Stolen laptop found; had over 98,000 students' personal data

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

UC Berkeley

San Francisco police have recovered a laptop stolen on March 11 from the University of California, Berkeley. The laptop was left unattended in the Graduate Division and contained personal information on 98,369 graduate students and applicants going as far back as 1976. This information included names, birth dates, addresses, and Social Security numbers.

The Silicon Valley forensic lab which analyzed the laptop said it had been reformatted, making it very difficult to determine if the data had been accessed. "There's nothing in the Police Department investigation that points to any type of identity theft or credit card theft" said university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore.

The laptop was stolen by an unknown woman, who sold it to Shuki Alburati, who sold the laptop to an unsuspecting South Carolina man. Shuki Alburati was arrested on June 8 for receiving stolen property; he has been charged with one misdemeanor count.

He claims he didn't know the laptop, a new IBM X40 worth $2,429, was stolen. He purchased the laptop from the woman, who said it wasn't stolen, for $300 or $340. A few days later, on April 19, he placed the laptop on eBay. The winning bidder was a man in South Carolina who bought the laptop for $1,195.50. Police have said this man is not a suspect. Police were alerted by IBM after the man called IBM for tech support.

Shuki Alburati has pleaded not guilty. He claimed "It's unfair, I didn't know it was stolen." His trial is scheduled for Sept. 30 before Superior Court Judge Michael Gaffey in Oakland. The woman who stole the laptop has not yet been found.

Sources

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