Install tracking software: De Rosa Tweeted on Tuesday that he'd used Find My iPhone to locate his device, tracking it to Jersey City and, eventually, the correct cab company and driver. Find My iPhone also works on stolen phones, as we learned recently, even if the phone itself doesn't have the app. On Friday, The New York Times ran a fascinating little City Room item about a police officer who tracked a woman's stolen phone by inputting her Apple ID in his own Find My iPhone app, tracking the device to where the thief was hanging out uptown, and then remotely making it ping so cops could zero in on the guy.
Use the right cover: The amazing thing about De Rosa's iPad recovery is the fact that it rode on the top of a cab for six blocks before the driver noticed, and didn't fall off. He keeps it in a Treegloo case, De Rosa tweeted, so that's probably a good bet for your iPad. As for the iPhone, there was no word on type of protective case in this story about a Chicago couple recovering theirs from a landfill, but the strongest we've heard of is the Tank Case, which you can hit with a hammer without breaking the phone.
Back up your data a lot: Not everyone is as lucky as De Rosa. Sometimes (a lot of the time) your phone or tablet is gone for good. iPhones and iPads both allow you to set passwords so that data will get wiped automatically if someone enters too many incorrect ones. Find My iPhone also allows you to wipe your data remotely, according to Apple, and to recover it to the last backup if you ever get your ithing back (which you won't). If you don't have an iPhone 4 or later model, you can still use MobileMe to wipe your stuff remotely, but you have to pay for it.