Tech support: Owner pulls photos after camera helps track stolen laptop to Iran
Friday 12 April 2013
A British man posted photos of the new Iranian owners of his stolen laptop online – after installing a piece of software that tracked the gadget’s location.
Dom del Torto, a London-based film animator, lost his iPad and MacBook Pro when his home in Holloway Road was burgled in February.
However, an app he installed prior to the theft meant that a month later he received an email saying the laptop was in Iran. Hidden App, which takes pictures using the laptop’s built-in camera, also supplied Mr Del Torto with images of a woman, without a headscarf, wearing a baby’s bib on her head, as well as a picture of her wearing a hooded top in a grey-walled room.
He called the local police burglary squad, who had previously dusted for fingerprints to no avail, and supplied them with details of the laptop’s new location
Police told him that, at 3,400 miles away, Tehran was some distance outside of their jurisdiction. He could have reported it to Interpol, but it would have been a low-priority case. It may not have even been investigated for several years. Without any real hope of getting it back, he published the photographs on a Tumblr blog, called Dom’s Laptop Is In Iran, as an “amusing story for my friends to enjoy”. It was, he said, akin to “a space probe landing on a distant planet and beaming back proof of intelligent life”.
But Mr Del Torto removed the images yesterday after being contacted by the Iranian family in question. They said they had bought the laptop in good faith, were “mortified” by the story and were keen to return the device.
“As the story circulated, I started to receive messages from concerned individuals warning of privacy issues and the possible harm and distress the blog may cause the people in the photos,” he wrote.
Then one of the people in the photos contacted me and asked me to remove the pictures. They were very upset.” Mr Del Torto has now allowed the family to keep the laptop “given the huge error of judgement” he made in “failing to respect their privacy”.
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