A suspect has been arrested and charged in the theft of a laptop computer stolen July 27, 2006, in Florida from a vehicle of a special agent in the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Department of Transportation. Among other data, the computer contained information about Florida commercial driver license holders (CDL).
The suspect was identified in a surveillance operation and admitted stealing numerous laptops, but did not admit to stealing the special agent’s laptop, according to OIG information.
Further investigation led to others involved in the existence of a small theft ring that took laptops at and near the restaurant where the agent's was stolen. The theft ring loaded new operating systems, and then sold the computers on the used computer market—primarily to high school students. The interviews also confirmed that the ring did not target the data and did not attempt to access the data on the laptops.
The computer taken July 27 was one of two computers assigned to special agents that were stolen in Florida. The other theft occurred in April 2006. A third laptop computer containing CDL information was stolen in a separate incident from DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) August 22 in Baltimore MD, according to earlier DOT information.
DOT said the computer stolen in July in Florida contained data of 133,000 Florida residents, including holders of the CDLs, FAA airman certificates, and personal driver licenses obtained from the Largo FL licensing facility. The data did not contain financial or medical data, but did contain personally identifiable information. DOT did not elaborate in its news release on the computer's contents that was stolen in April.
FMCSA said the laptop taken in Maryland may contain personally identifiable information pertaining to 193 individuals who hold a commercial driver's license (CDL) from 40 motor carrier companies. It does not appear that the laptop contained any financial or medical information, but it did contain individual names, dates of birth, and CDL numbers.
In the April theft in Florida, the laptop was seized from a hotel meeting room. The Maryland incident also involved the computer being stolen from a government vehicle. DOT said the thefts are the first reported since the agency began using laptops more than a decade ago.
DOT is continuing to recommend that people who may have had information about themselves in the data contact one of the three major credit reporting bureaus to request that an initial fraud alert be placed on their credit record (which entitles them to one free credit report from each company); monitor bank and credit card statements and contact financial institutions to check for any suspicious activity on their accounts; and be vigilant to any phone calls, e-mails, and other communications from individuals purporting to be government officials and phishing for or asking to verify personal information. A DOT toll-free telephone number is available for further information at 800-424-9071.