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Never steal a laptop from a geek.
That's the lesson for gadget-stealing thieves after Mark Bao made mince meat out of the reputation of a man who nicked his MacBook Air one and a half months ago.
The 18-year-old Boston, Massachusetts university student at the weekend posted on the web a video of the thief dancing to a rap song that was recorded with the stolen laptop's webcam.
The footage was found using special backup software he had installed on the laptop that would upload any new files to a computer server which only he had access to. "In essence I was able to get into their files," Bao said.
So when the thief decided to record some fancy new dance moves to music in front of his newly stolen laptop's web camera, the video file was uploaded to the server, which Bao said he only discovered at the weekend when looking for a file that had been backed up.
After seeing it, he decided to upload it to YouTube and it has since gone viral, attracting more than 500,000 views. Since then, Bao said the thief had contacted him telling him that he had returned the laptop to Bao's university campus police.
Through Facebook message, the thief also demanded that the video be taken down, Bao said.
"It basically [said] that he was really sorry [and] he [had] returned the laptop to the police station," Bao said.
"He wanted me to remove the video because it might impact his future."
Charges were yet to be laid, Bao said. Comment was sought from Bao's university's police station. At the time of writing a comment was not available due to time zone differences.
Asked if Bao would remove the video now that the laptop had been recovered, he said it "depends".
"'I'm still deliberating if I do want to [take the video down]. The thing was he asked me to take it down because he was really sorry about what happened," Bao said.
"The bottom line is there's two things: one thing is that he stole the laptop, which, you know, was kind of a bad thing. The second part is his apology letter wasn't even really spelt correctly. There were a bunch of grammar errors and I don't think it was really serious. If he was really serious in his response I would be a pretty forgiving guy. But it didn't seem like he was."
"I might take it down in the next few days, next two weeks. But I'm still out on the jury on that issue."