State: No data breach after stolen laptop traced to Indy home

Anti-theft software led police to home

INDIANAPOLIS - State officials said no data was breached after a state worker’s stolen laptop was tracked down to a home on the east side of Indianapolis.

A longtime employee with the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) told police her state-issued laptop was stolen from the back seat of her car at a local Meijer store, where she was grocery shopping in June.

State Capitol Police recovered the laptop at a home this week, pinpointing its location by using an anti-theft program installed on most state laptop computers.

Officers wrote in a search warrant that the anti-theft device began sending signals to a central tracking system immediately after the computer was stolen. The device reported its position at least 92 times, the most recent being on June 12.

When the device was used to access the Internet, investigators tracked its latitude and longitude to a home on the east side of Indianapolis, in a neighborhood off East 38th Street and North German Church Road.

Police issued a subpoena to the Internet Service Provider linked to those online logins, and later came up with the name of a woman who lives at that address.

As police searched her home, they reported finding the stolen state laptop, along with the power charging cord that was stolen with it.

Captain Dave Bursten with Indiana State Police said the woman had purchased the stolen laptop from someone else, so the woman is considered a victim and not a suspect.

Investigators were tracking details of her purchase transaction in hopes of locating the person who sold her the stolen state computer.

“Investigations like this serve as a reminder of ‘buyer beware’ because when the purchase price of an item seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true,” Bursten wrote in an email.

He said the woman is now without the laptop and the money she paid for it.  “The investigation is ongoing in an attempt to identify who committed the theft,” he wrote.

DCS spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said any data regarding children or their families on the computer is secure. “There was no data breach,” she said.

She said that, regardless of whether someone was able to log onto the Internet with the state computer, all of its data and client files are encrypted.

The employee who reported the computer stolen received an honor from Indiana’s governor last year, recognizing her 35 years of service to the Department of Child Services.

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