Theft puts law officers at risk from ID theft

May 19, 2007

By Steve Stoler

Law officers from all across Texas could be at risk from identity theft because a database containing their personal information may have got into the wrong hands.

The Wylie police department is one of 2,600 state and local law enforcement agencies regulated by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education. Every licensed peace officer, jailer and telecommunicator in Texas is on the TCLEOSE database.

PCI, the Houston company that was burglarized, is asking anyone in that database who feels they be the victim of fraud to call them.

Burglars hit 23 buildings in one area of Houston. They stole several laptop computers from Productivity Center Incorporated, or PCI, including one that belonged to the commission.

Every officer's social security number, date of birth and driver's license is at risk.

Donna Valdepena, a Wylie police detective, has been through an identity theft scare before. She and her husband were in the air force, when a veteran's laptop was stolen, which included the names of 26 million people who served in the military.

"You have all the police officers' addresses and phone numbers and that kind of thing and that is really disturbing," said Donna Valdepena, a Wylie police detective.

She well knows the risks involved.

"That's our identity, you know. Somebody could be buying cars, using my name, using his name, using our social security numbers."

PCI was working on updating the its database. Veteran police officers like Stephen Coomer are upset so much sensitive information was kept on a laptop.

"With that kind of information, you would kind of hope there was a little bit higher security."

Coomer is among the more than 229,000 licensed law enforcement officers whose personal information was in that stolen computer.

"There's always a bit of unsettled peace, concerns for your family, things like that. But I think we live with that day to day, so you kind of accept it a little bit."

TCLEOSE officials say because so many buildings were burglarized, they have no reason to believe the thieves targeted their computer, and to this point nothing has been compromised.

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