August 21, 2007 in Idaho

Guard data likely not compromised

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer
 

BOISE – Here’s one less worry for active Idaho National Guard members and their families: The personal data on Guard members that had been stolen in a car burglary last week doesn’t appear to have been compromised.

The Boise Police Department recovered the missing data over the weekend and returned the computer thumb drive to the Guard for investigation, Boise Police Lt. Alan Cavener said. The thumb drive contained names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers for all 3,400 active Idaho Guard members.

National Guard forensic investigators are examining it to see if it the data was accessed. “But there was nothing to indicate that it had been,” Cavener said. “Hopefully that will prove to be the case. That would be really bad if that information’s been compromised, obviously.”

Cavener credited “real old-fashioned, good police work” for recovering the data, which had been left overnight in a soldier’s car, parked outside a home in a Boise neighborhood that has been hit with multiple car burglaries. Though the car was locked, windows were rolled down far enough for the thieves to gain access without forcing entry.

The Idaho Guard said last week that the soldier violated no policies and faced no sanction, but the Guard is reviewing all its processes for handling sensitive personal information.

“That seems prudent,” said John Goheen, spokesman for the National Guard Association, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C. “In this day and age, data is on laptops, data is on thumb drives. … I think it’s probably prudent for the Idaho National Guard just to take a look at their policies and see what’s transpired, and how do we do everything we possibly can to safeguard some of those things.”

Dawn Groat, public information assistant for the Idaho National Guard, confirmed Monday that the thumb drive and a laptop computer were returned to the Guard. “You just never know if it was compromised or not, but there’s no evidence of it to our knowledge,” Groat said.

Police arrested one male juvenile suspect in connection with the theft and a string of other car burglaries. The night the data was taken, four vehicles in the Columbia Village neighborhood were burglarized. Other items stolen included car stereos and a wallet. Two car burglaries had been reported in the neighborhood in the previous week.

At 3 a.m. Saturday, Boise police received a call about two suspicious prowlers in the North End neighborhood, several miles away, who appeared to be casing cars for possible burglaries. Police responded quickly, formed a perimeter and brought out a search dog, who sniffed out a young male who was hiding in the bushes. Several stolen items were found in his car. He was arrested and charged with multiple counts of burglary.

Officers subsequently served a search warrant at a Boise home and recovered the laptop computer and thumb drive there, along with numerous other stolen items including car stereos and CDs.

Cavener said another juvenile also is suspected of involvement in the thefts, and the youngsters’ parents have been cooperating.

“We’re pretty excited about being able to clear up quite a few vehicle burglaries as a result of this,” he said.

He added, “Of course this is a lesson for most people that you don’t want to leave that kind of stuff in your car.”


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