Marysville Police still looking for leads on theft of Arlington school employee SSNs
By KIRK BOXLEITNER
Arlington Times Reporter
February 8, 2011 · 4:17 PM
MARYSVILLE — Marysville Police are still searching for leads in the theft of approximately 65 Arlington School District employees' Social Security Numbers.
According to Marysville Police Lt. Darin Rasmussen, detectives are continuing to review the case to follow up on any possible leads, but the investigation is currently at an impasse.
"When something like Social Security Numbers are taken, there are limits to how solvable such cases are until they're actually used," Rasmussen said. "There aren't many other factors involved in this case."
The list of names and Social Security Numbers was stolen from the vehicle of an Arlington School District employee on Jan. 29, in the 4900 block of 106th Street NE in Marysville. Arlington School District Public Information Coordinator Andrea Conley explained that the employee was taking several pieces of mail, addressed to the district's benefit providers, to the post office. The employee had placed the list, as well as envelopes containing checks the district had made out to its vendors, in her briefcase, which she'd then placed in her vehicle in turn, but the vehicle was broken into and the briefcase was stolen before she could send that mail.
A report was filed with Marysville Police that same day, while three Arlington School District officials spent the following day, Jan. 31, calling the employees on the list to notify them of the theft.
"They were able to contact nearly all of the affected employees, or else leave messages as to what had happened," said Conley, who noted that the district sent out an e-mail to its staff on Jan. 31 informing them what had happened, in addition to recommending that they place fraud alerts on any credit accounts that other people would attempt to open in their names. An official letter documenting the incident and repeating this recommendation was distributed via postal mail on Feb. 1. "The district will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments to the support plan as needed and necessary. Changes have been made in office practices to avoid further potential compromising of employee confidential information."
According to Mike Johnson, the district's executive director of human relations, one possible means of preventing a repeat of these events would be to omit or redact district employees' Social Security Numbers from reports that don't require them, which he believes could have included the stolen mail.
While Conley and Johnson apologized for the inconvenience to the district's employees, Rasmussen cited the theft as an example of why situational awareness is so important.
"Always be conscious of your surroundings," Rasmussen said. "Just as you wouldn't with your wallet or purse or other valuables, don't leave important ID information in your vehicle. Its potential impact is significant if it falls into the wrong hands."Contact Arlington Times Reporter Kirk Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-659-1300 Ext. 5052.