Laptops Taken on Global Taxi Ride!

It’s one of the laptop owner’s worst nightmares. You are riding in a taxi, hoping to get to that important meeting on time. When the cab pulls up, you quickly pay the driver and rush to work. Something doesn’t quite feel right. You slow down as you recall the presentation you had worked on the night before, stored inside your laptop, which is…..not with you, anymore.

Your laptop is no longer in your possession because it was left in the back seat of the taxi cab! Horrified, you turn to see the taxi, with all of your confidential data inside of it, driving further away, getting lost in a sea of other cabs in the distance. Sound far fetched? Actually, this sort of mishap occurs quite frequently all over the world, according to a recent 3 and a half year survey of 900 taxi drivers.

The London survey was conducted by TAXI, a publication of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, and Pointsec, a company that specializes in security systems for mobile devices. The intent of this global survey was to determine just how often small mobile devices get lost in transit, and to impress upon the public the importance of using their devices’ password and encryption capabilities.

Overwhelming statistics over the past 6 months alone – Londoners are reported to have left behind in licensed cabs, a jaw-dropping 4,973 laptops, 5,939 Pocket PCs (up 350% since 2001), and a whopping 63,135 mobile phones. With statistics as daunting as these, it has become imperative that businesses and individuals implement the security features available on the latest laptops and phones.

Adding to the cost of the actual lost merchandise, is the time spent tracking down these precious high-tech items, not to mention the thousands of dollars risked being lost as a result of compromised commercial data, or identity theft. In fact, identity theft has become the fastest growing crime in the UK, costing in excess of £1.3 billion per year, according to the Home Office.

The eight other major cities participating in this survey included Helsinki, Oslo, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Chicago and Sydney. While the problem of mobile devices being left behind in taxis has been shown to be wide spread, popular lost items varied from country-to-country.

When it comes to forgetting laptops, for example, London’s figures lead the world, with an increase of 71% since 2001, and now doubling that of any other city. Chicago takes the lead when it comes to absent-mindedly abandoned Pocket PCs, with one driver reporting to have found 40 such devices in the past 6 months.

The good news is that most devices left in cabs have an excellent chance of being reunited with their owners. Worldwide, 80% of passengers were able to reclaim their mobile phones, and 96% to reclaim their Pocket PCs and laptops.

On the lighter side. Besides the usual electronic devices left in taxicabs, the survey reported that some unusual objects have been left behind. This includes items ranging from thousands of dollars’ worth in diamonds, to dentures and artificial limbs. How’s that for absent-mindedness?