases that have locking side panels. My Antec case has one of these.

you're probably going to be better off watching your wallet,cellphone,watch, etc than worrying about the theft of an entire case.

Have fun! dorm life is a blast...
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Old 07-01-2003, 02:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: The Woodlands, TX
i got one of the computer locks they're talkin about... works great... but the main thing is... KEEP YOUR DOOR LOCKED if your gonna be gone more then a minute... and definently keep it closed if you leave... if they cant see it they wont want to steel it...

~Clatto Verata Nicto
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Old 07-01-2003, 02:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
First, two disclaimers.

1) I'm an audio engineer, so my suggestion serves other purposes.

2) Many people question my sanity.

Now for the suggestion. I rackmounted my computer, and it's mounted in a locking rack on wheels. The case itself locks as well. When you add up the weight of the rack, the computer, the DAT deck, the compressors, and the mixing board, it's over 200lbs. It takes 2 people to carry it, and usually, they aren't pleased about having to do it. This way, anyone trying to steal it would be very obvious, and probably wouldn't want it anyway.

If you want to be truly insane about it, install lojack in it. I have a friend who did this with some of his more expensive equipment, and it saved his ass when someone broke into the studio.

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Old 07-01-2003, 06:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Over here
Rule number 1 is ALWAYS lock your door when you are not actually in the room. If you have to walk down the hall to the restroom, you're gone long enough to be a victim.

Don't bother chaining down your computer in a dorm room...no one will steal that.

Things to lock up and/or stuff away because they are much more likely to be stolen:
any food items
any beverages, but especially alcohol and cans of soda
small appliances such as a blender...
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Old 07-01-2003, 11:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
having lived in a dorm for four years, here's what i've learned.

--lock your door. that's been said a million times, but can't be said enough. lock your door even if you can't find your keys. it's worth calling security to let you back in.
--lock your car doors. the #1 theft at my college was cars/stereos, and the morons didn't lock their doors.
--be able to identify things you think are important and could be stolen. you can put small marks on cds, etc., to identify them later if they're recovered. anyone can say, "hey, that's my radiohead cd."
--don't flash your cash around. rich kids get picked on first, even if they're only seemingly rich.
--don't loan things you care about to people. you'll NEVER get them back. if you loan it, be ready to tell it goodbye.
--depending, you might have a ceiling conducive to hiding things...you know, those with the squares that you can push up? besides contraband, these are good for hiding extra cash, credit cards not in use, cookies your mom baked, etc.

i did *not* leave my door locked all the time, and i had a toaster oven, forty dollars, and several books stolen...they didn't gank my computer, though. (maybe that's because it's a piece of shit. who knows?)
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Old 07-02-2003, 05:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
Location: London, CorBlimeyLand
You can buy little computer 'cabinets' that are a little bit bigger than the monitor and keyboard. They usually have vertically sliding doors and canfit the whole pc in. They are lockable, and you can probably padlock it as well.

It might not totally deter unwanted advances on your pc, but it may discourage potential theives.
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Old 07-02-2003, 12:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
ditto on LOANING....
forgot all about that....
lost a bunch of stuff to 'loaners'. Ok, so I have a few objects in my possession that I know arn't mine, but have no idea who they belong to.......

yes... if you loan them... be prepared never to see them again. Label your CDs, and stuff, so that people will know who they borrowed them from.
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Old 07-02-2003, 01:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
Every dorm i ever lived in had good quality insitutional locks and a STRONG ass door. There's no subsitute for locking your door. Cables and locks are trivial to an experienced and desperate theif.
Old 07-02-2003, 06:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
I always put my laptop under my bed when I left the room. Hey, it's not the safest place, but atleast it wasn't just sitting out in the open. If it's out of view, it probably won't get stolen. Thieves don't like spending long amounts of time searching through somebody's room.

Number one tip, as a hundred people already said, LOCK YOUR DOOR! Even when you are just running down the hall to the bathroom or talking to the guy that lives next to you.
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Old 07-03-2003, 06:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
Location: Northwest (the dry desert part)
Great suggestions everyone, thank you. I apologize for the late response, but I was at the orientation for the school until today. It's nice to know the problem isn't quite as bad as the school website seems to make it, and as Greg700 mentioned it probably is mostly concerning laptops. I know a guy that currently lives in the dorms at this college and will ask him what he does. If in doubt, the bookstore sells the cables a few of you suggested.

I love the responses about other things that can get stolen, I would have never thought that anyone would want to steal half that stuff (i.e. blender, toasters, ect). The lock your door posts were helpful as well, somehow I got the impression (probably from my parents) that nobody ever locked their doors as to avoid sleeping in their car if they forgot their key.

Great info to know, again thank you.
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Old 07-04-2003, 11:46 AM   #13 (permalink)
Location: MN
Originally posted by mpedrummer2

If you want to be truly insane about it, install lojack in it. I have a friend who did this with some of his more expensive equipment, and it saved his ass when someone broke into the studio.


