The Theft of a Computer: Learn from My Mistakes

by Linda Okazaki

My computer was purchased in mid-June, just before the big research trip to Washington. It was small, only 3.3 pounds, and had an adorable pink keyboard cover. Before leaving for DC, Ted backed up my data to an external hard drive. He also left the old computer intact. And then this past Saturday morning in my excitement to go to the writing class at CGS, I put my computer bag in the car, complete with wallet and digital camera. I was only in the house for a short period of time, but I left one garage door open. Big mistake. In a matter of 15 minutes, the thief rifled through the three cars in the garage, took my computer bag, a set of golf clubs and a few other items. In fact, it appears I may have even interrupted him. I recall going between the garage and kitchen several times. Was he hiding behind one car when I put my lunch bag in the backseat? How do I know he was a “he”? There were multiple roberies that day, and one woman not only got a good look at him but also got his license plate number. Of course, that may have been a stolen car. After filing a police report, having all three vehicles fully dusted for fingerprints, cancelling all credit cards and generally feeling nauseous, I had to wonder, what had I learned? Obviously, don’t leave the garage door open even for a few minutes. But in terms of genealogical research, what could I pass along? Keep your documentation in two formats (say paper and computer, or computer and thumb drive, or digital camera and computer), but DO NOT keep those two sources together. My camera and my laptop were both missing and I hadn’t finished uploading my digital images to another location. But I didn’t lose much. Well, I lost the journal entries of my experiences at the National Archives. Fortunately, this blog included many of the details. I lost some digital images of the Okazaki family records from Gila River Internment Camp, but I had already decided to re-order those images via snail mail. Luckily I didn’t have my thumb drive or i-phone stored with the computer. Those were still in the house. The moral of the story? Back up, back up, back up. And thank my lucky stars that I didn’t trap him in the garage. Oh, and be grateful for the professional behavior of the Lafayette police, particularly Officer Dennison.