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Driver drags man 100 feet after snatching his laptop in Oakland

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 7:53 p.m.

Finding out that two men had grabbed a man's laptop computer as he walked several blocks from the University of Pittsburgh campus made freshman Jennifer Odle rethink whether she could be a target.

“I've always thought of safety more in terms of my personal safety, not so much about my belongings,” Odle, 18, of White Oak said on Wednesday as she worked on her laptop outside the Carnegie Library.

Josh Moalemi, 26, told police that he was walking through the Sunoco parking lot on North Craig Street about 8:25 p.m. Tuesday when two men in a silver Pontiac Grand Prix pulled up near him.

The passenger, identified as Dwight Hester, 43, grabbed Moalemi's $1,800 MacBook laptop and said he would give it back for $300, according to a criminal complaint.

Moalemi told police that he reached into the car to get the laptop when the driver, Donald Boyd, 56, of the Hill District, sped off, dragging him about 100 feet.

Moalemi was conscious when police found him on Bayard Street with injuries to his right knee, police said. He also broke his foot when he fell after being sandwiched between two cars, according to the complaint.

Paramedics took him to UPMC Presbyterian, where he showed detectives a partial license plate photo he had taken with his iPhone, police said.

Two officers spotted the Pontiac about 9:40 p.m. in the Hill District with Boyd at the wheel, the complaint stated. Police showed Moalemi a photo array, and he identified Boyd as the driver.

Boyd was charged with robbery and other counts. He was in the Allegheny County Jail on $100,000 bail.

Court records show Hester has not been charged.

The incident occurred almost 48 hours after two men with a BB gun robbed 10 people during an hourlong spree in the same area.

Derrick Bragg, 42, and Keith Williams, 24, both of Oakland, were arrested and charged with the holdups on Sunday night along Bayard and Craig streets and Centre and Melwood avenues.

Pitt spokesman John Fedele said students are provided with a detailed list of tips to avoid becoming a crime victim.

University officials did not return messages seeking further comment on crimes on and around campus.

Pitt freshman Zach Schaffer, 18, of North Wales in Montgomery County thinks the fact that most college students carry laptops and other expensive devices could make them targets.

“I think the university does everything it can to make us safe — I mean you see cops patrolling everywhere — so avoiding becoming a target comes down to being smart,” said Schaffer, who was taking photos in Schenley Plaza on Wednesday afternoon.

“I definitely wouldn't go out at night carrying a camera or other expensive equipment,” he said

Pitt sophomore Ariel Cohn, 19, of Long Island, N.Y., said that although there is “definitely a strong police presence on campus,” she would like to see more emergency call boxes.

“I generally feel very safe, but I do worry when I'm walking back from class at night,” Cohn said.

Margaret Harding and Tony LaRussaare staff writers for Trib Total Media. Harding can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com. LaRussa can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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