Two Navy laptops with recruit information stolen

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Two laptops containing the personal information of 31,000 U.S. Navy recruits and applicants were stolen in the past two months from recruiting stations in New Jersey.

Taken from two different offices, the laptops also contained 4,000 Social Security numbers.

Navy spokesman Lt. Bashon Mann said today that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the incident in conjunction with local authorities.

"The Navy has been in the process for two to three weeks now of identifying the affected individuals," he said, adding that the information was protected by numerous levels of password protection.

The recruiting stations where the laptops were stolen from were located in Trenton and Jersey City, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Robert Menedez, D-N.J.

Earlier this month, the personal information of more than 100,000 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel were mistakenly listed on the Naval Safety Center website.

The site remained closed to visitors for four days after officials removed the names and Social Security numbers from the website.

In addition, the same confidential data was saved on more than 1,000 web-enabled safety system program disks mailed to Navy and Marine Corps command centers.

In late June, the personal information of about 28,000 sailors and their family members was also posted on five spreadsheets on an unnamed public website.

Menendez, the state's junior senator, also called on Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter to release a full account of the thefts.

"It is appalling and almost criminal that New Jerseyans who are answering their nations call to serve cannot count on their personal information to be properly secured. Sailors serve an integral role in our nation's defense and in the global war on terror – the least we can do is protect the personal information they volunteer during the application process," he said. "The secretary of the Navy needs to provide a full accounting of how this occurred, as well as how the Department of the Navy will rectify a situation that could impact thousands of New Jerseyans."

The senator's press office did not provide additional comment today.

Both breaches followed the May theft of a Department of Veterans Affairs laptop containing the personal details of 17.5 million members of the Armed Forces.

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