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Sysadmin Steals Almost 20,000 Pieces of Computer Equipment 258

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong dept.
coondoggie writes "Now this is some serious computer theft. We're talking 19,709 pieces of stolen computer equipment from the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. The theft included everything from PCs and printer toner to hard drives, software and other office equipment amounting to over $120,000, according to court documents and published reports."
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Sysadmin Steals Almost 20,000 Pieces of Computer Equipment

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  • by Xylaan (795464) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:00AM (#25231297)
    That would be more impressive, until you realize the average value of each piece is $6.08.

    So my guess is a few big ticket items, and then lots and lots and LOTS of some small item.

    • by Westley (99238)

      My thoughts exactly. Was this a case of 19,000 pencils and then a few PCs?

      • by LordKronos (470910) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:26AM (#25231471) Homepage

        No, it was just a couple PCs. They're just using the RIAA/CD-R theory to say that, since it was a couple really fast computers, it was the equivalent of thousands of 386's.

      • by mlush (620447) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @09:09AM (#25231831)

        My thoughts exactly. Was this a case of 19,000 pencils and then a few PCs?

        Couldn't be, were talking 'military spec' pencils which cost at least $200 each

        • by MindKata (957167) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @09:55AM (#25232325) Journal
          "were talking 'military spec' pencils"

          I know you're joking, but I was thinking something similar. Could it be ex-military spec junk hardware?. It could just be junk hardware that's getting thrown out (over a 10 year period), but is not officially signed off as allowed to be taken home as junk. From the paper trail it would look like the junk was still owned. Plus if people leave the organisation who allowed others to take some old junk home, then it would be hard to prove it was given away as rubbish. The paperwork would say it was still owned.

          Considering how they are (only) now starting to take security a lot more seriously, I'm wondering if they are making an example of this person, who's basically got a house and/or garage full of junk?. Plus a system admin working for them, would probably get access to a lot of junk old hardware. It could just be old rubbish, but to paranoid non-technical types, who are looking for demons to fear everywhere, they would see it as wrong, rather than just seeing some engineer collecting a lot of interesting looking rubbish, before it hits the rubbish bins.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by mlush (620447)

            "were talking 'military spec' pencils" I know you're joking, but I was thinking something similar. Could it be ex-military spec junk hardware?. It could just be junk hardware that's getting thrown out (over a 10 year period), but is not officially signed off as allowed to be taken home as junk. From the paper trail it would look like the junk was still owned.

            Could be, its very easy to get into the Magpie mindset when you see stacks of perfectly good hardware go to waste. and there is always a constant supply of /better stuff/ dropping down towards the wastebin

            • by tsm_sf (545316)
              from TFA: private information from 14 employees and contractors who worked at the laboratory from 1998 to 2002 had been found on CDs or zip drives (emphasis mine)

              Cutting edge military hardware.
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by BlackSnake112 (912158)

                from TFA: private information from 14 employees and contractors who worked at the laboratory from 1998 to 2002 had been found on CDs or zip drives (emphasis mine)

                Cutting edge military hardware.

                Well those zip drives did have the click of death....

          • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:30AM (#25232735) Journal

            Exactly. And how many of us in IT have a closet full of "junk" that was given to us? Could we show paperwork? Hell no! I know that I am staring at nearly a half a dozen office machines that were given to me because the business thought they wee junk and I talked them out of it. And that don't count the ones I've given to family members,donated to charity,etc.

            And with a couple of buddies in the Air Force I can tell you that the military is notorious for replacing things that don't really need replacing so they can spend their budget rather than give it back and possibly get a smaller budget next year. One even put actual theater seats in his home theater because the brass decided to spend some of the budget replacing seats that didn't need replacing.

            So while I'm sure that poor bastard is probably screwed(because who is going to remember which officer 10+ years ago told him he could have it?) there is lots of hardware floating around out there "off the books" and just as I'm sure that the accountants for this national chain I did work for a year and a half ago doesn't know that the 733MHZ I run my old DOS games was actually given to me by the local head of the business department then I'm willing to bet a lot of what they are charging this guy with is actually junk he either dumpster dove for or was simply handed.

            • by tsm_sf (545316) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:42AM (#25232907) Journal
              the military is notorious for replacing things that don't really need replacing so they can spend their budget rather than give it back and possibly get a smaller budget next year.

              That's not a phenomenon unique to the military. Any organization of a decent size will use this approach to budget management. Everyone knows how this works, everyone spends tons of cash on random crap at the end of their fiscal year (or what have you), and everyone sees this as inherently detrimental. You are (IMHO) an adult when you finally realize that everyone's a damn idiot. ((you are wise when you include yourself))
          • I have actually worked on disposing old IT equipment in the military, so I can tell you for a fact that this speculation is wrong.

            All computers and IT equipment (down to mice and thumb drives) are tracked on a company's property book. When the item comes up for life cycle replacement, it is wiped and turned into the Property Book Office. Everything that was ever on a property book has to be turned in this way, regardless of depreciation. A commander can write off a certain amount, but since it is alwa
        • Best way to sneak small things out of work is to (1) sell it on ebay and then (2) mail it while (3) pocketing the money. (Like that guy on MASH who mailed a jeep piece-by-piece.) Nobody examines packages closely.

          • by mlush (620447) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:15AM (#25232535)

            Best way to sneak small things out of work is to (1) sell it on ebay and then (2) mail it while (3) pocketing the money. (Like that guy on MASH who mailed a jeep piece-by-piece.) Nobody examines packages closely.

            There's the old joke about the guy who takes a wheel barrow of straw out of the yard every day, the security guard knows he's stealing something and searches it every day, but find only straw! Years later they bump into each other and the guard asks now its too late to do anything about it... what were you stealing? and the guy grins and says 'wheelbarrows'.

    • by JustKidding (591117) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:08AM (#25231341)
      Like, a big box of CD-Rs or something. If he had stolen a single CPU, they might as well have claimed that he stole more than 40 million transistors.
    • Actually that is just the lower bounds of the price per item since they say 'Over $20,000', but yeah I see your point.

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        since they say 'Over $20,000'

        Actually they say Almost 20,000 (without the dollar sign). You really shouldn't be drinking this early in the morning :)

    • by WarwickRyan (780794) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:16AM (#25231393)

      19,700 sheets of paper....

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rnaiguy (1304181)
      Perhaps the stuff is being undervalued by the government/court because it's somewhat aged now (and probably was at he time of theft as well)?

      More interestingly, what the hell was he doing with it all?

      Selling it? Using it? Burning it to stay warm? Trying to rebuild HAL?

      I bet he's just a klepto.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by chortick (979856)
      This reminds me of the old joke... "The Pentagon reports today that a truckload of toilet seats was stolen in transit. The estimated street value is $2 billion..."
  • WTF (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Where do I find these $6 computers this guy is stealing?

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

      by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:27AM (#25231481) Journal
      They ought to leverage his natural skills and abilities by putting this guy in charge of the disposal and recycling of old stuff. If he was taking old equipment with pre-ROHS circuit boards, he probably saved them >$120k in fees.

      I hope he wiped those hard drives of any critical information. I wonder if he was working with those guys from MI6 who sold the camera?
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Craigslist.

  • Per item... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    19,709 pieces of stolen computer equipment [...] amounting to over $120,000

    Wow, that's almost $6.09 per stolen item! Truly, this is comparable to a $700,000,000,000 wall street bailout.

  • by Milyardo (1156377) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:06AM (#25231325)
    What does this have to do with YRO? That is, unless he stole the suff over SSH...
  • by waldonova (769039) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:07AM (#25231329)
    In further news, a source inside the Pentagon reports that 17 pencils have been reported missing over the last three months. "These are critical communication devices, built to mil spec standards. They have the potential to inflict injury to an untrained operator. The Pentagon takes these communications security breaches quite seriously, and we will be looking for further funding to study this National Vulnerability."
    • In further news, a source inside the Pentagon reports that 17 pencils have been reported missing over the last three months. "These are critical communication devices, built to mil spec standards. They have the potential to inflict injury to an untrained operator. The Pentagon takes these communications security breaches quite seriously, and we will be looking for further funding to study this National Vulnerability."

