The toil of the Bay Area's laptop thieves used to be simple: Hang around parking lots and cafes, nab an unattended computer, and put ads on Craigslist.
However, thanks to carelessness at an East Bay nuclear weapons lab, this workday has the potential to become much more tiring. Thanks to nuclear weapons workers' apparent habit of abandoning government laptops in public places, computer thieves may be now compelled to forgo Craigslist, and instead make sales calls to Al Qaeda operatives and North Korean spies.
According to a May report by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Energy, employees of the nuclear weapons research facility Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, have suffered a epidemic of laptop thefts.
According to the Inspector General Report:
During the course of our field work, we interviewed nine individualsLawrence Livermore Labs main task consists of keeping America's nuclear
who had reported their Government laptops stolen. Five said their
laptops were stolen from their personal vehicles while offsite, and
four of the individuals acknowledged that their laptops were clearly
visible from outside their vehicles. They also acknowledged that, in
hindsight, they should have better protected their laptops. We
confirmed with the individuals that none of them had received any
disciplinary action or were held financially liable for the stolen
weapons stockpile up to date through the use of advanced science,
engineering, and technology. So one can only imagine the kind of
extraordinarily valuable information such laptops could theoretically
contain -- especially if a thief were able to find a special-needs
client, like, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
report sttes Lawrence Livermore's highly educated employees weren't
merely wont to lose devices to theft. They're apparently so terrible
at keeping track of equipment that dozens of devices have disappeared,
possibly appropriated by recently-fired employees, possibly merely
Following a recent spate Lawrence Livermore layoffs, in
which employees were let go and told to leave the premises on the same
day, managers reported they had no idea what had become of lab property
that had been assigned to the ex-employees. The property included
computers, lab equipment, and cameras -- the kind of equipment that
could turn into a golden parachute if placed in the hands of an A.Q.
Khan or Kim Jong-il.
According to the report:
sampled 125 property items assigned to 75 of the individuals who were
given a final termination notification and were required to depart the
facility on the same day. The 125 items, which included computers,
cameras, and laboratory equipment, had been redistributed to new
custodians. Using the data in Sunflower and with the assistance of
property center representatives, we physically searched for the 125
property items. Of the 125 items, we could not immediately locate 22
of the missing items were computers, some of which could only be
located when the property center representatives electronically
"pinged" the computers via the local network to determine their
physical location since no one we interviewed had any knowledge as to