Files that contained important University of Tampa information were stolen from the office of a senior administrator it was revealed earlier this week.
The theft, which occurred over the summer session, has left many on campus worried.
Details remained sketchy at press time, as UT administration said they believed the matter was too sensitive to discuss.
Charles Mascenik, UT’s director of Safety and Security, told The Minaret that the incident was reported to Campus Security and a report was immediately filed with the Tampa Police Department.
Mascenik added that authorities believe construction work during the summer may have given the thieves access to the files.
“The doors to the office may have been left open because of fumes in the area,” explained Mascenik.
Weeks of investigations have yielded very few leads in the case, but according to Mascenik, thefts of this kind are “not really common” at UT.
The Security official admitted that a similar incident occurred over two years ago when it was discovered that a UT employee was stealing from fellow employees.
Still, The Minaret has learned that in recent weeks rumors have circulated that the documents, contained personal information such as the salaries and social security numbers of faculty and staff. A chief UT official has denied those claims.
While the official did not go into detail about the type of information in the files, the administrator did admit that the documents contained internal UT business.
Had the files contained the personal information of UT staff and faculty, threats such as identity theft could have spelled trouble for the institution.
According to experts, personal information such as a social security number, address or checking account numbers can be combined to launch devastating attacks on a person’s identity.
They said this information can be used for a variety of purposes, such as opening up false accounts or obtaining credit cards in another person’s name.
Watchdog groups also insist that identity theft is becoming a commonly used household term and is showing up on police reports more frequently.
Some law enforcement agencies are even calling identity theft “the fastest growing crime in America.”
According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
In a 2003 study entitled “Major Metropolitan Areas Ranking for Identity Theft – Related Complaints,” the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area ranked as number 19 on the list of major cities in the country that battle identity theft.
The study, which is the most recent of its kind, revealed that in 2003 more than 1,800 identity theft cases were reported to local authorities.