COOL , Lojack in a computer rack! I like it.
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Old 07-06-2003, 09:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
Location: 'bout 2 feet from my iMac
durr: a microwave and a toaster are VALUEABLE COMMODITIES in a dorm! Lemme tell you, when the dining hall closes @ 6:30, and you're up till 2 that morning, you get hungry. those mini-fridges are nice, but really a toaster, something to heat up water, pop-tarts adn cup-o-noodles go a long way towards helping w/ the midnight munchies.

worst thing ever stolen from me: ~$20 worth of quarters.

most amusing "oops left teh door unlocked" moment: cuddled up in bed w/ Juan, watching cartoons late one friday night, and a poor drunk guy lost which floor he was on, and came into my room, thinking it was his. He walked in, looked around, looked at us, turned around and walked rihgt back out. we laughed.
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Old 07-07-2003, 04:03 AM   #15 (permalink)
i've lived in dorms for about 4 ears, and the only thing you need to do to keep your stuff is this:

don't be dumb.

lock your stuff. don't bother with any fancy computer lockdown crap. no one's going to open your case. they'll either grab your case (not likely since it's probably huge) or ignore it.

my college town is medium in size: about 50k people total. it's smaller than the city i came from, but since I'm in the midwest it's bigger than a lot of the towns that students come from. People get used to not locking their homes and cars in small towns, then they come here and get robbed blind. it sucks. I always lock my car. I always lock my dorm room (even if i'm just going to take a piss). The only stuff I ever lost was stuff that I loaned out.

my advice: just lock your doors and you'll be fine. relax and live it up in the dorms. dorms rule.
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Old 07-08-2003, 12:14 AM   #16 (permalink)
Location: Northwest (the dry desert part)
Originally posted by cheerios

most amusing "oops left teh door unlocked" moment: cuddled up in bed w/ Juan, watching cartoons late one friday night, and a poor drunk guy lost which floor he was on, and came into my room, thinking it was his. He walked in, looked around, looked at us, turned around and walked rihgt back out. we laughed. [/B]
That is a pretty funny story.
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Old 07-14-2003, 02:35 PM   #17 (permalink)
Location: outer reaches of space
paint the case pink

no one wants to steal a pink pc besides they couldnt fence it either.

there is also an audible alarm you can get I think called the shrieker puts out like 140 db ! and you cant turn it off without a password.
rub it and see.
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Old 07-14-2003, 05:16 PM   #18 (permalink)
your food and dvd's will be stolen quite easily, make sure you keep your door locked, and dont let ppl be in your room unattended. well, as long as there naked chicks with the webcam on. but i loved livin in the dorms, and i never got anything stolen
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Old 07-15-2003, 11:54 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Location: Reichstag
use google to find this service....

you install a program into ur computer its kinda like lo jack... if your pc gets stolen you goto the web site and activate it....when the thief logs onto the internet for the first time it gets there IP and alerts you to where it is....

i have heard about it for lap tops never actually been to the web site....

i dont know if the answers to the what ifs ?'s.....

i dont know what happens if they reformat...
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:28 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Super Moderator
Location: CT
Take the rubber feet off of the computer, and bolt it to the desk. Replace the screws that hold the case together with either hex-head or torx screws. Or get those irritating ones that hold together Jerrold cable boxes and old Sega game cartirdges.
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Old 07-18-2003, 03:04 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Location: The Great White North
A lot of the PC cable devises have an ear piercing alarm feature. I had one on a laptop.... set it when I weas taking a nap waiting for a flight at an airport. It worked. Scared the hell out of my and the would be theif even more!
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Old 07-18-2003, 09:33 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I've seen locks that prevent a person from opening the case it replaces a screw on the case.

If you want to protect your files on your computer, since there are alot of cases of identity theft, use NTFS file system, hopefully if you have win xp then it's already done for you. Create a password, don't create a hint, use windows 2000 pro login if you are using xp. Configure it so that you have to hit ctrl+alt+del to login. You can also compress the files you want to protect and create a password. These tips are all for XP.

When you buy things of the internet, with your credit card, make sure to clean up cache, go to-->tools on internet browser--> internet options-->delete cookies-->delete files-->delete history-->Go to content tab-->then autocomplete-->del forms and password.

Make sure you create a administrator account, otherwise if your computer is stolen it will be easy to remove data. You can also password protect the BIOS.

You could also bolt your computer down, or use those plastic tyes to secure your cables and so forth. As for your drives, you can buy a case that has a small door with a lock.

Hope this was helpful.

Last edited by zero2; 07-18-2003 at 09:35 AM..
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Old 07-19-2003, 12:02 AM   #23 (permalink)
nah, ignore most of that. :-P

lock your door. you'll be fine.
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Old 07-19-2003, 09:39 AM   #24 (permalink)
Location: nihilistic freedom
You don't need to do anything special at all. Just lock your door! If you live with a roommate, make sure he locks to door too. I had a roommate that didn't like to lock the door when he went out for smoke breaks, so one day I told him that if any of my stuff ever 'turned up missing' because he didn't lock the door, I would hold him personally responsible and he would have to pay for whatever disapeared. Another thing you might want to keep in mind, is the less people know about what is in your room, the less they'll be interested in stealing. I had a beautiful 21 inch Trinitron monitor in my room I was always afraid of someone getting... I strategically placed it so that no one would see it when the door was open. Most of the people in my hall probably never knew it was there.