      "And they spent $1.5 million a piece for them, too! Haw-haw!"

      No, actually they did. Cost-plus contract from Haliburton.

      "Oh. That's not funny."

      Not unless you're Dick Cheney.

    • by SimonGhent (57578) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:58AM (#25231739)

      They have the potential to inflict injury to an untrained operator

      You've seen The Dark Knight then.

  • Old stuff? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by owlstead (636356) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:11AM (#25231355)

    It seems to me that he did clear out the archive of old and useless equipment. Think about it: 20K of stuff worth 120K in US dollars? That's an average of 6 dollars per item, and you can rest assured that it won't be the minimum that they are quoting. Also, how can you be missing 20K of equipment? Well, easy, since it was probably collecting dust anyway.

    But stealing is dangerous stuff, because you will upscale as long as you can get away with it. Once you've started it, it's more difficult to stop, since you've already taken the moral hurdle. And at some time someone is going to miss something, either because of bad luck or because the person taking the stuff is moving upwards.

    I've got an old passive AGP Matrox dual head card laying around the office. It would be a perfect fit for one of my older computers. But I won't take it, even though I'm sure it won't be used anymore. That said, the way companies handle old equipment could be considered criminal as well.

    • Simple solution. Ask (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:16AM (#25231401) Journal
      I got a very nice PC here. Did I buy it? No, it was surplus and going unused and gathering dust with old equipment. I had asked for the old equipment, a couple of xeon servers. They said, "sure, take it". I pointed out that this PC was in fact brand new, but it was surplus so if I just shut up about it it saved paperwork.

      The servers were refurbished and donated to a charity as their office servers and the surplus PC has been my desktop for over a year.

      If you never ask, the answer will always be no. On the whole, people are nice, if only you are nice to them. Would you deny someone a piece of old equipment if they asked nicely? Then why should someone deny it to you?

      • by riggah (957124) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:32AM (#25231511)
        If you work in any sort of "corporate" environment asking usually won't work. I've watched companies destroy and throw away merchandise/equipment rather than give it to employees.

        So, sure, asking is the moral and ethical way to do it, but you may just be calling attention to the fact that they haven't thrown any of the old junk that's collecting dust.

        I'm not advocating theft, by the way, just pointing out that many companies would rather trash something than give it to an employee. That being said, my boss just gave me an iMac that they were going to get rid of!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by wisty (1335733)
          Or you can suggest to the PHB to give the old junk away to the employee of the month. Nothing motivates workers like getting first dibs rummaging through the trash!
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by stupid_is (716292)
            if it's working kit with book value, then you then have to work out the tax implications of this "bonus" :-(
          • by TheCarp (96830) *

            Actually, the warehouse guys used to let us do that, at a previous job.

            Of course, I doubt there was any official approval, the back two rows of the warehouse were just "junk" actually, they used to sell it as scrap to someone who bought it in bulk by the pound.

            Overall, I don't think they cared, the shelf space was worth way more than the paltry income they got scrapping what was on it.

            -Steve

        • by viking099 (70446) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:42AM (#25231579)

          It's a bad idea to give away excess merchandise to employees though. It can encourage people to intentionally overbuy products simply because they know it will be given to them when it doesn't sell.

          A better solution is to have someone box it all up and donate it, assuming it's something worth donating.

        • by C_L_Lk (1049846) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @09:09AM (#25231835) Homepage

          My old manager at my last place of employment was just like this "throw it in the dumpster" - surplus was all to go in the dumpster that was designated for hazardous/electronic waste and go to the scrap yard and be chopped up. Hundreds of monitors, CPU's, Cisco routers, hubs and switches, thousands upon thousands of feet of Cat5 cable, you name it.

