FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – This is the story of an expensive laptop, an aspiring rapper and a software program called Hidden.
It’s also the story of how a crime victim used technology to locate his stolen computer and get it back within a matter of days.
The story begins on July 31. Fort Lauderdale Police say a burglar broke into a Fort Lauderdale home through a window. The victims say the thief stole a bike and two laptops — one was a Macbook Pro that contained a software program that lead to the thief’s undoing.
The computer’s owner did not want to share his identity but did share his story. We’ll call him John.
John said he didn’t freak out when he realized his computer was stolen.
“I remembered I got this software on my computer,” he said.
John installed the Hidden software — which locates the computer and takes photos of the person using it — on his laptop just a few days before the break-in.
Hours after the computer was stolen, John’s webcam started surreptitiously snapping photos of a guy using his computer.
The webcam also snapped photos of what the guy was doing on the computer — like trying to change John’s password and uploading music to John’s iTunes.
John said the guy on the laptop had no idea the pictures were being taken.
“The computer is taking screen shots and camera shots every 10 minutes when the computer is open,” John said.
The webcam also took a photo of the guy using the computer editing a video. That video — of an aspiring rapper performing at a club in Broward — was uploaded to youTube during the time the computer was stolen.
John compiled all the information. He was able to track the computer’s IP address to a house in Fort Lauderdale. Once Fort Lauderdale Police had the information, they served a search warrant and recovered the laptop.
Antonine Etienne, 25, was arrested for the crime.
According to a police report, Etienne is also known as “Jahfi J” — the name of the rapper in the video.
John got his laptop back within 4 days. He credits a software program that was electronically eavesdropping on an accused thief.
“I think that’s pretty awesome,” John said. “It’s definitely worth it.”
Etienne is also charged with grand theft and violating his probation on a drug charge.
A police report says Etienne told detectives someone gave him the laptop. But investigators told CBS 4 News they do not believe anyone else was involved.
The Hidden software program is only Apple computers. It costs $15 for a year subscription for one license. Windows users could use another product — like Lojack for Laptops — to protect their computers.