Victim Retrieves Laptop Stolen in Science Center

After finding his laptop computer stolen at the Science Center last Saturday morning, a 19-year-old male approached the two individuals who were walking off with his computer and retrieved his property successfully.

According to Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Officer Jack O'Krane, who was on duty Friday night, the victim left his table in the Science Center Greenhouse at around 2 a.m. to check e-mail at a nearby kiosk. Upon returning to his seat, he noticed his laptop computer was gone and saw a man and a woman casually carrying it out of the building.

The victim went after the couple and asked for his computer back. He later reported to police that the couple denied having his computer. When he pointed out that the woman was carrying his property in a bag over her shoulder, the couple, laughing, handed him back his laptop, according to the victim.

"Aww...It was just a joke--relax," one of the suspects said, according to the person whose laptop was taken.

The couple then nonchalantly walked out of the Science Center and into the Yard, according to police.

When officers reached the scene a few minutes later, a search for the suspects through the Yard, on Mass. Ave. and by Johnston Gate proved negative. The victim told HUPD officials the suspects were a black man and woman, ages 17 to 20 years old, and approximately 5'10" and 5'6" tall, respectively.

HUPD Lieutenant William K. Donaldson said Harvard community members need to keep their "heads up" and be alert.

"You get a sense of the boldness of the perpetrators. It was a bold move on the part of the thieves and a bold move on the part of the victim," Donaldson said.

Donaldson said a similar laptop theft was reported last month.

According to Donaldson, a female Harvard undergraduate's laptop computer was stolen in the middle of the afternoon while she was sitting at the Science Center rock fountain.

The thieves took the computer from her side while she remained sitting there.

"[Laptops] are easy to remove and conceal. Some months, monetary losses from stolen laptops exceed monetary losses from stolen bicycles," Donaldson said.

HUPD Lieutenant Lawrence Murphy said from midnight until 8 a.m., only one guard is on duty at the Science Center and the building remains open to the public.

According to Rick Osterberg, coordinator of residential computing support, 45 percent of Harvard undergraduates own laptops. For these students, HUPD recommends taking stronger actions to protect their property.

Donaldson said students interested in avoiding laptop theft should look into a new laptop registration program implemented by HUPD this month.

HUPD will be using a new initiative called Security Tracking of Office Property (STOP) to deter thieves from stealing laptops.

The program involves attaching a metal plate to the computer casing that prevents the stolen property from being sold.

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