In conclusion, lock your door. Even if you're just going into the bathroom to shit.... lock the door. Oh yeah, and when you go to sleep at night.... lock it. Once a group of drunk guys went around campus jiggling doorknobs at 3AM. They entered a number of rooms where people were sleeping and stole their stuff.

Last edited by nothingx; 07-28-2003 at 05:34 PM..
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Old 07-19-2003, 08:57 PM   #25 (permalink)
Location: Northwest (the dry desert part)

Wow, thats a pretty crazy story about drunks breaking into rooms. Emphasizes the need to lock doors.

MrSelfDestruct, thanks for the tip about bolting the computer to the desk; very clever tip, especially if worse comes to worse.

I will most likely take the advice of just keeping the door locked. I have talked with a friend of mine who lives in the same dorms. He said the same as most of you have. Also, he mentioned the tip that Moelester mentioned of just keeping the goods out of sight and especially not bragging about how good your computer is. As some have said before, the rich kids usually get stuff stolen first.

Thanks to everyone that has posted and keep them coming!
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:45 AM   #26 (permalink)
Lock your door/drawers, get a computer lock/cable, and NEVER live on the first floor.

A buddy of mine had his two laptops stolen when someone broke through the window.

The biggest problem I had when I was in college was my roommate. He was a thieving @#%$! Stole DVDs, tools, etc. Never managed to get the computer though.

The easiest way to deal with him is to get a new roommate, no matter how much of a pain it is. (Took me 2 years to figure that one out). Housing will never deny you a move if you say that your roommate stole stuff. Or, make something up! :P
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Old 07-23-2003, 03:45 PM   #27 (permalink)
Location: Philadelphia
Originally posted by moelester
You don't need to do anything special at all. Just lock your door! If you live with a roommate, make sure he locks to door too. I had a roommate that didn't like to lock the door when he went out for smoke breaks, so one day I told him that if any of my stuff ever 'turned up missing' because he didn't lock the door, I would hold him personally responsible and he would have to pay for whatever disapeared.

Thats the thing, you have a 90% chance of your roomate being a complete jackass. My advice to you: try beating him with his own shoes. Did the trick for me.
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Old 07-24-2003, 01:34 PM   #28 (permalink)
Location: Ask Acetylene
Locks and cables discourage

but are ineffective to a sober thief. Bolt cutters go right through all of them. Even the thick expensive ones. (although you hafta be slightly ripped to get it going)
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Old 08-04-2003, 07:57 PM   #29 (permalink)
Location: Boston, USA
One thing that disappeared a lot when I was in college was razors. GILETTE Mach III's are like fucking gold. Hide them when you have people over. That goes for the razors and also the replacements.

This trend continued when I moved off-campus to a house. It seems like the bathroom gives good cover for a thief, and those razors are very expensive and necessary.

It got to the point where we would hide the Mach 3's first and basically nothing else when we had parties. It became a ritual. My friend had his nutshaver stolen once... (beard trimmer used exclusively on the balls)

People steal the wierdest stuff I found out in college. A lot of times its not stuff that someone could actually use, its just because you put a bunch of kids with some beer and poof, no more conscience.

I stole a bunch of cd's from a house I was partying at when I was a frosh at college. The next morning I felt like the biggest prick and couldn't understand why I did it. I think it was just the rush of it. I also noticed they were cd's of bands I didn't listen to. I felt like an even bigger asshole when I opened the cases and found out the cd's weren't even in there.

As far as comps are concerned: My resident advisor, RA RO, whatever they are at your school, had his laptop stolen. My school, most likely the case of most, has a centralized network for the dorms. The guy went to the campus IT center and told them about the problem. He still saved some drivers or something from the laptop and used that to get a device ID code for the laptop. He had his buddy, along with the campus police, put out a search for teh computer's IP address or Device ID (The story gets fuzzy here, it was a few years ago) and they found it being used in a room accross campus. So the cops stormed up to the room and busted the kid who stole the laptop. They also found in his possession a couple others.

Before I end like the SoBe guy, try to resist the temptation to have a bunch of miscellaneous dudes in your room to get drunk. You may trust your friends, but ts ghard to trust friends of friends of friends. You can see where I'm going with this..

As it has been mentioned do yourself a favor and get completely ripped for me in the dorms. Don't worry abot your stupid computer or your 12 dollar mach 3's. Don't fret the small things. Get completely wasted and cause a scene whenever you can. I guarantee you won't remember your stolen laptop or pc 10 years from now if it does happen. However, you will remember getting in a dorm-wide debate about some abstract political theory or smashing some dudes face in with a beer bottle, or setting your dorm on fire. These are the memories that really count. good luck.

Last edited by cpomdima; 08-04-2003 at 08:00 PM..
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