Nfld. & Labrador

Personal data on 28,000 schoolchildren stolen

A laptop computer holding a database with personal information on thousands of Newfoundland schoolchildren has been stolen.

A laptop computer holding a database with personal information on thousands of Newfoundland schoolchildren was among several stolen during a robbery, school officials said Thursday.

The database — with information on 28,000 students, most in the St. John's area — includes names, addresses, medicare numbers, phone numbers and the names of guardians, the Eastern School District board said.

The four laptops were stolen from the district's offices in Atlantic Place, an office complex in downtown St. John's.

The robbery occurred Sunday, but was not reported to the public for four days.

"We are very concerned," chief executive officer Darrin Pike. "Obviously it's not a good thing, it's not something we want to minimize."

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is investigating.

"From what the RNC tells us, [thieves] tend to reformat the hard drives and resell them," Pike said in an interview.

"They're not interested in the data in most cases. They're just interested in the box."

The database was being used by an employee who arranges bus schedules. The data involved was downloaded from a server.

Pike said the laptops are password-protected, although the information was not encrypted.

Meanwhile, Pike said that MCP — Newfoundland and Labrador's medicare authority — has advised that patient records are not at risk.

Students involved in the breach are at 56 schools in the Avalon East region, and at one school in the Avalon West region.