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Swedish professor rejoices over laptop thief's memory stick miracle

Swedish professor rejoices over laptop thief's memory stick miracle

Published: 15 Oct 2010 12:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Oct 2010 12:18 GMT+02:00

A professor at Umeå University">Umeå University in northern Sweden was stunned after a thief who stole his laptop copied and returned the contents of the computer to him - on a USB memory stick.

"I am very happy," the unnamed professor told the local Västerbottens-Kuriren newspaper.

"This story makes me feel hope for humanity."

The professor, who wished to remain anonymous, is one of the most successful in his field, according to the newspaper.

Having recently had surgery, the professor could not be bothered to drop off his backpack in his apartment before first going to the laundry room.

He instead left the bag behind a door in the stairwell, thinking it would be safe for a few minutes.

But when he returned a short time later, the bag was missing, along with the computer, keys, calendar and other documents inside.

The professor was most upset by the loss of his calendar.

"It is my life. I have documented everything in it that has happened in the last 10 years and beyond," he told the newspaper.

He then called the police to report the incident and blocked the credit cards which were also in the bag.

But when he went down to the stairwell a short time later, he couldn't believe his eyes.

"The backpack was there again. With all the papers, calendar and credit cards. It was just the computer that was missing," he explained.

"Unfortunately, I have been bad at backing up my computer."

Resigned to having lost his computer, the professor was nevertheless happy to have the rest of his belongings back.

But the considerate thief had yet one more surprise in store.

About a week after the theft, the professor returned home to find an envelope containing a USB memory stick which had been taken along with the computer.

The professor was shocked to discover the thief had copied all the documents and personal files from his laptop to the memory storage device, a process which likely took hours.

All things considered, the professor is delighted at the outcome, despite the loss of his computer. He hopes, however, that other thieves can learn to be as compassionate.

"Often when people lose their computers and cameras, it is understandably not the gadget itself that is the most important. The content is often irreplaceable," he told the newspaper.

Besides the computer, the only other item that has not yet been returned is the professor's library card.

"Perhaps the thief needs to improve him or herself," the professor joked.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:10 October 15, 2010 by joshr
I left a camera on a bus once in the Czech Republic. A few months later, I received a few CDs in the mail with all of the photos on it.

Even criminals have hearts sometimes... :)
13:38 October 15, 2010 by Sam1
Hahaha...Lovely stories...Funny and weird...Joshr bad things happen to good people but always end up superficial like money or stuff...But i know your pictures are more dear than money...

Might be the same theif : P was in czech tourism...and took your camera...How did he know your address??

One theif in America went into a house he heard a baby crying he took the milk warmed and fed the baby...then ran away...Hehe
14:07 October 15, 2010 by Frobobbles
The thief is of course one of the professors neighbours.
15:22 October 15, 2010 by fridayz
@Frobobbles or students!
17:08 October 15, 2010 by spo10
the thief is a computer guy! he understood the contents and backed it up for the professor. maybe he's a neighbor thief? techno thief ftw! haha
17:17 October 15, 2010 by ngecenk
hahaha to be honest this is a very generous thief.
18:01 October 15, 2010 by joshr
My address was in the bag.
19:28 October 15, 2010 by tuerd1982
Wow, interesting. Lucky professor.
22:24 October 15, 2010 by wxman
Awww, a good criminal. Let's all rejoice! Thank you so very much for not effing me up too much! I'm truly grateful.
00:35 October 16, 2010 by Potrero
I hope he scanned the memory stick for viruses.
01:15 October 16, 2010 by mojofat
He didn't have a backup of his data? What? Come on dude...back up drives are cheeeeap. Especially if you're carrying around a laptop there's no reason to not have your data backed up.
02:41 October 16, 2010 by laters
He must have had a really crappy password.
10:21 October 16, 2010 by Pacey
The thief most probably is someone who is doing research in the professor's discipline so now he has got all this treasure trove of information. It wont be too difficult to catch him as the professor says the library card hasnt been returned. Maybe the thief used the Prof's lib card to login from somewhere so that can be traced I reckon
20:18 October 16, 2010 by Sam1
Neighbour theif or not!!! In sweden most neighbours dont know each other for years :-) so he is just a theif...

a Neighbour in Kiruna is same as any one in Malmö...because you dont see him hardly, and no visits or any kind of friendly relations...So he is as good as a person in China :P
06:39 October 17, 2010 by Andersonville
*Thief * ....remember this rule: "I before E except after C"

A great story!
20:30 October 17, 2010 by Hedley
Stockholm Syndrome?
05:53 October 18, 2010 by tommygun77
three years hard work fits on a usb drive? What kind of hard work is this?? Typical academic 'hard work'.
02:01 October 19, 2010 by word
@tommygun77 - the original source TT clearly states that the professor got more than one USB drives in the mail: "USB-minnen" one USB memory stick would be "ett USB-minne".
02:05 October 19, 2010 by Jack1a
Larry Niven foretold of something very similar in his short stories regarding "flatlanders". A culture where, because of very high population density decriminalizes non-violent theft of goods from individuals: "pickpocketing". His pilfered wallet is returned, in person, almost immediately because it doesn't identify him in an earth format.

It's the decent thing to do.
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