Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Disc found in stolen laptops

By CHARLES BOOTH • (Tennessean) January 22, 2008 Police found no evidence that sensitive voter information was accessed or copied from two stolen Election Commission laptop computers, Police Chief Ronal Serpas said Monday, but that doesn’t mean some 337,000 registered Davidson County voters can stop worrying completely. During the examination of the computers, police discovered a compact disc in one of the laptops, and that disc contained information including voters’ Social Security numbers. Serpas said no fingerprints were found on the disc, but police can’t be sure that no one took it from the computer and copied it. Election Commission staff told police that the disc probably had been in that computer since November 2006. Robert Osbourne, a homeless man, turned himself in last week and told police that he stole the computers from the Davidson County Election Commission on Christmas Eve. Detectives had connected the theft to Osbourne, an ex-con, because he cut his hand in the break-in. Police then recovered the laptops from a Goodlettsville home and their hard-drive memories, which had been removed, from a downtown coffee bar where detectives say Osbourne fenced the machines. An analysis performed by the department’s Computer Crimes detectives concluded that the computers hadn’t even been turned on since they were stolen. Serpas said the experts can’t rule out the possibility that someone used high-tech equipment to copy or scan information in the computers, but he said that is highly unlikely. “If someone had very sophisticated equipment and software, they may have imaged the software,” he said. That equipment is hard to find. “It’s nothing you could go down to Best Buy or CompUSA and purchase,” Computer Crimes Detective Chad Gish said. “We do expect more arrests are forthcoming,” Serpas said. Metro government is offering a free year of credit monitoring to voters still concerned about the thefts.

No comments: