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June 02, 2011

'Hidden' Security App Leads to Arrest over Stolen Laptop

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

The owner of a stolen laptop proved he was a top investigator this week after he was able to photograph and post several pictures of a suspect – leading to an arrest in the case.

A man identified as Muthanna Aldebashi, 27, of Alameda, Calif., was arrested Tuesday on a charge of suspicion of possessing stolen goods, according to a report from The San Francisco Chronicle.

The victim, Joshua Kaufman, had told police in March that someone had stolen his MacBook computer from his North Oakland, Calif., apartment. Before the computer was lifted, Kaufman had installed “Hidden” security app that apparently photographed the suspect while he used the laptop.

The photos became popular on the Web, with many Twitter users forwarding photos of the suspect.

Kaufman had also set up a “This Guy Has My MacBook" blog – complete with several unflattering photos of the suspect. Kaufman complained the police in Oakland failed to follow through on the arrest of a likely suspect. He had figured out the man’s likely place of employment and whereabouts, according to news reports.

It appears the Oakland police stopped even looking for the suspect because the case was a lower priority than other thefts, The Chronicle said.

But on Tuesday, undercover police had the taxi company where the suspect works send him to pick up the officers, and upon his arrival they arrested the man, The Chronicle adds. The laptop was located at his house, The Chronicle reports.

In addition, The Oakland Tribune reported, in a story carried by TMCnet, that “Aldebashi claimed the computer had been given to him as a gift. Aldebashi told police that he thought it may have been stolen and that he should have known better than to take it.”

On Wednesday, Kaufman posted on his blog that the “Oakland Police acquired my MacBook last night, and I picked it up this morning!”

The day before he let everyone know via the blog, “An Oakland police officer just called me to let me know that they arrested the guy in my photos! BOOYA!”

The Tribune said that a simple version of Hidden costs $15. The program uses GPS to locate devices. “The computer's built-in camera can take pictures of anyone using it, as well as capturing screen shots of users' activity,” The Tribune said.

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Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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