Potential cancer cure lost with stolen laptop

Staff at the University of Oklahoma are appealing for the return of a laptop computer that is said to contain a potential cure for cancer, offering a no-questions-asked reward to anyone who can reunite it with its owner.

The laptop, a white MacBook housed in a dark orange case, is reported by local radio station KRMG to have been stolen from cancer researcher Ralf Jankecht's car late last week while he and his wife dined in a nearby restaurant - and while the loss of an expensive laptop is painful enough, the true value of the item lies in the data on its hard drive.

Jankecht, who works at the university researching possible treatments for cancer, had stored his research data on the MacBook's hard drive - and, crucially, appears not to have been taking any backups of the precious information.

In a statement, Jankecht declared to whomever has the laptop now: "Please return the computer with the data saved. This would tremendously help us and you would do something for society."

Sadly, Jankecht is likely on a hiding to nothing: the majority of stolen laptops are wiped clean before being sold on, to hide any trace of its previous owner. Even if the laptop is sold as-is, the new owner is likely to perform a clean install to freshen the device up - in either scenario, the data is likely to be gone for good.

Let this be a lesson to all cancer researchers out there: keep regular backups; test the backups; and don't leave your laptop on display in the car while you're at a restaurant.