          However, said manager also told us all "the lid on the dumpster isn't locked and what happens to its contents when I'm gone home is out of my control" *hint hint* - so most of the IT staff, myself included, were pretty careful in stacking things in the dumpster all nice and neat and organized into "waste" and "not waste" - then we'd pick through it after hours for our own take. The next morning we would generally let it slip to the rest of the staff "there's leftover goodies in the dumpster - check it after work tonight".

          I'm sure in the end we saved the company many 10's of thousands of $ in disposal fees as I believe we paid close to $0.50/pound for electronics disposal. ($20 for one CRT monitor)

          • by Fred_A (10934)

            Sounds like the most elegant way to deal with the problem IMO. That way everybody has done his part and valuable stuff doesn't get needlessly trashed.

            In many places legislation makes it fairly complicated to just give away old stuff rather than just dump it.

          • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:01AM (#25232399)

            I've seen two examples of disposal that made perfect sense in their environments yet left me so frustrated that it beggars description.

            Many years ago at a government agency, where taking something out of the dumpster would get you fired and put in jail, we had a cleanout of old equipment. This was years overdue and there was *lots* of stuff. There had been some sort of foulup with our program to sell off or donate excess equipment, so everything was to go into the scrap dumpster. That dumpster was against an outside wall of the multi-story parking garage. So that no one would be tempted to retrieve anything from the dumpsters (Congress would have our heads on a platter if we gave something to an employee, even by routing through the dumpster), orders were given and all equipment was taken to the third story of the parking garage and dropped into the dumpster from there, smashing everything into uselessness. A gigantic, USD$30K line printer, new and still in the box (although it had been bought nearly a decade before) went over the wall. I nearly cried. I had worked with those printers for a long time and truly loved them for all their loud, clackety goodness and for the fact that they were as reliable as gravity. (Actually, that was why this machine was still in the box; it was bought to serve as a "hot spare" but none of the deployed equipment had ever failed.) The only good thing that came out of it was that I (and others) made so much noise over this waste that procedures were changed and good (or even just repairable) equipment is now given good homes with schools and charities. Nowadays, we have almost no scrap; everything is re-used by someone.

            Second example - I had occasion to spend some time at the HQ campus of a major computer manufacturer. They disposed of equipment by putting it on a pallet and dragging it into a hallway. The employees were allowed to take whatever they could carry by themselves. This was a techy crowd, so dead computers got their drives, memory, video cards, etc. pulled. It was like one of those time-lapse shots on the Discovery channel of a swarm of ants disposing of some road kill. Pretty soon, there was just bones. The little left on the pallet was then recycled.

            What was frustrating about that? I didn't work there, so I couldn't have any of the goodies. :-)

          • My workplace "donates" old equipment to the local community college. It goes straight IT department head. He puts it in a large pile outside his room. He's also my teacher. Although by the time my workplace gets rid of it, it is mostly useless to even me (a few weeks ago, I pulled a Mac Classic, a Mac SE, a Mac IIc, a Mac IIe, some laptop with labeled "ARM", another laptop labeled "GRiDCase", and 4 mouseballs from Apple Hockey Pucks [wikipedia.org])

        • So True... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Interfacer (560564) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:17AM (#25232565)

          I am sysadmin in a pharmaceutical company, and the Parent is correct.

          We have 3 DELL 2600 servers with Dual CPU Xeon cpu, SCSI raid5, 4GB RAM ready to make their final trip to the dumpster.
          We cannot use them anymore for plant systems because they are obsolete and out of support.
          They are too big and noisy to use as test systems (as opposed to the 2U 2650s that we are going to keep just for that).

          I would love to have even one of those machines in my basement, but it is not going to happen.
          Corporate policy forbids employees from taking or even buying obsolete equipment.
          In the beginning it was allowed, but someone once abused the system really badly, so now there has to be a documented paper trail for the destruction of all things going the the digital eternity.

          We are going to try and give them away to a charity or school because it hurts to see those perfectly good machines except the disks) destroyed. But if we can't find anyone willing to take them, they will be destroyed. :(

        • by jcgf (688310)

          Just wait until they place it in the trash. Then you can take it and tell them to fuck off when they try to call it theft. This doesn't work if they wreck it first and you should probably be more prudent than saying fuck off, but you get the idea.

