Need help building an anti-theft device for my PC

Now, like everybody who owns a kickass gaming system; I am constantly burdened by the thought that my computer may be stolen one-day and i absolutely hate the thought of this with a passion. When im out and nobody is home, the thought crosses my mind a lot.

So, i came up with the idea to build a small device that is installed in my computer that is connected to an Ethernet cable, and so if unplugged; i am notified by PREY on my phone that it has physically been disconnected> warning me it is in the process of either being stolen, or that my internet has been disconnected somehow for some whatever unknown reason. If warned, i could alert a friend/family member that lives close by that my house may be in the process of being robbed. My PC is probably the highest priority for a thief to take because of its size and "flashiness", and figures he/she may fetch a pretty-penny for it.

Paranoid...? Yes, but as they all say; better to be safe than sorry. This computer is pretty important because of university and i cannot afford to lose it, even though i have a backup hdd, i cannot afford to buy a backup computer at the moment.

Now, the way i have thought going about this is perhaps installing a cheap-ish Rasperry PI motherboard into my computer that is always in online mode when connected to my router, and when disconnected, i am therefore alerted that my computer is offline (no-sh*t-Sherlock).

The reason why i am choosing to have a small device installed into the computer instead of an Ethernet cable being directly plugged into the motherboard is due to the fact that my computer will need to be running 24/7 in-order to be in online-mode. Which is not something i exactly want when nobody is home. I have no problem with a Raspberry PI running 24/7. Plus i only have one port on my motherboard, which is in use.

Would this at all be a possibility? Which way should i go about doing this? Would there be any need for difficult coding? Or is there a product already in existence that i can just buy?

I though this was a pretty cool idea so i figured id at least give it a shot.

Also, i thought this may be a good idea to share with people here on the Tek who may also be paranoid about their computers being stolen and might want to do the same thing.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.



I've been searching around cause you got me very curious of any available solutions for a stolen computer. At first i remembered a youtube video i saw a while back called "What happens when you steal a hackers computer"  There are a few important things in here, make sure you have all the details such as serial numbers, model numbers, and every detail of your PC written down so it can be properly identified by you if you ever need to file a police report. In this video the guy had a remote desktop application and was able to log in remotely when his PC was connected to the internet to help find it and identify the thief.

I see you mentioned Prey, what if you also put a wireless adapter in your PC, Prey can automatically connect to available WiFi connections even if the thief doesn't hook up an ethernet cable. 

I like the idea of the Raspberry Pi, but I'm clueless to all the coding but think it is really cool, i know there are a lot of Pi resources and you could probably find someone that has done a similar project and think about using a GPS module.

I think that besides keeping your place locked and other preventative measures, a heavy focus on recovery seems the next most important thing to me. Even if you do get a notification on your phone that its been disconnected from your internet connection. I don't think someone would be hanging around long enough for you to call someone and catch them in the act. But this is all just my opinion, i hope this at least gives you a little more to work with.  -Good Luck


I would use a arduino uno with a Ethernet shield then dremel a hole for the power and Ethernet into the case. A robber wouldn't think about it and would just un-plug it. But i would prefer the low tech solutions which would be, getting a solid wooden door (you want really solid wood like an oak one) . Sorry if you live in the us since that is from a uk retailer i would look for something like that from home depot. Then get a couple strong locks for that door. They need to be fire rated and so do the hinges. One other tip do not keep your pc next to a window near the road or the street where on lookers are walking by. The prevention is better when it comes to theft.

Hahaha man that video was hilarious, thanks for sharing. That has made my day!

The internal raspberry pi was mainly focused more towards being a preventative-measure towards the theft from actually takes place, and catching the thieves red-handed, but i guess what you say about the thieves being long gone before anybody actually gets there is pretty true, and i dont know why i didnt think of it before. So iv pretty much hit a dead-end there unfortunately haha. The raspberry pi allowing you to see that your computer is online would be much better as appose to not having it and your computer always being offline; so if by any chance it does end up actually going offline, you know something may be wrong. I guess that could still add another level of security towards the situation.

