Recovering your stolen device with Prey. Not.

I’ve been using Prey for a couple of years now. I track my Android phone and tablet, and my laptop.

I was in San Francisco in May 2015 and got all my belongings stolen in busy downtown. My Macbook was in one of the stolen bags. (San Francisco has a big problem with smash and grab burglary, be careful).

I immediately logged in Prey only to discover that my Macbook was running an outdated version of the client, and that most of the recovery features were not available anymore. Never did I get an email from Prey telling me to upgrade when they upgraded their backend.

Today, I got an email saying that my new Macbook hadn’t connected to Prey servers in 30 days. That’s odd, as I’ve been using my laptop every day for the past 5 days.

It appears that after upgrading OS X to 10.11 (El Capitan I guess), Prey client is not compatible and stopped working. I had to upgrade (and after upgrading to 1.5.0, the backend says it sees my devices as running 1.4.2).

Once again, never did I get an email from Prey telling me to upgrade, or the client would stop working.

All the notifications are ticked (device unseen for one day [never got that email for my new Macbook], 30 days, outdated, etc.)

You just can’t rely on such applications. It should be fire and forget.

Also, San Francisco Police Department clearly told me that even if I had webcam pictures of the dude, an approximate address and an IP address, it was really unlikely they would go knock on doors. They just don’t bother as they have other more important stuff to deal with.

Prey is boasting success stories recovering dozen of devices, but how many have never been recovered, because the client was outdated, or not compatible anymore, or police wouldn’t bother going after a simple laptop theft?

Best you can do is locking your boatloader, encrypting the filesystem and never leave your devices in a trunk. In downtown San Francisco, I was thinking the risk of getting assaulted was higher than being the victim of a smash and grab, just a block from CBS offices.

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