Brewery offers lifetime supply of beer in return for stolen laptop

Brewery offers lifetime supply of beer in return for stolen laptop
Brewery offers lifetime supply of beer in return for stolen laptop

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By Eric Bangeman  
October 19, 2007

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=E2=80=94or even thousands=E2=80=94of 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 

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=E2=80=94and 
unique=E2=80=94reward for the return of missing hardware. Here are some 

    * 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

    * 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 

    * 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

    * 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.

    * 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=E2=80=94standard at the management consulting firm I used to work 
at=E2=80=94to ensure that sensitive data is difficult, if not impossible, to 
extract from pilfered hardware.

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