As for other preventative measures; doors, windows and any other entrances to the house are locked up pretty tight, so the thief would need to resort to forced entry, which would make a fair bit of noise, also which our neighbors will most likely hear (their old so they are home 24/7). Although... it pains me to say that we don't have an alarm system. Because im still living with my folks atm, they see no point in getting one and see it as a waste of money, but honestly, i beg to differ. 

I guess there is nothing to do now but focus on the 'recovery-factor' seeing as though there isn't really anymore alternatives towards the 'preventative-factor' now. Im still probably going to pursue this as a little project though just to see how far i can get with it, and what other security measures i may be able to come up with. All the r-pi needs to do is be connected to the internet, so maybe i can see about installing some kind of os on there. Thankyou for your input.

As for security measures... What would be some other recommended ways of boosting the chances of recovery besides prey, wifi and gps tracking goes? What would be some other useful apps or techniques i should learn that may come in handy? Some of what that guy was doing in the video did not make a lot of sense for me because im not very knowledgeable when its comes to 'networking'. What were some of the tools he was using?


This is pretty much what i was thinking of doing. I have looked at the arduino uno and other similar boards but im not sure how i would have it connected to the router and have it register as being in 'online' mode. With the r-pi practically being a mini computer, i may be able to install an os on it and have it register as "online".

I would unfortunately like to refrain from modifying the house physically because its not my house. I do keep my computer next to the window, but my curtains are always drawn because im worried somebody may see it haha. The reason why i am looking for a more tech-related solution is because im unfortunately unable to implement any non-tech solutions.

On the video for the ROG laptop giveaway... the question we had to answer to be entered into the giveaway was something like "what feature do you wish laptops had in them that they don't have now?"  This thread was exactly what my answer was about... we need some kinda software/hardware (that we can control remotely) that will self destruct the pc, and its private contents.  Not like an explosion or fire... just something that would totally disable it and make it completely useless for the thief.

no no no - EXACTLY like an explosion or fire

If I could I would have a script going that would ping my RPI and send it location data and stuff but because I don't have a static IP so I can't really do that.

 Personally, i just hooked up a cheap-ass pre-paid smartphone to an internal usb port in the pc, then put it on silent and mounted it in the cable routing space behind the motherboard... that way if my PC ever is stolen, ive got around 24-48 hours of  battery life with which to gps track it.... lets be real, most theives arent going to open it up to take a look... 

  This way i not only have all my serial numbers for the pc parts, but also an active mobile device regestered to me aswell.... 


Having one of these little suckers next to the hdd will do the trick and will render the hdd utterly useless if detonated.

Having one of these in a laptop probably wont be safe though. Although I doubt it will completely penetrate an hdd if it was 'side-on' and would have a low chance of accidentally hitting somebody. I wouldn't recommend this method because it could obviously be pretty dangerous.

This would be unsafe too... but, maybe even one of these placed next to the hdd that can be detonated by an electric current?:

But how would you detonate it via a program? That will be tricky.

Use at your own risk though.


If you have used google at all. Just sent the cops to their location. : )~

Step 1. write a system lockdown that will encrypt your system and drives. 
Step 2. Lock your doors.
Step 3. Custom locking mechanism. 

I would use something like a much larger locking hood mechanism. Where you would have to open up the case and use a key to unlock to pick it up off the floor. Sure you can drill the lock out but most people wont figure it out fast enough to do a snatch and run.

Chance are, they would likely, try to grab it, notice its either too heavy or not easily taken so leave it. They wont take enough time to open it up try to break the lock.  

1) backup of all files when modified to an owned server
2) screen mouse and keyboard logging
3) have ssh and vnc server installed 
4) have the serial numbers of your computer
5) you can mount an internal webcam for more fun
6) you can buy a device that you put a sim card in and that sends you an sms with it's location whenever it gets moved out of a predefined perimeter. (probably the most useful thing)