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Give Me One Reason
Tracy Chapman & Eric Clapton



Saint 2.0






Saturday, October 27, 2007
| 10:25 AM

Lifetime Supply of Beer for Stolen Laptop
Mon 22 Oct 2007


If you fancy a lifetime of beer, fly over to New Zealand and search for a stolen laptop belonging to the Croucher Brewing Company. This stolen laptop, which contains various financial records, contract details and other propriety information warrants enough attention from the company to offer anyone who finds this laptop a lifetime supply of beer from their brewery.

arstechnica.com - Laptop theft is unfortunately common these days. It generally only makes the news when the laptop in question belongs to a company or government agency and contains enough personal data to make identity theft a very real possibility for hundreds—or even thousands—of people. In the case of a laptop stolen from the Croucher Brewing Company in Rotorua, New Zealand, the laptop contained financial records, contract details, and other proprietary information (maybe the recipe for its Belgian Blonde ale?).

In an attempt to get the laptop back, the brewery is offering a somewhat unusual reward: a lifetime supply of free beer. Whoever fingers the thief will get a 12-pack per month (a bit skimpy, perhaps) for the rest of their days, according to the BBC. That beer could really come in handy for a dedicated Kiwi rugby fan trying to erase the memory of the All Blacks' spectacular flame-out in the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup two weekends ago.

Croucher appears to be on to something with its reward offer. Chances are that the laptop is an aging vanilla Dell, HP, or other corporate model. I suppose that if you don't have a laptop of your own, such a machine might come in handy. But what would you rather have, a creaky old laptop or a lifetime supply of your favorite brew? I know which one I'd pick.

There are lessons to be learned from Croucher's laptop strategy, though, lessons that other organizations that have suffered from lost or stolen laptops could definitely put into action. Offer a compelling—and unique—reward for the return of missing hardware. Here are some suggestions:

1) For the return of a lost or stolen Transportation Security Administration hard drive: free bumps to the front of every screening line, plus a first-class seat next to an air marshal on the flights of your choice

2) The IRS has suffered the theft and loss of several laptops. Those finding and returning them should get a special finder's deduction on their 1040 equal to the amount of their gross income for that year.

3) A US Department of Transportation laptop was stolen last year. Anyone returning it should get a lifetime pass to the front of the long, long lines at the local DMV

4) Anyone returning one of the stolen Veterans Administration laptops should get a lifetime of free medical care at the VA's expense... from the Mayo Clinic.

5) Return of the laptops stolen from a Seattle Apple Store? A lifetime ticket to Apple's top-secret product development and planning meetings.

Lost and stolen laptops cause big headaches not only for companies, but for the people whose data is on there. Legislation introduced earlier this week would allow US consumers to recover some of the costs associated with data theft, but companies and the government both need to take better care of their hardware, or at the very least, use encryption—standard at the management consulting firm I used to work at—to ensure that sensitive data is difficult, if not impossible, to extract from pilfered hardware.

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