      • by HisMother (413313)
        This is a Federal Government Agency we're talking about -- there are strict, unbreakable rules about this kind of thing. No one can give or receive permission to take ownership of surplus -- asking would, at best, get you a hearty belly-laugh.
      • by TheCarp (96830) *

        We had a few machines a couple of years ago that we had to "Dissapear".

        I asked someone about them and he told me "They were supposed to go back to sun in one of those deals where you exchange old equipment for a discount on the new. I called them up, they said that at this point they don't even want them and we can keep them. However, since they were supposed to have been sent back, they arn't in asset management anymore, so we can't even generate an order to have them removed, without first making them exi

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by boyfaceddog (788041)

        Its not that simple, at least not for my company.

        I have seventeen three old PCs, (PIIIs), sixteen (yes, sixteen) old DLT drives, twelve old G4 macs, seven Apple Cinema Displays with the ADC plugs, two server racks, and two firewire CD drives. This is on top of the boxes of old keyboards, mice, power cables, 10gb and 20gb drives, old software, old UPSs and three palettes of miscellaneous broken and stripped hardware. All of it, every last piece, needs to be accounted for by serial number or count, by mysel

      • by owlstead (636356)

        I didn't say all companies work that way. Especially smaller ones will give stuff away frequently. The problem for big companies is that if they started to give away stuff to people, other people will start to complain. An unequal salary is not as visible as giving away equipment to people - people *will* get angry over it.

        Giving it away to charity would be a very good option I guess.

    • I've got an old passive AGP Matrox dual head card laying around the office. It would be a perfect fit for one of my older computers. But I won't take it, even though I'm sure it won't be used anymore

      you could always just ask for it - half my home office has been acquired this way. ( and just about all the old crap collecting dust under the desk too. anyone want a 24 port 10-base-T hub? )

      --
      nuclear weapons provide a means for people to kill Millions of people in one fell swoop.

  • by erlehmann (1045500) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:12AM (#25231367)
    ... I believe you still have my err, uh, stapler.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:13AM (#25231375)

    wants to be free!

  • Wow! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Eg0Death (1282452) *
    And I felt bad when I used a company CD-R!
  • by spyrochaete (707033) <spyrochaete@NOspAm.hyppy.zapto.org> on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:16AM (#25231395) Homepage Journal

    Sentencing is set for December when Papagno could face up to two years in jail for the thefts.

    Seems pretty lenient considering this is a case of grand theft and potentially identity theft since there was information about contractors. It could also be construed, perhaps, as terrorism or treason considering the organization the equipment and data was stolen from.

    Contrast this with penalties for copying music over the internet. Is "Enter Sandman" a more valuable national resource than naval research equipment and data in Washington?

    • Yes, Enter Sandman when played in reverse is an evil terrorist song.

      In "Enter Sandman", Osama Bin Laden is beckoning all Americans subliminally to force them to become Hello Kitty terrorists. This is something that must be investigated thoroughly and at a great deal of expense. The provisions for this are hidden in the recent $700 billion dollar bailout bill that is so long nobody in congress actually read it.

      Truly yours,
      Department of Hello Kitty Homeland Security

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It could also be construed, perhaps, as terrorism

      No, it couldn't.

      • by Spatial (1235392)
        Why, if this isn't an attempt to coerce people using intimidation and violence for political or ideological purposes, I don't know what is!
  • Not unusual (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:20AM (#25231431)
    I have a, eh, 'friend'....that used to work for M******** Aircraft many years ago in Long Beach. He had full area access due to his job, and that part was unusual, but it meant he could come and go as he pleased - his job also meant driving a van full of equipment on a regular basis.

    His method was to first move equipment around inside the plant, waiting to see if anyone noticed. When the stuff went unnoticed for a period of time (say after an audit), he would load up and drive off base to his home, where the van would be unloaded.

    This went on for years and he eventually changed jobs.

