A few weeks ago, my car was broken into while I was eating dinner between work and home. Unfortunately, my computer was in one of the stolen bags (let me know if you see a ThinkPad with a giant squid painted on it
!) and chances are it will never be recovered. The laptop was my primary computer and had everything: Years of work, pictures, half-finished musical compositions, stuff for Instructables(!), passwords, and financial data.
Fortunately, I had instituted an agressive program of backups and encrypting my passwords. I didn't lose a single document and am not particularly worried about identity theft from information on the laptop.
There are ton of different ways to do this. So, if my specific solution doesn't work for you, I hope to inspire you to figure out a solution that does.