By Ezra Brook

Robb Young’s stolen laptop contains 5 years of research with no backups. He only wants his data; “thief can keep the laptop”

This week, a picture of a flyer was posted on facebook and other sites about a Rutgers University student, Robb Young, offering a reward to the thief who stole his laptop. However, Young is not interested to get his laptop back. Confused? Read on.

Young rather wants the contents of his laptop, especially, his research data that is found in “RESEARCH” folder in the “D” drive of the stolen laptop. His thesis — a culmination of five years’ work — was stored on that laptop, with no backup copies.

The reward of $1,000 is not for the laptop, but for his thesis that he developed for the past five years. This explains why Young is willing to pay more than what the used laptop is worth in the market. One can buy a brand new laptop for less than $400 these days, but, you can not put any amount of money on your data!

Out of desperation, Young has even posted the laptop’s password, along with his e-mail address and phone number.

Young’s flyer says:

“I am a Rutgers Chemistry 5th year PhD student. On April 19th afternoon, my LENOVO THINKPAD T420S laptop was stolen from room 203 of Wright-Rieman building. 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. The data is my FIVE-YEAR work. I really need the data under the D drive, there is a folder named RESEARCH, under RESEARCH folder, there is a THESIS folder. I only need that folder for my thesis defense, which is coming soon. I would like to pay you $1000 and use whatever way you offer to send you the money. The price is negotiable. My laptop password is 850713zd, my email address is battlecrooper[at] and phone number is 732-208-6755. PLEASE contact me and I would appreciate it so so much!!!

Young, has offered a reward, some monetary value for getting his data, but he never thought how to protect his critical data to begin with. He could have backed it up at least on a portable hard drive, if not in the cloud. I personally don’t like to find myself in this situation. This really emphasizes the need for data backups, not just any kind of backup, but a cloud based backup. There are even free services that sync your folder to the cloud, like DropBox.

“It’s a tough spot to be in for any student, much less somebody attempting to complete their Ph.D,” University Police Lt. Paul Fisher told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney. Fisher said they “have a few leads, but that student [Young], who didn’t want to talk, posted flyers around campus trying to reach the swiper, offering $1,000 for his thesis files, saying the thief could keep the laptop”.

Fisher continued, “he might be inviting more trouble by going the extra mile, but of course it’s understandable. The plight that the individual finds himself in”. Fisher warned that “the student should now be careful not to fall victim to a fraud, like someone sending a fake file to get the money”.

My heart goes out to Young and I hope that he will be able to locate his laptop or at least get his research data somehow and be able to graduate.

Are you an online backup executive reading this article? Why not offer this victim a one year, two year or three year unlimited backup service for free? I bet, Young, his friends and family and anyone who has heard this painful story will be big fans of cloud backup after such devastating experience.

About the Author: Ezra Brook is an editor at – a leading informational website for the cloud backup and data storage industry.


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