The University of Texas at Austin

Beware of the Grinch - Protecting Yourself From Theft

December 14, 2011

Each year during the weeks before winter break, The University of Texas Police Department (UTPD) reports a marked increase in on-campus theft of laptops and other personal electronic devices.

Remember that laptops, cell phones, iPhones, iPods, iPads and other electronic devices are prime targets for thieves during the holidays. Follow these suggestions to protect the physical safety of your university and personal property:

  • Lock the door when you leave your desk or office, even for a short period of time.
  • Use a computer security cable to lock your computer to your desk or workstation.
  • Lock your laptop in a desk drawer when you aren’t using it.
  • Don't leave your laptop or other devices unattended in a public area, even the restroom.
  • Pay attention when unknown people enter your area. Ask them to identify themselves or offer identification.

While these suggestions won’t stop criminals, they will reduce your chances of becoming a victim and minimize loss or damage if you are.

Additional Steps You Can Take

Theft can't always be prevented, so it is important to do everything you can to protect your data.

Encryption Helps Protect Your Data

In fact, because the consequences of a stolen laptop can include identity theft, compromised research data, endangered federal grant status and more, UT System has issued a mandatory laptop encryption policy requiring all University owned laptops or personal laptops containing Category 1 data to be encrypted by December 30, 2011. Learn more about laptop encryption here.

Remember To Create a PIN for Your Smartphone

If you have a Smartphone, remember to create a lock screen Personal Identification Number (PIN) to help protect your data. Having a PIN slows down any thief who gets your phone and may prevent your data from being stolen. Check with the manufacturer of your phone for specific instructions.

What To Do if Theft Occurs

If you fall prey to crime or witness a suspicious activity, please contact the UTPD at 471-4441.

If a laptop or other personal electronic device containing Category 1 data is stolen, please contact the Information Security Office.

See Also:

Updated December 14, 2011

We Can Help

Get help from an expert:

* ITS Help and Service Desk

* Call us at 512-475-9400

* Submit a help request online

We also have a walk-in service in the first floor lobby of the Flawn Academic Center (FAC). Stop by and let us help you!