Parents Outraged Over Stolen Thumb Drive

11:02 PM, May 24, 2010   |    comments
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WOODBRIDGE, Va. (WUSA) -- Some parents at Lake Ridge Middle School in Woodbridge are furious. At a public meeting in the school's cafeteria, they learned the details of how a thumb drive containing their children's personal information was stolen.

The device was taken from a bag in an administrator's unlocked car in her unlocked garage.

"There are plenty of ways to access information. Not on a thumb drive, in a car, in a residence," said one parent.

"When I first heard about it, I was scared, I was mad," said parent Julie Hall. "I'm now thinking, 'Is somebody gonna steal my child?'"

"We don't know if a pedophile has this information, and they know where I live," said Tracey Duval, another parent.

On the stolen thumb drive: personal information on more 1,200 students-their names, phone numbers and sensitive information, including whether they have a medical condition.

Countered Lake Ridge Principal Jo Fitzgerald, "What was not on the thumb drive was social security numbers or any pictures of the students. Also, there were no addresses on that thumb drive either."

That was little consolation for many parents, stunned that the thumb drive was not encrypted.

"This in itself is a very wide open risk that should have been approached, even addressed, prior to this even coming up," said Ron Burgess, the father of a 7th grader.

"You've got 7th graders that can hack into your system. They bypass the Facebook in the library," added his wife, Linda Burgess.

The theft occurred last Monday evening. Students brought home a letter to notify their parents on Friday.

"I'm still afraid for my child," said Olivia Trammel. "And the fact that it didn't come out til Friday and my daughter was at the bus stop from Monday through Friday by herself."

The school system is now reviewing its security procedures.

Also on the stolen thumb drive: whether a student walked home or took the bus. Prince William County Police are investigating the theft, which was part of a rash of burglaries in a local neighborhood.

Written by Andrea McCarren
9NEWS NOW & WUSA9.COM

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