Computer stolen from state health office in Montana

July 7, 2006

Associated Press

A state government computer was stolen during a July Fourth break-in at the offices of a drug dependency program, and officials were trying to determine Friday when it contained sensitive information.

Top officials in state government were unaware Friday morning that the Public Health and Human Services computer, assigned to a state chemical dependancy program officer, had disappeared.

Helena Police Chief Troy McGee said a burglar broke in over the holiday. A state worker who went into the building that day noticed a skylight had been broken and called police.

Police were not informed if the computer contained any sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers or medical information, he said.

Recent thefts of computer equipment elsewhere in the country have led to concerns about how confidential information is handled.

In Maryland, thieves stole computer equipment from a Veterans Affairs analyst.s home containing Social Security numbers and other personal data on 26.5 million veterans and military troops. The equipment was later recovered.

Dick Clark, a Montana government spokesman, said the latest theft was not reported to his agency. The state.s handling of sensitive information is expected to be a hot topic next week at a legislative committee hearing.

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