RealTime IT News

Stolen University Laptop Recovered

San Francisco police have arrested a man after recovering a stolen laptop that held personal data of nearly 100,000 University of California, Berkeley students and applicants.

The computer, containing the information of 98,000 people, was swiped March 11 when the thief entered a restricted area of the Graduate Division office, which was momentarily unoccupied, according to the university.

Administrators originally feared the data might be used by crooks to open up bank accounts or obtain credit cards. It is not clear whether any incidents of fraud has actually taken place.

The university said the computer had a new operating system installed after the theft.

The unnamed San Francisco man was charged with possession of stolen property after campus police discovered the laptop had been sold over the internet by him to a South Carolina resident.

The man told police that he did not know the name of the woman who sold him the laptop, but he provided a description of her that matched that of a woman seen leaving the campus’s Graduate Division offices on March 11 with the laptop, according to campus police.

"UC police note that while a lab analysis could not determine whether the sensitive campus data was ever accessed, nothing in their investigation points to identity theft nor individuals involved in identity theft. It appears, they said, that the intent was simply to steal and sell a laptop computer," the university said in its statement.

This year has seen a series of universities victimized by computer security breaches.

Just this week, Miami University, of Oxford, Ohio, announced a file containing information on 21,000 students was left exposed on the school's server for the past three years.