Backed Up Photographs Lead To Stolen Macbook And A Drug Bust

Backed Up Images Lead To Stolen Mackbook And A Drug Stash

We are a little bit fanatic about backups here in DIYP. This is why we have our backup computer in a bomb shelter. A lost of an unbacked up computer can mean a year of work down the drain. So the motivation for backing up your files is pretty trivial.

It is less trivial that backing up photographs can get you a stolen macbook back and lead to a drug bust.

A guy from the maker team (who had his name masked for soon-to-be-obvious reasons) had his macbook stolen from his car near a BBQ place in Detroit. He got an approximate fix on the macbook via the “find my iPhone” feature for the iPad he had in the bag. He went to the cops.

Sadly, the cops needed a definite address to issue a search warrant. This is where the backed up images came into play.

Apparently the thief used the macbook to upload photographs of his Yukon van to Craigslist. So by checking the new files on his Backblaze account, our maker detective saw those new Yukon pictures. (*Backblaze is an online backup service. Think Dropbox, but oriented towards backup rather than sharing).

This is awesome news, and by cross referencing those pictures with a Google street-view map from the “find my iPhone”, he was able to find the Craigslist ad, and the address where the macbook was stored. (and the phone number of the alleged thief).

“it struck me that since my computer is constantly backing up files, the
thief might have backed up something I can use to get a physical
address.  I searched all the files that had changed since the machine
was stolen”.#

Cops were called, got in and had the macbook retrieved. Along with….

Here is the cherry on top of the ice-cream: that specific house turned out to be a drug stash: “A search of the house, “designed for narcotics distribution,” yielded “multiple, large jars of suspected Marijuana, multiple individually packaged vials of suspected Marijuana and multiple knotted baggies of suspected Marijuana.”

[How Tracking Down My Stolen Computer Triggered a Drug Bust via Make]