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By CINDY SIMPSON
A Roane State Community College 4-gigabyte flash drive containing names and Social Security numbers of 10,941 people, including those of past and present employees and students, was stolen from a college employee’s vehicle while it was off campus on Oct. 12.
A Knox County Sheriff's Office incident report said the flash drive and personal items were taken from the vehicle of William S. Fuqua III, Roane State's former vice president for financial services and former interim president.
According to the report, Fuqua said that the stolen items were taken from his vehicle between Oct. 9-12, a weekend. He told sheriff's officials he had accidentally left the vehicle's doors unlocked, the report said.
A news release alerting the possible identity concerns said the storage device, used for work-related purposes, and other personal property were taken from the vehicle.
Of the individuals whose names and Social Security numbers were on the device, 1,194 are current or former employees, and 9,747 were current or former students.
In addition, the device contained Social Security numbers only of 5,036 current or former students.
The college has sent letters to anyone that may be affected, the release said.
“While we have no reason to believe that the data was stolen for identity-theft purposes, we urge those affected to closely monitor their financial accounts for irregularities,” said Danny Gibbs, Roane State vice president for business and finance.
“Roane State deeply regrets the exposure of this data,” he added. “While Roane State policies define rules for protecting confidential data, when something like this happens, you stop, step back and take a look at everything you are doing.
“We are reviewing our procedures to determine what additional measures can be put in place to keep something like this form happening again.”
The Knox County Sheriff Office is investigating the theft.
“Immediately after the theft, we did not want to release information that would interfere with the investigation,” Gibbs said. “Once it became clear an arrest, or the recovery of the device, was not imminent, we informed those affected as quickly as possible.”