My laptop was stolen. What to do?

Andrew Wafer
by Andrew Wafer
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  • The most important thing to do is to act really quickly in order to avoid unpleasant situations.
  • First of all, you should install tracking software on your laptop. This software can then be used for finding your device and for securing or destroying your personal data, info, and accounts.
  • Take a look at our Windows 10 security apps section for some articles with suggestions.
  • If you have any other issues with your rig, visit our Laptop & Computer issues hub because you will most likely find a solution.
What to do if my laptop gets stolen

Was your Windows laptop stolen? Do you want to get it back, or do you want to secure your personal data?

Well, if you need to know how to find your stolen Windows laptop then you should take a look below.

We’ve tried to explain to you what to do in this unfortunate situation and also I’ve described the methods to apply in order to prevent such situations.

Your laptop might get stolen in various ways, especially when you are not paying attention to the people that are around you at some point.

Thieves are always watching, so you should do the same thing;

I know that this might sound a little bit too dramatic, but let’s be honest, it’s better to be precautious then to confront difficult situations afterward.

Of course, there are situations that can’t be prevented, so this guide will teach you how to find or track your stolen laptop and how to prepare yourself for this kind of action.

What can I do if my Windows 10 laptop was stolen?

A stolen laptop can be a big problem, and in this article, we’re going to cover the following issues:

  • How to track a stolen laptop with an IP address – If your laptop is stolen, you can track it with an IP address. Certain applications and services keep track of the IP address of your PC, and you can use that address to track your device. Even if you find the IP address, you’ll need to contact the authorities in order to get the exact location of your laptop.
  • The laptop was stolen how to find it – There are few ways to find your laptop once it gets stolen. The best way is to install the tracking software on it, but you can also track your laptop using the IP address. However, the IP address won’t give you the exact location of your device.
  • Laptop was stolen what to do – If your laptop is stolen, you need to contact the authorities first. In addition, you can also try to locate your device using one of our solutions.
  • Protect your laptop from theft – Protecting your laptop from theft is important, and in this article, we’re going to share a few tips on how to protect your laptop and your files.

Usually, a common user is using his laptop for various reasons, which means that on the device there are saved personal data, info, and even accounts.

That’s why it is extremely important to protect your data and to secure the same, even when your laptop was stolen – so you will have to do it from a distance.

The most important thing to do is to act really quickly in order to avoid unpleasant situations.

So, as soon as you notice that your laptop is gone, get to work and track it out and also secure your accounts.

Then, of course, call 112 in order to make a report about what happened and for being able to communicate with trained persons who can help you in tracking your device.


How to secure your data when your laptop was stolen

The first thing to do is to ensure that the thieves can’t access your personal data. You don’t want to lose anything that’s important for you, so you should act quickly.

First of all, it should be clear for you that you can only secure the info that is stored online, through your personal accounts.

Therefore, don’t hesitate and set new passwords for your accounts, download and erase the online data if possible.

This process should be similar to the one that you apply when your Microsoft account has been hacked.

Only now you have to do the same thing for all your valid accounts, including social media websites and cloud storage services.

Don’t forget about your web browser history, passwords, cache, and so on.

You should be able to erase all this info only if on your stolen laptop you have previously installed a dedicated tool in that matter – we will talk about this during the next section of our guide.

So, use this program from another machine and delete your web browsing history along with anything else.

You can even use these tools in order to erase your folders and apps or to display messages on your stolen laptop with your phone number or with a reward text in case you have lost your Windows laptop.

If it has been stolen, then you are sending the reward in vain.


How to prepare for unfortunate situations and how to track a stolen Windows laptop with ease

First of all, anyone should install on their Windows laptop tracking software.

This software can then be used for finding your device and for securing or destroying your personal data, info, and accounts.

There are also free and paid tools, just choose the apps you prefer the most.

For example, you can anytime use LoJack which will set you back less than £30 inc VAT for a year of coverage.

With this software you will be able to get geolocation data within the Absolute Monitoring Centre, finding your stolen laptop is quite easy in this matter.

You can also use LoJack for erasing all of your data from your computer and for protecting your BIOS – all the major manufacturers (Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba).

How to track a stolen laptop with an IP address

Another tracking tool to use can be Prey. Now, Prey will call you on your phone number each time your thief will go online on your stolen Windows laptop.

Prey can be installed for free and offers a detailed report about the state and location of your laptop, which you can access over the web.

Now, on the other hand, you can use tools like LaptopSentry, Laptop Superhero, GadgetTrak, and Snuko which can all capture images from an available webcam so you will be able to see the thief’s face and also where your laptop is.