    It was almost three years later that investigators came to his new home, hundreds of miles away. When they walked up to his door, they could see the open garage that was stuffed to the ceiling with everything from o'scopes to monitors to cameras...on and on and on.

    In the end, the company got it all back (he kept and took very good care of everything), and only charged him with theft of one almost worthless item, since that was the only piece they felt like parting with long enough to prosecute. They later told him they were shocked to find him with so much stuff...they said their research told them it would take more than a dozen people to pilfer so much equipment.
    • Re:Not unusual (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:33AM (#25231517)
      Nope, not unusual at all. I used to work with a guy who told me in detail several times (unasked) exactly how you could get equipment out of the building (move it over here to the freight area, wait until after hours to take it to the basement, at this time of day the back doors are opened, so you can then pull a car in, etc etc). I had recently been put in charge of an equipment audit and there were several pieces of equipment missing (some of which this guy had previously shown a keen interest in). When I brought the issue up with my boss I was told "Oh no, he would never do something like that." Case closed. No investigation, nothing. I received a slight reprimand for even suggesting something like that might happen. I quit shortly after that.
      • by sukotto (122876)

        Wow, that guy forgot the first rule of Fight Club. err... "Acquisition Club"

        On the other hand: he told the AUDITOR the step-by-step instructions for equipment theft... and he still got away with it? That's some serious mojo. (yes, I know the boss was pointy-haired... but still)

  • ... get job at US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC., steal 19,708 pieces of computer equipment. Walk away a free man.

  • by Grashnak (1003791) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:34AM (#25231533)

    Apparently he didn't get any of those $600 toilet seats or $900 hammers that we used to hear about the military procuring.

  • steeling (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nutsy1 (1373969)
    Steeling from your "boss" is quite a common phenomenon. some say that people who feel neglected or wrongfully treated are the ones that steel the most at their workplace... I don't know if thats true, but it does make sense. Happy people usually don't commit crimes... unless their happiness is chemically provoked :P
  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:43AM (#25231589) Homepage Journal
    ANY military institution that lets goddamn NINETEEN THOUSAND PIECES OF HARDWARE EQUIPMENT to be stolen,

    .... well im speechless .... i cant even find analogies.
    • by afxgrin (208686)

      Hey, he's just starting his own covert cyber defense research lab...that's all.

      He should submit an Ask /. Question, something like "Hey /., I recently obtained a large amount of military computer equipment, and would like to form a team of computer hackers. Send resumes to k.lepto@navy.mil.gov if you're interested in working on this unique, once in a lifetime job opportunity."

    • by afxgrin (208686)

      Hey, he's just starting his own covert cyber defense research lab...that's all.

      He should submit an Ask /. Question, something like "Hey /., I recently obtained a large amount of military computer equipment, and would like to form a team of computer hackers. Send resumes to k.lepto@navy.mil.gov if you're interested in working on this unique, once in a lifetime job opportunity."

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:49AM (#25231639)

    No one is saying that stuff walking away is a good thing, but 19+ thousand items at about $6.00 (est) average per item is typical office flow.

    Listen, workers often bring things "into" work that are not counted, and some bring things back. I wouldn't even call it "quid pro quo," I'd call it humans working as humans do. We all do it, nothing bad mind you, I'll burn a DVD of stuff and bring it to work. I'll use my laptop because the company I may be working doesn't want to buy me one if I don't need it.

    We are not machines, humans become "part" of the organizations to which they belong, and without malice "communal" supplies and things just get used.

    Also, in a large technology environment, there is so much stuff that either gets tossed or walks. Think about keyboards, how many people order a cordless keyboard/mouse for their PCs? Well, what happens to the OEM keyboard/mouse? I'll tell you, it sits in a closet until it gets tossed or walks.

    We setup a big data center a number of years back, we ordered 300 Dell servers, each and every damn one came with a keyboard and a mouse. We had a small mountain of brand-new mice and keyboards we didn't know what to do with. Dell would ship without them, and we couldn't get rid of them. So, we left them in a pile, and about 50% walked away.

