In what has surprisingly become a major news story, Free Geek, the local non-profit with which I am associated, was burglarized in the early morning of Saturday, November 18th. It was the largest break-in in the history of Free Geek, and really the only one using large scale forced entry.

Quite a bit of equipment was stolen: around $4500 worth of laptops and SoDIMM. This will put back the production of laptops at Free Geek, for both sale and donation to other nonprofits, back at least a month. The damage to the facilities will probably be even more problematic, as a full scale garage door replacement will cost around two thousand dollars.

There are two things to mention: first, due to quick thinking on the part of a Free Geek board member, the break-in was reported on the local news outlets. From there, it went to,, and then on to Slashdot. The response from the community, both in Portland, and around the world, has been very positive. (Aside from some sarcastic comments on Slashdot, but if you get discouraged by Slashdot sarcasm, you will be discouraged a lot).

There has been, however, a little bit of confusion about why this is bad for Free Geek. Some people have asked whether we need more computers to replace the stolen equipment. The actual equipment isn't too much of a loss, although high end laptops are about the worst thing to lose. Many people underestimate the size of Free Geek's operations, and don't realize that even 4500 dollars is only about one week of sales in the Free Geek store. Free Geek has a very large stockpile of equipment, and it would take a while to steal enough of it to put a dent in operations. What is worse is the physical damage to infrastructure, and the feeling of insecurity. However, even that isn't too bad, because many areas of the Free Geek premises remained secure.

It looks like this is another unfortunate incident that is going to make Free Geek stronger.