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 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.