Computer Thefts Are `Crimes of Opportunity'

Thieves often grabbing computers out of offices with open windows, unlocked doors


Kent State police are investigating the sixth theft of university-owned computers since the summer.

Lt. Carl Sweigert said the thefts appear to be crimes of opportunity -- an open window here, an unlocked door there.

``There's a lot of people walking around,'' Sweigert said. ``These are valuable commodities.''

The most recent theft took place over New Year's weekend.

The thief reached through an unlocked window to take a laptop off a development officer's desk on the second floor of Taylor Hall, home of the mass communication and architecture programs.

Taylor Hall also was the scene of the most extensive theft. In August, four computers and six monitors stolen from two deans' offices contained databases of identifying information on about 100,000 current and former KSU students and instructors.

A computer stolen in June from an unlocked KSU staffer's car also contained some faculty and staff records.

Three other computers were stolen in November -- from a possibly unsecured office at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, from Bowman Hall and from the Michael Schwartz Center, Sweigert said.

Greg Seibert director of security and compliance for KSU, said several of the stolen computers contained no sensitive information.

Of those that did, the material was password-protected and the university hasn't heard of any repercussions.

No one has reported that his or her identify has been stolen, although the university advised people to contact credit reporting agencies to put a free fraud alert on their Social Security numbers.

``I'm happy to say there's been no indication that people have used the information for financial gain,'' he said. ``I think we can breathe a sigh of relief.''

Seibert said he doesn't believe the thefts are related.

Each computer is valued at $1,000 to $2,000, he said.

Sweigert said the thefts do indicate that staff could take more care by locking doors and keeping a record of the serial number on each piece of equipment.

But securing the equipment can be difficult, he said.

``These are often multiple-use offices with many people,'' he said, and it's hard to track down who didn't lock up what when.

Akron Beacon Journal


Knight Ridder content Copyright 2005 provided via The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.