How much is a graduate school thesis worth? At least $1,000 - to the thesis writer, anyway.
That's the price Jingming Zhang, 28, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, N.J., is offering for the data on his laptop, which was stolen on April 19.
Zhang was so distraught that he posted a flyer on the wall of the Wright-Rieman building, from where his computer was taken sometime between 10 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
"If you stole my laptop and now you are reading this letter, I would like to say that you can keep the computer and I would like to pay you money for my data under D drive," he wrote. "The data is my FIVE-YEAR work."
So far, nobody has been arrested, but Rutgers Police Lt. Paul Fischer told ABC News that, "It is an open investigation and we do have several leads."
According to Fischer, Zhang's laptop had been in an unlocked room in Wright-Rieman, which houses laboratories.
"Rutgers is an open campus," said Fischer. "It's not like a small liberal arts college where it's gated in. So, even if the building are secured, people can piggyback in."
On Tuesday, Rutgers student Robb Young posted an image of the flyer on his Facebook page, and 29,957 people "shared" the information. It was later re-posted on Reddit.
Neither Zhang nor Young could be reached for comment.
Fischer said that he wouldn't suggest offering monetary rewards in the future.
"It invites potential fraud from people saying they have the computer and they don't," he said. "Other than reporting it to campus police, we suggest he safeguard his laptop in the future."
Moral of the story: Lock your door. And always back up your data.
- Rutgers University