Visiting Professor from Pakistan Mugged in Davis, Years of Research Stolen

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DAVIS — A visiting professor from Pakistan was robbed at gunpoint in Davis.

He’s safe but years of research was stolen when the alleged robbers took a laptop and hard drive.

Professor Syed Shah often left the lab late and he would bike home. On Friday night, however, his bike had a flat tire.

On his way home that night, Shah said he saw a car pulled over.

“The passenger got out and approached the victim with a handgun and, essentially, told him to surrender his backpack and valuables,” said Davis Police Lt. Art Camacho

Lynn Kimsey, the director of the University of California, Davis Bohart Museum of Etymology, said Shah was walking home with a new laptop he borrowed and the external hard drive that housed all his data.

Shah is in his last month of visiting and said the hard drive holds around seven years worth of research and his teaching notes.

“He was pretty upset because his whole life was on that hard drive,” Kimsey said. “We’re talking about thousands of man-hours.”

Shah told FOX40 that having a gun in his face didn’t faze him because he’s from Peshawar, Pakistan, an area that’s seen devastating attacks from the Taliban. He just wants his hard drive back.

“It’s of no value to them. I don’t think you can really sell external hard drives for anything, but it’s of infinite value for him,” Kimsey said.

Professor Shah’s work deals with one specific type of wasp, which he often spends hours photographing and documenting. He says whoever has the hard drive now will surely have no use for the research stored on it.

Lt. Camacho said people walking alone at night, especially with backpacks, can become easy targets.

Shah already recovered his composure and now he’s hoping to recover the only remaining copy of his work.

His personal laptop, which had a backup of his research, was stolen a few months ago at an airport in Dubai.

A GoFundMe was set up to help Shah and his research.

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