Monday, May 22, 2006 1:22 PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Personal data on about 26.5 million U.S. military veterans was stolen from the residence of a Department of Veterans Affairs data analyst who improperly took the material home, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said Monday.
The data included names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for the veterans, Nicholson said, but "there is no indication at this time" that the data had been used for identify theft.
Nicholson said the theft of the data took place this month, but declined to identify the employee or the location of the burglary.
"The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. We have a full-scale investigation going on in this," Nicholson told reporters by telephone. He said the FBI, local law enforcement authorities and his department's inspector general's office were looking into the matter.
"They believe that this was a random burglary and not targeted at this data," Nicholson added, saying there had been a series of burglaries in the community where the employee lived.
Nicholson identified the employee only as a male career department worker, not a political appointee. He said the employee "took home a considerable amount of electronic data from the VA which he was not authorized to do. It was in violation of our rules and regulations and policies."