This info will be highly appreciated by Police, so don’t hesitate and install one of the mentioned apps on your device as soon as possible.
Laptop was stolen how to find it

LaptopSentry and Laptop Superhero can be used for scare tactics too; these tools can be set to initiate a loud alarm sound when a laptop is being – in a running matter – disconnected from its power cord.

All these apps which I have mentioned above are coming with various features that can be easily used for tracking down your stolen Windows 8 laptop.

While most of the apps are paid, Pray is free and it is also recommended for entry-level users.


Track your laptop without third-party tools

If your laptop is stolen, you can track it using its IP address. Many services such as Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Hotmail, and others allow you to track your device.

If you’re automatically logged in to these services or if you have Facebook, Dropbox or Gmail client running in the background, you might be able to see the IP address of the person that is accessing your account.

To do that, simply login to Facebook, Dropbox, or Gmail and in the security section, you should be able to see recent logins.

This section should contain all the recent IP addresses that have been used to access your account.

In addition, you might also get the location of the city, but that information isn’t always the most reliable.

If needed, you can also lock your PC remotely if you use a Microsoft account to sign in to Windows.
Laptop was stolen what to do

If you see that a certain IP address is frequently accessing your accounts, you should take this information to the authorities.

They could then obtain all the necessary information about the IP address that is accessing your accounts.

Keep in mind that other services might support this feature as well, so be sure to check the security section for all your online services and see if they’ve been accessed from any new and unknown locations.

This isn’t the most reliable method to track your laptop since you won’t get the exact location, so you’ll need help from authorities in order to locate it.

On the other hand, this method doesn’t require you to install any additional applications beforehand, so feel free to try it out.


Prevent laptop theft and protect your files in the future

Before we wrap this up, we also want to mention a few ways that you can protect your laptop from theft in the future.

In addition to tracking software, it’s always a good idea to use a cable lock for your laptop.

These locks are relatively affordable and they will securely lock your laptop and prevent any chance of theft.

We covered some of the best cable locks for your laptop in one of our previous articles, so be sure to check them out.


You might also find interesting our article about how to retrieve a laptop with laptop-tracking software


If you’re concerned about your personal files, you can protect them by encrypting your hard drive. There are many ways to do that, and you can use BitLocker or any other tool.

We covered 256-bit encryption software in one of our older articles, so if you don’t want to use BitLocker, feel free to try any of these tools.

Once you encrypt your hard drive, nobody will be able to access your files or use your PC without a password.

In fact, the only way to remove the encryption and use the PC is to format the entire hard drive and install new Windows on it.


Enable Find My Device and track your laptop

Windows 10 comes with a useful feature called Find My Device that allows you to track your device at all times.

This feature isn’t enabled by default, but if you want to protect your laptop in the future, we recommend you enable it. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app. You can do that by pressing Windows Key + I shortcut.
  2. When Settings app opens, navigate to Update & Security section.
    Laptop was stolen what to do
  3. In the left pane, select Find My Device.
    Protect your laptop from theft
  4. Now click on Change button.
    How to track a stolen laptop with an IP address
  5. Now enable Save my device’s location periodically option.
    Laptop was stolen how to find it

After doing that, you should be able to track your laptop remotely. To do that, simply go to Microsoft’s website, log in with your Microsoft account and click on Find my device.

Now you should see the location of your laptop on the map. Even though this feature is useful, you need to keep in mind that this location on the map isn’t always correct.

This is a useful feature, but if it’s not enabled you won’t be able to use it to track your laptop.

If you manage to locate your laptop using this method, be sure to contact the authorities and forward them the IP address and the location of your laptop.


Conclusion

In the end, the most important thing to do is to secure your Windows laptop as soon as possible.

So, get tracking software and install the same on your device and don’t wait until someone is stilling your laptop; take action now and prevent these unfortunate situations from happening.

Do use the comments field from below if you know other methods in which you can find a stolen laptop as we will update this guide accordingly.

FAQ: Read more about stolen laptops

  • Can Microsoft find my stolen laptop?
If your Microsoft device was lost or stolen, use Find my device to locate and lock it remotely. Here’s a guide on how to use Find my device to find your laptop
  • What should I do when my laptop is stolen?

First, call the police and declare the missing device. Next, if your device is running Windows 10, use the Find my device or Find my phone feature to locate, lock, or erase data from it. You can also use our list of laptop-tracking software to locate it.

  • How do I know if I bought a stolen laptop?
Find the laptop’s serial number and check with online theft registries or local police to verify if the machine has been reported stolen. Before buying, request a test drive for the laptop.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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