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Student Offers $1,000 for Data on Stolen Laptop

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#1 Hum

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 14:24

How much is a graduate school thesis worth? At least $1,000 - to the thesis writer, anyway.

That's the price Jingming Zhang, 28, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, N.J., is offering for the data on his laptop, which was stolen on April 19.

Zhang was so distraught that he posted a flyer on the wall of the Wright-Rieman building, from where his computer was taken sometime between 10 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.

"If you stole my laptop and now you are reading this letter, I would like to say that you can keep the computer and I would like to pay you money for my data under D drive," he wrote. "The data is my FIVE-YEAR work."

So far, nobody has been arrested, but Rutgers Police Lt. Paul Fischer told ABC News that, "It is an open investigation and we do have several leads."

According to Fischer, Zhang's laptop had been in an unlocked room in Wright-Rieman, which houses laboratories.

"Rutgers is an open campus," said Fischer. "It's not like a small liberal arts college where it's gated in. So, even if the building are secured, people can piggyback in."

On Tuesday, Rutgers student Robb Young posted an image of the flyer on his Facebook page, and 29,957 people "shared" the information. It was later re-posted on Reddit.

Neither Zhang nor Young could be reached for comment.

Fischer said that he wouldn't suggest offering monetary rewards in the future.

"It invites potential fraud from people saying they have the computer and they don't," he said. "Other than reporting it to campus police, we suggest he safeguard his laptop in the future."

Moral of the story: Lock your door. And always back up your data.

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#2 Richteralan

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 14:41

Despicable thieves.

My stolen Nexus 4 also contains some very precious movie clips/pictures I took and cannot be taken again.

OTOH, I should have backups since cloud storage is very accessible.

This chemistry student should have also backup his thesis and the whole research to at least 3 different storages. That's why I did with my Masters Thesis.

#3 OP Hum

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 14:47

Yeah -- very hard to understand why they would not have backed up something so important, six ways from Sunday.

And I would be a very ashamed thief --- I'd return that laptop in good condition, pronto -- for free.

#4 soumyasch

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 14:51

Happened to me too for my undergrad thesis. I wasn't into backups - used to somehow think that it couldn't happen to me - and lost all the data. Thankfully, it was just two months worth of work. But that taught me the importance of backups. Now I have my work synced across three different systems, plus the cloud as well as backed up on a NAS device that sits behind the locked doors of a wardrobe.

#5 +techbeck

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 14:59

Sucks that his laptop was stolen, but wasnt very smart to not have a backup of the data.

#6 adrynalyne

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 15:07

He could also be baiting the thief.

#7 vetneufuse

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 15:57

always love PhD students... they are "smarter then you" or so they like to say..... yet they aren't smart enough to keep backups of something that is literally your life's work.....

and the excuse "I don't know how to" with them doesn't fly.... considering they are (masters in) RESEARCH students... so research it and do it!

#8 adrynalyne

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 16:01

always love PhD students... they are "smarter then you" or so they like to say..... yet they aren't smart enough to keep backups of something that is literally your life's work.....

and the excuse "I don't know how to" with them doesn't fly.... considering they are (masters in) RESEARCH students... so research it and do it!


Smarter in their field maybe....but overall they are not smarter than you :D

#9 vcfan

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 16:12

Smarter in their field maybe....but overall they are not smarter than you :D


yet if all these guys died tomorrow, we'd all be screwed. do you know how to generate electricity ? treat water so its drinkable?process foods? make toilet paper? know anything about medicine? if the average joe dies,the world continues to function the way it does.

#10 Witt3439

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 16:14

Hmmmm. First thing that comes to mind... BACKUP!! Maybe a flash drive and maybe even another drive, and/or a Cloud drive.

#11 adrynalyne

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 16:15

yet if all these guys died tomorrow, we'd all be screwed. do you know how to generate electricity ? treat water so its drinkable?process foods? make toilet paper? know anything about medicine? if the average joe dies,the world continues to function the way it does.


I think you put a little too much stock into someone with a PhD title. If the average PhD dies, the world also continues to function the way it does.

#12 Tigurinn

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 20:02

The thief probably goes to this college :)

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#13 xendrome

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 20:09

smart = common sense, lol....

#14 vetDirtyLarry

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 20:12

The thief probably goes to this college :)

I happen to live about 15 minutes from Rutgers, so in my younger 20's used to go to bars there a decent amount. A friend of mine also went to school there. Several friends of mine have lived in the city it is in as well. The college itself is literally smack dab in the middle of a city called New Brunswick. It is scattered over several miles in the heart of the city. Some parts of Rutgers the surrounding neighborhood is not what one would describe as touristy. It is definitely a poor area. Nothing at all stopping anyone from just walking onto the campus since it is in the heart of the city and doing what they wish. I have heard several stories over the years in fact.

#15 Tigurinn

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 20:16

I happen to live about 15 minutes from Rutgers, so in my younger 20's used to go to bars there a decent amount. A friend of mine also went to school there. Several friends of mine have lived in the city it is in as well. The college itself is literally smack dab in the middle of a city called New Brunswick. It is scattered over several miles in the heart of the city. Some parts of Rutgers the surrounding neighborhood is not what one would describe as touristy. It is definitely a poor area. Nothing at all stopping anyone from just walking onto the campus since it is in the heart of the city and doing what they wish. I have heard several stories over the years in fact.


Not sure why my image didn't get posted .... the image was one from the tv cult comedy series "The Young Ones" and the college's name was "Scumbag College"

Edit: I uploaded the image again from another source - it was just my lame attempt at a joke



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