• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 12:02pm
NewsHong Kong

Immigration laptop theft suspect revealed through footage

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 4:03am

Security footage led detectives to single out one of 40 immigration officers as a suspect in the theft of three laptop computers containing sensitive data from the airport's immigration office last month, police say.

But they fear the suspect could escape prosecution if the Immigration Department computers are not retrieved and no new evidence is found.

The interior of the locked immigration office where the laptops were kept is not covered by surveillance cameras. It is understood the computers stored the personal data, including passport images, of about 3,000 transit travellers who immigration officers had deemed to be suspicious in some way upon arrival. Their travel documents had been scanned to prevent such visitors from using other identities to board other flights or to revisit the city.

The data was transferred to the department's server and deleted regularly if no further suspicions arose.

A police source said a closed-circuit television system at the airport's restricted area captured the suspect walking out of the office with a bag that appeared to contain heavy objects.

The suspect was among a handful of immigration officers who were observed entering and leaving the office during the period when the devices were stolen.

"We have identified this suspect, but we need evidence to present in court," the source said. "The missing computers are crucial evidence in the case."

He admitted that the suspect might go unpunished if the laptops could not be recovered.

"The suspect is also in law enforcement and knows this well," the source said. There was no indication that the data was the intended target of the theft, the source said. "We believe the immigration officer simply found an opportunity to steal the laptops," the source said.

It is believed the computers were taken away from the airport and probably sold to a second-hand goods trader for a few thousand dollars.

As part of their search, New Territories South regional crime unit officers interviewed traders and hawkers in the Apliu Street second-hand electronic goods market in Sham Shui Po, but to no avail. They also made a fruitless search of the homes of some of 40 immigration officers who were under investigation.


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This article is now closed to comments

During SARS in the year 2003, it was hard to find employment, Many senior immigration officer recruited their relatives at that time and later hand pick them and promoted them. this has cause so much trouble to those who deserve promotion and lost their rights due to these hand picking method. Many professional and intelligent officers are still at low rank while stupid and untrained are sitting on higher posts.
incident like this is not SHOCKING for me, anyone aggrieved by this system even could have destroyed the whole computer system not to mention only 4 laptops. Because he was only able to take 4 lap tops. i am sure he will not be busted at the end of the day and i will be happy if he is not. Police, You guys better ask immigration department to clean your own sh*t yourself.


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