Student desperate to get back laptop with thesis

Computer and external drive stolen from Memorial University office

Published on March 8, 2016
Mark Colbourne has offered a $1,500 reward for the return of his laptop, which contains his master’s thesis.
Submitted photo

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

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.”