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Stolen laptop contains cancer cure data

Distraught Oklahoma University researcher says her stolen MacBook contains years of valuable data on prostate cancer. And no, she didn't back up.

Sook Shin and Ralf Jankecht have posted flyers in pawn shops appealing for the return of their stolen laptop.
News 9

Today's "Dude, you got to back up your data!" public-service announcement comes courtesy of Sook Shin, a university researcher who says her stolen laptop contained years worth of data related to a possible cure for prostate cancer.

And nope, you guessed it. She didn't back up and says some of her research can never be retrieved, while other parts could take up to two years to replicate.

Shin and husband Ralf Jankecht, a professor of cell biology at Oklahoma University, are leading cancer researchers at the school. Sunday, they made a quick stop in Oklahoma City on their way back to the lab, according to the local News 9. That's when someone smashed the window of their car and made off with a 13-inch white MacBook in a dark orange computer bag.

"I'm devastated and I feel so guilty," a tearful Shin told News 9.

The pair is now offering a $1,000 reward for return of the computer, no questions asked. "Thief, it is OK. Everybody makes mistakes," reads a flyer that's been posted in area pawn shops.

"Please return the computer with the data saved," Jankecht said. "This would tremendously help us and you would do something for society."

While most people who own a computer know they should regularly back up their data, surveys have shown that a surprising number rarely (or never) do. In this case, we can only hope for a story like that of the Swedish professor who had his laptop stolen and a week later received a USB drive holding all his data.

That thief, it appeared, took pity on the professor, backed up his information, and returned it to him. At which point, we hope, the professor backed it up a few more times over.