Getting your phone stolen is still a real problem, but it's far from the epidemic it was a few years ago. That's thanks, in part, to protection technology. Many devices now have built in methods to brick them completely, making it more hassle to re-sell.
However, that technology has been largely restricted to phones and tablets, leaving laptop users a lot more vulnerable. They don't have a cellular connection, and therefore users can't access them remotely.
Emergency Call Technology
The Microsoft patent suggests use of emergency call technlology to facilitate the feature even if the sim has been taken out. The summary reads:
“At least some embodiments described herein relate to the restricted use of a cellular network to facilitate disablement of a device that is suspected lost or stolen. Accordingly, even if the device is not capable of general use of the cellular network (e.g., due to a physical authentication module, such as a subscriber identity module, being absent and/or due to a software restriction on cellular network access), disablement communications are still permitted across the cellular network. Accordingly, the device may receive a disable command from the disablement service over the cellular network, and acknowledge processing of the disable command to the disablement service also over the cellular network. Thus, efforts by an unauthorized possessor of the device to prevent disablement by removing the physical authentication module are thwarted. Likewise, turning the cellular service off using software settings at the device also does not prevent the device from being disabled via cellular network communication.”
However, there could be a downside to this functionality. It may let law enforcement track users by their laptops, even without a signal. For some, that will be a serious privacy concern.