Man traces stolen laptop to Iran, blogs photos of new owners

A stolen MacBook apparently goes on an epic journey from London to Iran, sending back goofy images of the new owners to the theft victim. A riveting story, unless it's a publicity stunt.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
3 min read
Iranian laptop user
The laptop's original owner has since been in touch with the new owner. Dom Deltorto

It's a sad occasion when a laptop is stolen. All that money, time, and personal data just disappear into the night. This is the Tumblr story of a boy and his stolen laptop. Dom Deltorto lives in London. In early February, he says, someone broke into his flat and made off with his MacBook Pro and his iPad.

Deltorto was prepared for just such an incident. He had installed Hidden App on his laptop, a program that tracks the laptop's location and sends back images of the thief. However, Hidden App still needs to be connected to the Internet to work. After more than a month of radio silence, Deltorto reports that his MacBook suddenly came online, but it wasn't in a place where he could just call the London police and have them recover it.

Deltorto's laptop now appears to be a resident of Tehran, Iran, over 3,000 miles away from the comforts of home. Instead of crying itself to sleep, the MacBook is now apparently acting as a super-spy, sending back images of the woman who uses it, along with shots of her family and friends, music preferences, and sightseeing photos. The stolen laptop story is riveting. Here's hoping it's not just a publicity stunt for the app.

With his laptop all the way in Iran, Deltorto has few options for recovery. Just hopping on a plane and going to track it down isn't very practical. So instead, he's posting all those goofy spy photos on Tumblr along with commentary for each image. The laptop has captured everything from a Jenga game to a snack at the coffee table.

It could be that the laptop's new owner had nothing to do with the actual theft. She may have gotten a heck of a good deal on buying it used, though.

Perhaps what's most fascinating is the peek into the life of a stolen laptop owner. It all looks just normal and mundane. It would be nice to have a happy ending and see Deltorto reunited with his MacBook, but this is the real world, and sometimes lost dogs don't find their way home.

Update: Deltorto has changed his Tumblr to reflect new developments in his lost laptop saga. "It seemed to me that a laptop that went missing from London and turned up in Iran was like a space probe landing on a distant planet and beaming back proof of intelligent life," he writes.

He has since been in touch with the new owners of the laptop and apologized to them for what he feels is a breach of privacy for publishing their images online. As a gesture of good-will, Deltorto has asked them to keep the laptop, though they had offered to return it.

Deltorto hasn't shared information about how they came by the laptop, but it's an interesting conclusion to a story that went from a Tumblr shared among friends to a story that captured eyes from all over the Internet.