The laptop stolen from UC Berkeley was supposed to be encrypted this month, Felde said. The computer, which required a password to operate, was left unattended for a few minutes in a restricted area of a campus office before someone walked in and stole it, Felde said. A campus employee witnessed the theft and reported it to university police.
Authorities suspect the thief was more interested in swiping a computer than people's identities. Felde said there been no evidence so far to indicate the stolen information has been used for identify theft.
The stolen laptop contained the Social Security numbers of UC Berkeley students who received their doctorates from 1976 through 1999, graduate students enrolled at the university between fall 1989 and fall 2003 and graduate school applicants between fall 2001 and spring 2004. Some graduate students in other years also were affected.
The stolen computer files also included the birth dates and addresses of about one-third of the affected people.