Although this case doesn't represent the first time a thief has been tracked down by the very item he / she swiped, it does mark the first time in the history of SETI@home that the number crunching actually discovered something substantial. In another tale of good things happening to diligent people, a Minnesota husband installed the Berkeley-created software onto his wife's laptop to run whilst sitting unused, but he probably never imagined that having it check in with the California-based servers every so often would help him track down a crook. The lappie, which just so happened to house numerous crucial documents from his wife's writing collection, was jacked from their possession on New Year's Day, but as any determined and intelligent being would do, James Melin monitored the SETI@home database until the missing machine logged back into the UC mainframe, where a subpoena was then used to unearth the physical location of the stolen property. As of now, no arrests have been made, and while no pertinent documents were deleted or tampered with, Mrs. Melin noted that the perpetrator (or the eventual underground buyer's) taste in music was among the worst she's ever heard of judging by the foreign tracks that were gifted to her when the laptop returned. But what we really have here is just another good reason to join Engadget's Folding@home team!

[Via Slashdot]