3 laptops with sensitive data missing from auditor's office

June 13, 2006

Minneapolis - St. Paul Star Tribune


St. Paul police are investigating the apparent theft of three computers from the office of State Auditor Patricia Anderson. The missing laptops might contain Social Security numbers and other personal information on some employees of local governments the auditor oversees.

"We've been going through the backups to see what was on them," Deputy Auditor Tony Sutton said Tuesday.

The loss was discovered late Thursday in a locked, unmarked fourth-floor area of the auditor's office near the State Capitol that is not open to the public and normally accessible only to 30 auditors and building staff members, Sutton said.

There was no evidence of forced entry and no clear indication of when the theft occurred because the auditors spend much of their time at local government site in the Twin Cities, he added.

The computers, valued at less than $4,000, could be tapped by identity thieves only by hacking into a password-protected program, Sutton said. To avert future losses, computers will be locked in cabinets or to cables when not in use, he said.

Police spokesman Paul Schnell said no suspects have been identified, but investigators are trying to track the computers via their serial numbers.

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