"I'm realistic. I'm not going to see that computer again"
From what anecdotal evidence I have myself, he is right. Even if police do find the asshole-thief and take the laptop from him, the victim is not going to receive it. They'll keep it "for the duration of the investigation" and then it might just "disappear" from the evidence room.
And the next asshole-thief (this one with a police ID) will be smart enough to wipe it so as not get caught the same way. And, even if he does not, calling police again will not be fruitful — police protect their own, "because no one else would".
Oh, and the original thief will not do any actual time either (much less have his hand chopped-off) — unless, maybe, this is his third offense in a "three strikes" state.
While it may seem petty, theft costs humanity immensely — if you count the things we all have to do to keep it under control...