Thief Steals Computer… Then Sends Its Owner USB Stick With All His Lost Data

from the how-nice dept

Losing a computer can be quite traumatic, especially if you’re not good about backing up your data. So, imagine the surprise from a professor who had his laptop stolen (without having backed up his data), only to find a week later that the thief had (quite considerately) copied all of the professor’s personal files to a USB device (stolen with the computer) and sent the USB stick with the data back to the professor’s home. It appears the thief tried to be as considerate as possible, in that while he had originally stolen the professors full backpack, including wallet, credit cards, keys and more, he later returned it all, except for the computer (and somewhat inexplicably, the professor’s library card). As the professor noted, this certainly seems like an awful lot of effort to go through. None of this, of course, excuses the thief for stealing the laptop in the first place, but it’s quite a story. Of course, the professor remains unnamed, so there’s a part of me that wonders how true the whole story is in the first place…

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Comments on “Thief Steals Computer… Then Sends Its Owner USB Stick With All His Lost Data”

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28 Comments
MrWilson says:

Re: Why...

Because you don’t expect “real” thieves to be that nice whereas most people aren’t surprised that there are collection societies that have found or paid for legal methods of confiscating other people’s property.

You don’t get rich by being nice to people.

I’ve heard stories of petty criminals being nice. A guy told me he got robbed and asked the robber if the robber would just take the cash since it was a pain to have to get a new license and cancel credit cards and the thief took the cash and gave him back the wallet. Of course it’s second hand, so I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s at least believable.

I’ve never heard stories of collective societies being nice, even to their own members. In fact, quite the contrary.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

You just never know

Many years ago (almost 40) I was hitchhiking in Mexico back to the US. I got a ride with a shirt salesman for several hundred miles. When I got out, I had left my wallet (with passport, money, driver’s license, etc) in his car. As a result I had to sneak across the border back into the US (between Texas and New Mexico), and then hitchhiked back home in Colorado – it took me two weeks since I detoured through California to visit family and friends. When I got home, my wallet was waiting for me, with everything intact, including the money that was in different denominations than when I lost it! 🙂

So, maybe the thief REALLY needed a laptop and had no $$ to get it. As a result, he steals from someone who can afford (hopefully) to replace it, but knowing that data is usually more valuable than its container, was considerate enough to return that to the owner. The professor got back what he really needed (the data) and the thief (who will hopefully pay back society when able) got what he needed. As for the library card, he probably needed to check out a book on computer programming… 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

reminds me of a story that was popular in Montreal in the 90s:

some guy gets his brand new Cadillac STS stolen, then a couple of days later its returned, and he finds an envelope from the supposedly thief, apologizing to borrowing the car and offering him a full tank of gaz and opera tickets.

when the man returns from the opera he finds his house was robbed.

MarksAngel (profile) says:

I once accidentally left my cigarette case at a bus stop down town. There was a a full pack of Marlboro’s in it along with my $20.00 zippo and my identification card and $30.00 in it. 2-3 weeks later I received it in the mail, everything was inside it and there was no return address.

I know it’s not the same as having something stolen, but this story reminded me of that.

Mojo says:

MarksAngel: I find it interesting that you felt the need to say “Marlboros” and “zippo” as opposed to simply saying it was full of cigarettes and a $20 lighter.

Brand names important to you? As if the fact that they were Marlboros and a Zippo made it more valuable?

I actually like this story, it’s the way thieves should be. If I was stealing a laptop *because I needed a laptop,* I would def do the same.

Same with stealing a wallet – 99% of them do it for the cash, so why not send back the rest? Would make getting robbed a whole lot less of a pain in the ass and on a karmic scale, probably helps 🙂

MarksAngel (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No it’s not the name brand that’s important it’s the cost of those particular brands I was alluding too. Which let’s face it are more expensive than generic smokes and a bic lighter. The fact is somebody found them and didn’t think “Oh well she can obviously afford more” and decide to keep it. They were kind enough to send them back regardless.

rebrad (profile) says:

Very Polite

I think it was very polite of the thieve to at least provide the owner his data. Sort of reminds me of a holiday in southern France where some gypsies broke into my car and stole my CD/Radio. They broke the smallest window in the car and carefully removed the CD/Radio with no cut wires or ripped dash. They even removed the CD, I guess because it wasn’t their kind of music.

You have to hand it to them for being true professionals. It could have been worse. They could have plastered all the data all over the internet. Count your blessings.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Not a Thief

Okay Here’s My guess,

Student of said professor overslept missed his final paper deadline and the professor refused to take it late. The student then steals the professor’s backpack, inserts his final paper into the “Personal Files” and then returns all the files back to the professor. He keeps the laptop as not to raise suspicion when everything was returned. And the Library card was merely a decoy to draw attention away from the professor’s personal files.

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