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Gadgets to guard your gear

After a rise in theft at the USF Library, it’s time to rethink your device protection plan. March of last year saw no reported thefts, according to Meg Ross, a university police spokeswoman. But this year, there were reported thefts in March, but Ross could not confirm the exact number. She said at least one has been reported in April.

While it’s smarter to never leave your laptop unguarded, even for a few seconds, there are a couple of products designed to protect it, in the event that you do.

First, lock your laptop to a table or other secure object. Most modern laptops have an input hole on the side or back next to a lock icon for this. Companies like Kensington make locks to fit this input and loop around table legs, similar to bicycle locks.

Most laptop locks use combinations for securing, but key versions are also available. Visit us.kensington.com for different models.

In the event that a laptop is stolen, it’s always a good idea to have personal information encrypted – or unreadable – and secure, so always keep your device password protected.

Before leaving a laptop alone, make sure a tracking program is installed that may help recover it. A basic and inexpensive program with a one-time fee of $49.99 – though it may be cheaper on Amazon.com – is SyNET’s nTracker.

It’s customized with a series of triggers that tell the program to e-mail the laptop’s location to the owner.

For instance, if the program is set to e-mail the owner every three days, then within that time period he or she will receive the location via an IP address. If the laptop is stolen, the owner has a lead on where the device is within three days.

The program also encrypts up to three file folders.

For Mac laptop users, the most entertaining security program is Lockdown, a free application that runs only on Mac OS X. Once a computer is armed, using an Apple Remote, any activity sets off loud alarms and takes a time-stamped photo, which can be e-mailed to the owner.

Flash drives are also an easy and common target for thieves because of their small size, but they can be secure.

Thinkgeek.com offers a flash drive with military-level protection. The Iron Key drive can cost more than $200 for 8 GB, but protects information with unbreakable passwords.

Ten failed attempts at breaking the password result in a self-destruct, in which files are destroyed.

Laptops aren’t the only things stolen from the Library, but there are many other products and methods to protect those items, too.

One of the best ways to protect anything from being stolen is making something look less desirable.

While locks similar to ones for laptops are available for iPods, cases for iPods and iPhones are already popular. So, why not a case that doubles as a disguise?

Reusing an old Walkman may save your iPod classic. With some do-it-yourself destruction, rip out the inside of a Walkman and place your iPod inside.

This homemade gadget makes it look like you’re stuck in the ‘90s, instead of carrying around a commonly stolen device.

If you’re not up for gutting the inside of your old tape deck, a premade version is occasionally available on etsy.com or eBay.

Most Apple products have anti-theft applications that can keep your information safe inside.

The idea of a cassette deck turning away thieves has spread to car safety as well. Instructables.com has directions for making a fake cassette player that hides your car radio.

If the most treasured belonging in danger of being stolen is your lunch, there’s a solution for that, too. Perpetualkid.com sells anti-theft baggies that turn your peanut butter and jelly into a moldy sandwich.

If it’s hard-earned cash you’re trying to protect, some products are unbelievable, like the brief safe sold at shomer-tec.com.

It hides money in what appears to be dirty underwear. It’s actually a clean, Velcro pouch.

None of the anti-theft devices and gadgets can guarantee safety for possessions. So, it’s always better to take your belongings with you wherever you go. That way, the only thing left to steal is your seat.