It is important to recognize, I now believe, that this
I work in biomedicine/biotechnology, take my laptop everywhere, and am incredibly paranoid. I have often drawn the ire of my wife and friends because I insist on having my laptop under my arm at all times, even when going into a store for a few minutes with the car visible outside.
Nevertheless, my laptop was stolen on Friday morning. I live on a cul-de-sac in a rather "ritzy" area, at the top of a steep hill. There is *nobody* there at 8:00 in the morning. I put my laptop in the car at 7:55, leaving the car unlocked, and went inside to get my 2-year-old son. I became a bit distracted, had a bowl of cereal, etc., and when I returned at 8:10 the laptop was gone. I could NOT believe it. I've been staking out the neighborhood every morning since then, and there simply isn't anybody on the street. I truly can't understand how it could have happened.
So...get ready for this to happen to you eventually. Here's what I recommend:
1. Full-disk encryption is an absolute necessity. I would appreciate some education from Slashdotters on this question, though: does FDE prevent software like Prey from working? Same question goes for Find My Mac. I think, as a practical matter, that FDE will prevent this software from working--because the thief will end up leaving the laptop off most of the time, until he wipes it.
2. If your employer will pay for it, get a GPS device and put it in the laptop bag. In my case, we were able to track the bag for a while with cell phone triangulation, but it wasn't precise enough to locate the bag.
3. Buy security devices and use them. In my case, a few minutes' delay is all that would have been required to prevent the theft. For my next laptop, I'm going to try a PacSafe bag with attached lock. I'm also going to get a Kensington MicroSaver lock.
4. Write down your serial numbers. The police will want them, and they may lead to eventual return of your laptop. Furthermore, there is the ghost of a chance that having serial numbers could allow your law enforcement officer to get useful information from the Apple security team.