- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

A laptop computer containing personal data — this time of 13,000 D.C. employees — was stolen earlier this month in Southeast.

D.C. police are investigating the theft from the home of a D.C. government contract employee in Southeast.

Also stolen from the home of an employee of ING Financial Services were nine cans of beer, a digital video disc player, two jars of change and a video game system, said police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile.

Sgt. Gentile said detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s 6th District have been investigating the case since the theft was reported Friday.

The company announced over the weekend that the computer, which contained workers’ Social Security numbers, had no passwords and was not encrypted. The theft took place sometime June 10 or 11, police said.

Officials at ING, which oversees the D.C. government’s retirement program, said they do not think the thief was motivated by the sensitive personal information on the computer.

The company did not tell D.C. officials about the theft until Friday. Officials said they plan to mail letters to employees and retirees this week informing them about the incident.

A contractor working on the home of the unidentified ING employee was the first to notice the break-in, Sgt. Gentile said.

Company officials said they hired a private investigation firm to work with D.C. police. They also are reviewing company practices to ensure all laptop computers are protected by encryption and passwords.

Brian Comer, president of ING Life Insurance and Annuity Co., on Saturday called the theft “an unfortunate situation.”

Last month, a laptop containing personal information of 26.5 million people was stolen from the Aspen Hill home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee.

If the fallout of the Veterans Affairs theft is any indication, the disclosure of city employee’s personal data could pose legal troubles for the District.

On June 9, an Army veteran from California filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District against the Department of Veterans Affairs over the security breach.

Daniel Kennedy said he was one of the veterans whose private personal information was “unlawfully” disclosed through the theft of the computer files, the lawsuit said.

Mr. Kennedy’s lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, also calls for federal officials to pay $1,000 to each affected person as well as provide identity and credit monitoring.

ING officials said they will provide one year of credit monitoring and fraud protection for city employees and retirees.

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