Personal info may be at risk after burglary

January 16, 2007

By Jeremy Hunt

At least three computers and four monitors were stolen from the associate provost's office overnight between Jan. 2 and 3, said Lt. Pat Davis, UNM Police spokesman.

The computers may have contained faculty members' names and Social Security numbers, said Richard Holder, associate provost.

The alarm for the building had not been set up, so no one knew the burglary happened until staff went into the office on Jan. 3, he said.

"It was discovered right away, as soon as they opened the office," he said. "My secretary's (computer) was taken. It was sitting on her desk."

Davis said the burglary happened after the office moved from the west end of Scholes Hall to the east end, making it difficult for the staff to determine if something had been stolen or just misplaced.

The office moved all its equipment, but it did not have everything set up, and some things were still unaccounted for, Davis said.

The staff is working with UNM Police to see if more equipment needs to be reported stolen, he said.

"They're doing inventory. Some things have been recovered," he said. "When you're desk's where it's not supposed to be, it makes it even harder."

The associate provost's office sent an e-mail to faculty members Jan. 9, warning that their personal information may have been accessed and suggested precautionary steps to prevent identity theft.

Holder said his office wanted to let faculty members know what had happened, even though there was probably no personal information on the computers.

"There was a possibility that one of the computers might have had some, but we're fairly confident that it didn't," he said. "In this situation, you want to err on the side of caution."

Caroline Smith, an associate professor of linguistics, said she is not worried about her information being used. Smith monitors her credit carefully, and the office doesn't even know what was on the computers, she said.

"It's not clear what happened really," she said.

Smith said she is not happy about the theft, but she understands how it could have happened.

"The University is bound to have that information somewhere. It doesn't get widely disseminated," she said. "Computers get stolen."

The Faculty Contract and Services Office also had computers taken from it. Raquel Martinez, director of the office, said no one should worry about the computers taken from her office.

"We don't keep faculty information on computers," she said.

Davis said the value of the computers has not been determined, but it will be enough to make the crime a felony.

He said more equipment may be reported stolen as the investigation continues. He declined to comment about details of the investigation.

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