Plea to teen burglars: give me back my files

AN OXFORD academic was left distraught when her life s work was stolen in a dawn raid

Ben McPartland

AN OXFORD academic was left distraught when her life's work was stolen in a dawn raid.

Dr Janet Radcliffe-Richards was at her home in Huddleston Road in Tufnell Park when she woke up to find an intruder rummaging around in her bedroom.

The burglar ran off and by the time she came downstairs he had disappeared - along with two laptop computers where all her lectures and numerous chapters of books she was working on had been stored.

Dr Radcliffe-Richards, a former panellist on Radio 4's Moral Maze programme said: "I had only just got back from abroad and I was jetlagged.

"I thought I heard something at about 5am but I presumed it must have been a noise from the street.

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"But at 8am I woke up and saw someone in my bedroom. I think it was a young teenager. He ran off but I think they had been in the house for some time.

"Every piece of computing equipment has gone, even the back up disk drives. They contained an accumulation of all my notes and drafts over the last 25 years.

"It is a catastrophe. They have no idea. They won't get much for the computer, it was falling apart."

As well as pilfering the laptops the thieves escaped with external hard drives, an iPod, two mobile phones, digital cameras, three gold plated watches and the lecturer's passport.

Dr Radcliffe-Richards, a feminist philosopher who teaches at Oxford University and has written books including The Sceptical Feminist, is desperate to get her work back before the start of the new term.

She said: "I don't care about the equipment I just want the data but my fear is it may have been wiped by now.

"It happened during the vacation but I don't know how I am going to cope when term starts.

"I had also just finished an academic paper which I was about to send off. I expect they were looking for Christmas presents. If anyone got any unexpected gold plated watches then they might be able to help."

Dr Radcliffe Richards has put up posters around Tufnell Park appealing for help to get her data back.

She is offering a 'generous' reward but has been warned by the police it would be illegal to offer money 'with no questions asked'.

Anyone who can help should call investigating officers on 020-7421 0220.