Student desperate to get back laptop with thesis

Josh
Josh Pennell
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Computer and external drive stolen from Memorial University office

Mark Colbourne knows exactly what it’s like to have two years of your life vanish overnight.

Mark Colbourne has offered a $1,500 reward for the return of his laptop, which contains his master’s thesis.

The master’s student at Memorial University walked through his office door in the Earth Sciences building last week to find his laptop and external hard drive had been stolen. It’s an office that he shares with about a half dozen or so other students and through a miscommunication the door had been left open.

His cubicle was the only one hit by the thieves.

“It’s the first one when you walk in through the door,” Colbourne says.

“I’m assuming that after they hit my desk they got spooked somehow.”

Colbourne’s thesis, which he has been working on for over two years, was on the laptop. He also had a copy on the external hard drive that was stolen. He was working on the last chapters of his paper, which has about five chapters, each made up of roughly 30 to 40 pages.

“I guess if I don’t get it back I’m going to have to start over again,” Colbourne says.

He has been speaking with his academic supervisor.

“He’s sympathetic to my cause.”

But sympathetic or not, Colbourne has to hand in that thesis to get his master’s degree.

“I’ve been taking this week to try and recover the laptop,’ says Colbourne.

“We’ll have a meeting when he gets back in town to discuss further options.”

There aren’t many cameras in that building and none in the general area of his office. Still, campus security says they will check what footage they have.

“They weren’t really optimistic that they would be able to ID someone,” says Colbourne.

The computer and hard drive were stolen from Room 4025 of the Earth Sciences building sometime between 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 and 9 a.m. Thursday, March 3. It’s a 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro with aluminum casing and stickers covering the casing. Two stickers in particular stand out — a yellow European Geosciences Union sticker and a yellow Costeno Beach sticker.

He’s offering a $1,500 reward with no questions asked for its return. The computer and hard drive aren’t worth much to him, he says. He just wants the thesis.

“It’s the time and the effort.”

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Earth Sciences, Memorial University, European Geosciences Union

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • EDfromRED
    March 10, 2016 - 09:07

    No back-ups!? He must be the type of engineer in charge of the North Spur.

  • Elene
    March 09, 2016 - 14:02

    Wow. So many posters with no empathy. It's downright chilling.

  • Joe
    March 09, 2016 - 13:08

    Serious????? Master's student?????? No backup. LOL

  • Lara
    March 09, 2016 - 09:39

    He can afford $1500 for his missing thesis but not $8 for a usb key? Or $0 to email his thesis to himself every few paragraphs? People's laptops get stolen every minute, that's why they back up sensitive data to email or a cloud based backup so it can't also be stolen.

  • Elene
    March 09, 2016 - 09:19

    Yo, 'Whaaa,' 'Mark Noel' and 'David,' I guess the three of you have never in your life made a bad judgment call that caused you grief down the road. Good for you!!!

    • Kevin
      March 09, 2016 - 09:42

      Sure we have, we just didn't go to the media with it. Someone stole my shoes from the gym a few weeks ago. I'll email CBC and the Telegram ASAP.

    • Mike
      March 09, 2016 - 10:39

      Precisely why I never leave my shoes in the main area of the gym! I hope the inquiry is launched into the missing shoes!

    • Elene
      March 09, 2016 - 14:00

      Kevin and Mike: The reason for alerting the media is to let everyone know he's offering a reward. And BTW, what's on his laptop is infinitely more valuable than a pair of gym shoes.

    • Kevin
      March 09, 2016 - 14:12

      If it was so valuable, why didn't he spend 10 seconds to email it to himself? I at least put my shoes in a locker. And, I haven't read the thesis. It might be terrible. Bottom line: You can't go to the media when you screw up. You suck it up. If someone held him at gun point and stole the laptop, ok, I guess it's a news story, in Newfoundland. I guess I'm jaded since I live in a big city like Halifax, where people don't go to the media when someone steals their laptop. SMH.

  • Kevin
    March 09, 2016 - 09:12

    This is newsworthy? It's 2016! I'm sorry for the guy but anyone who is working on a MA thesis should have backups galore. Every essay, thesis or dissertation I ever wrote was backed up to two emails and two usb keys every 90 minutes. I'm was a grad student and every week we heard some sob story about someone losing or having their laptop stolen with their thesis or dissertation on it with no backups. I don't remember any of them making the news. Free computer tip: EMAIL YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS TO YOURSELF. I locked my keys in my car a few years ago. I thought I had a spare one in my wallet but I took it out so I'd have room for a paperclip. I should have alerted the media.

  • Kevin
    March 09, 2016 - 09:12

    This is newsworthy? It's 2016! I'm sorry for the guy but anyone who is working on a MA thesis should have backups galore. Every essay, thesis or dissertation I ever wrote was backed up to two emails and two usb keys every 90 minutes. I'm was a grad student and every week we heard some sob story about someone losing or having their laptop stolen with their thesis or dissertation on it with no backups. I don't remember any of them making the news. Free computer tip: EMAIL YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS TO YOURSELF. I locked my keys in my car a few years ago. I thought I had a spare one in my wallet but I took it out so I'd have room for a paperclip. I should have alerted the media.

  • Master Class
    March 09, 2016 - 09:06

    Dealing with media now and fielding questions will sap more of his time and energy than if he did a rewrite. I know. I lost everything. My brain had to pick up the slack. If I lost my brain I would appeal to the masses and offer a reward.

  • Mark
    March 09, 2016 - 06:57

    hemay be able to track it kind of like the "where's my iphone" locator if it's enabled on his mac right?

  • A mom
    March 08, 2016 - 23:57

    What a rotten thing for someone to do had to be someone who has access to the building not like any old person from the street is walking around MUN,Hope you get this back kid or hope someone can help you replace it.

    • gord
      March 09, 2016 - 09:37

      The list of people who have access to the Earth Sciences Building include every student attending MUN (18,000+). It also would include any skeets walking around MUN looking for things to steal who are not students. This is a terrible story, but not surprising. It seems if you leave anything of value around MUN unattended it will be stolen.

  • David
    March 08, 2016 - 23:21

    Who removes a text file to make more space on cloud storage? Especially your thesis! Lol the classic big dirty.

  • Mark Noel
    March 08, 2016 - 19:04

    Hard to believe that a man with the intellectual ability to write a thesis would possess only two copies of it & store both in the one location!

  • Nancy Teppler
    March 08, 2016 - 18:32

    Calling on whatever gods may be that it's returned quickly. Remember, also, people, that it's worth saving important backups in a different place, preferably an online backup service. My heart bleeds for this young man.

  • Whaaa
    March 08, 2016 - 18:08

    "Masters student" sounds so intelligent! No backup of 2 year's work is NOT smart! He should have been an engineer! They're so smart they're stund!