Baggage Claim

Hello, I’m Oliver (aka SuitCase.) Visit the comic I help make, dig around my old website, tweet at me, ask me stuff on Spring.me or email me.

We Were Burgled

My new computer.

Stupid word, burgle.

On Wednesday, we went to my mother’s place to take care of the dog for the day. She has been barking since the move, and so we were supposed to be there to walk her and stop her from being a nuisance. Which we did! We brought our phones and laptops along (thank God.) And then we went home around 9pm, stopping for groceries on the way.

At 10:50pm, we opened the front gate of our apartment (we have a strange internal courtyard thing, as we live within a secure hotel complex.) This made a noise, and I heard some scuffling inside the unit as I approached the front door. After unlocking the door, I quickly walked down the hallway, first noticing that all the lights were on, then that my iMac was gone, then that the back window was wide open with the flyscreen pushed out.

After dropping our grocery bags, I rushed to unlock the back door (which exits onto a private service lane adjacent to a car park), and yelled at Veronica to run to the right while I ran left, in the hope that we could identify who was fleeing. They must have bolted out very quickly, because I did not see or hear anything from the point I walked through the hallway all the way up until I walked to a major intersection, seeing nothing of interest. Veronica didn’t see anything either.

While I was running up to the intersection to look for any strange figure carrying a giant 27” computer, I dialled 000 on my phone and, huffing and puffing, called for the police to come and reported the burglary detail-by-detail. While I was on the phone to police, I searched for other things stolen — our Playstation 3, and some carry-on luggage — while Veronica got the building security involved and started to get some of the neighbours together.

We found out that while most people were unaware of anything happening, our next-door-neighbour heard something loud “like moving furniture” around 10:15, and that the security patrol had last walked past our back door at about the same time, and didn’t see the unattached flyscreen. We also discovered that they left a sweaty old shirt on the desk where the iMac was.

My mother came over, and after we spoke to the police and security and sorted it all out, we carefully locked the window and stayed at my mother’s for the night, returning the next morning for forensics to check for fingerprints and other evidence. They didn’t get much, but they found that the shirt was a good candidate for DNA evidence, and that if the thief had DNA on file it’d likely match them. We also discovered that they stole our foreign money hidden in a box (kept from BCB Store orders: about $180 USD and €60) and my HP Pre 3 phone I had sitting loose.

So it has been a day. My guess as to what happened is this: they noticed our lights were off, and investigated the window. They realised the fly screen could be removed easily, and used some sort of technique to push the window open (it was ajar, but jammed to be only open an inch or so with a wooden stick). They entered the place after 10:20, making a fair bit of noise in doing so. Then they had a look around and disconnected the computer and Playstation, and when we entered at 10:50, they bolted, maybe into a car, so that we did not see them. It was obvious that we startled them — they surely did not mean to leave the shirt, as well as my digital SLR camera which was sitting right beside it. I also found that the iMac was turned off about two minutes before we opened the gate, so they might not have been in for very long.

It’s basically out of our hands now, and even though there are security cameras to look at and the DNA matching to do, I believe that we will only be contacted if somehow the computer or other items are located.

We didn’t lose any data except the save games on the PS3. The iMac was fully backed up to a Time Capsule, which, miraculously, was left on the desk. We have contacted our insurance company, and are awaiting a decision. Having read our policy, I believe we will be fully covered for all items, but I am not sure how they plan to replace an original American PS3 or a never-sold-at-retail Pre 3 phone.

Some interesting notes: we had some kind of sword in the house, and it looks like they took it. The sword was something rescued out of a bin that I was seeking to throw away when nobody was looking — I’d rather not talk about it — and it was lying under the couch. I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t get a chance to confront the thieves, given this.

I also have tried to track the iMac. It has “Find my Mac” installed on it, so I was able to instruct Apple to Remote Wipe the hard drive it the next time it comes online. This would be very nice as it contains sensitive information, providing it falls into the hands of a person who will dig hard enough to find that information. However: I think have a login password set on it, so unless they plug it into a network (or use the Wi-Fi icon in the top right) while it is at that login screen, it won’t be able to contact Apple and won’t be able to wipe itself. There is a chance that the “Find my Mac” thing will stay resident in the hidden recovery partition and activate even if they clear out my installation, but there’s no good information about this on the internet, and calling AppleCare to find out how it worked was a big waste of time.

One big mystery remains, however. Take a look at these IRC logs of a chatroom my iMac was connected to:

[10:49] * SuitCase (~SuitCase@PSI-F084CF91.static.internode.on.net) Quit (Ping timeout)
[11:06] * SuitCase (~SuitCase@PSI-F084CF91.static.internode.on.net) has joined #lemonade
[11:12] * SuitCase (~SuitCase@PSI-F084CF91.static.internode.on.net) Quit (Quit: SuitCase)
[11:13] * SuitCase (~SuitCase@PSI-F084CF91.static.internode.on.net) has joined #lemonade
[11:18] * SuitCase (~SuitCase@PSI-F084CF91.static.internode.on.net) Quit (Quit: SuitCase)

The first line is a ping timeout: the computer’s power cord was yanked out of the wall a few minutes before 10:49, so it stopped communicating with IRC.

The next four lines are far more mysterious. An IRC client using my same WiFi network logged on at 11:06, then at 11:13, finally quitting (not timing out) at 11:18. For this whole period, I was on the phone to police, pacing around the back of our unit. It does not make sense that it was the iMac, because of the login password and the fact it wasn’t configured to use Wi-Fi. Also, how the hell would the thieves have been close enough to pick up our WiFi and have the inclination plug in a giant desktop computer 15 minutes after stealing it?

I’m assuming it was some kind of IRC server glitch, but that is such a lame explanation. I have no idea how this happened. Either way, it’s academic at this point. I’m no crack detective.

Edit: I realise now that it was my MacBook Air - when I opened it to initiate a Remote Wipe on the iMac, the Colloquy client in the background logged on and cleanly disconnected each time I opened and shut the lid. Whoops!

That’s about all I can say about the big event. It was a bit of excitement, I suppose, and a big annoyance — I was planning to unpack our groceries, brew some tea and implement all these bug fixes to the BCB site that I had prepared. Instead it was a mess of a night that fucked my sleeping schedule to the point that it’s right now 4:27 AM on Friday and I’m still not tired.

Veronica was strong and helpful throughout, and we were both so intent on sorting things out that I don’t think we got a lot of time to despair. I think we have the universal experience here: a lot of stress at first, then a bit of a cleaning job, but when it comes down to it we’re only going to be upset if insurance weasels out of covering us. At least we interrupted them before they took everything.

We were lucky, and unlucky. Don’t get burgled.

P.S. Transitioning from a 27” iMac to an 11” MacBook Air is rather shit.

  1. twistedruru reblogged this from su-itca-se
  2. taeshidiary reblogged this from su-itca-se and added:
    Souppy’s version...diary comics, which I’ll post next.
  3. su-itca-se posted this