VA laptop thieves apprehended
Maryland law enforcement authorities announced the arrest on Saturday of two state men allegedly responsible for the May theft of a laptop and hard drive containing the personal information of millions of veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
An investigation into the incident confirmed that the personal information included on the laptop and hard drive was not compromised.
Jesus Alex Pineda and Christian Brian Montano, both 19 years old and of Rockville, Md., were arrested early Saturday morning after a three-month investigation in cooperation with the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General.
Pineda was charged with first-degree burglary and theft over $500. Montano was charged with first-degree burglary, theft over $500 and conspiracy to commit theft over $500.
Charges are pending against a third male suspect - a juvenile who is being held on another charge, according to a news release from the Montgomery County Police.
The pair's alleged actions will have a lasting impact on how the federal government stores personal information.
The laptop theft resulted in a personnel shakeup at VA, as well as a White House directive that federal department improve their data storage techniques.
Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Merger commended his officers in a statement. Asked for comment, a police spokesperson referred reporters to a statement released on Saturday.
"While recovery of the laptop was a top priority, our 4th District detectives never wavered in their commitment to tracking down those responsible for the theft," he said. "The cooperative efforts and tenacity paid off today with the positive identifications of the suspects and their arrests."
Montano and Pineda were not seeking to steal a laptop, according to the police statement, and the pair did not know its contents until the case was publicized.
Police said the duo will likely be tied to other Maryland burglaries.