    Then there are hard disks, you upgrade a 100G hard disk to a 250G hard disk, 250g to 500g, what do you do with the old ones? They, too, sit in a closet. They have "book" value but no actual usable value. Computers, jeez, you can't get rid of them, but after 18 months they have "book" value but no practical resale value. It costs more in man-power to dispose of a 2 years old computer than it does to buy a new one. So it sits in a corner or a closet until someone asks "will that be missed?" and the response is "its just taking up space, I know nothing."

    Your "human community" will use these things. The books will show a loss, but no real loss has occurred. Bonus! You get to deduct the loss, blame pilfering, and in the end stuff useless to organization stops taking up space and gets used, employees are better off, and there's room in the closets.

    This is actually the best way. If they "gave" it to the employees, it would mean paperwork and taxes. This way, its just "lost" so sad. Everyone knows it, everyone does it, and this article is just a CYA piece.

    • "The theft included everything from PCs and printer toner to hard drives, software and other office equipment amounting to over $120,000 according to court documents and published reports."

      Hard drives are now $6.00? What did he grab? The MFM lying around? The drum over in the corner?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mlwmohawk (801821)

        Hard drives are now $6.00? What did he grab? The MFM lying around? The drum over in the corner?

        The average estimated value of each item was $6.09. OK, what is a hard disk worth?

        I have 200G ATA hard disk, what is it worth? Seriously, what is it worth? It has two values, the "book" value which you use for accounting and things like insurance, and you have the "functional" value. The functional value is nothing, zip, nada. It was upgraded to a 500G gig. I don't need to 200G hard disk, there no point in putting

        • by Ostracus (1354233)

          Since I just got through replacing a 200G with a 1Tb I'll comment. That old drive has a couple uses. One it can be a backup if the new drive goes south and you need to RMA it. The other is putting it in an external box and using it as backup.

          • by mlwmohawk (801821)

            Since I just got through replacing a 200G with a 1Tb I'll comment. That old drive has a couple uses. One it can be a backup if the new drive goes south and you need to RMA it. The other is putting it in an external box and using it as backup.

            (1) As a backup, you need a 5:1 compression ratio for it to actually backup the 1TB drive.

            (2) It can't be used to replace the 1TB once you pass 200G utilization.

            (3) Using it in a USB box as a backup also fails under reasons 1 and 2.

            Yea, I have done the same thing, but t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheCarp (96830) *

          Worst....

          Whats the value of 100 32 gig disks?

          Now whats the value of the shelf space they are sitting on.

          Whats the value of that shelf space over a year? two years? 3 years?

          If you are never going to use the drives or sell them, then they are worthless. Worst, they prevent you from using the space you have, which could store things that are going to be used soon, or NEED to be retained.

          At worst, taking home 10 or even the whole 100 32 gig disks, makes room for the retiring 250 GB disks as they come out of mac

  • Steal $120,000 from a local bank and see how many years in jail you end up with.

    • by mlwmohawk (801821)

      Steal $120,000 from a local bank and see how many years in jail you end up with.

      Hardly the same thing, money is valued as, well, money. Computer gear has an estimated book value. That $120,000 book value is probably a $0.00 institutional value. It is likely stuff that would have never been used again by the organization.

      I don't know the specifics, but in my basement, I have over $50,000 estimated value of equipment. Stuff that I can't sell, don't use, would probably just toss next time I get a dumpster, I h

      • by dimeglio (456244)

        Not sure if depreciation can be taken into account when calculating the value of a theft. If that's the case, by the time they get to court, all that equipment will be almost worthless.

        BTW: I read that the cost of a single TOW missile is around $180,000. This kinda puts things in perspective...

        • by mlwmohawk (801821)

          Not sure if depreciation can be taken into account when calculating the value of a theft. If that's the case, by the time they get to court, all that equipment will be almost worthless.

          I'm self employed, and you calculate depreciation for your taxes, but computer stuff is valueless long before its depreciated value reaches zero.

          That's the big problem You got a ton of junk that carries accounting value, but provides no operational value. Sort of like high-tech tribbles.

    • by TheLink (130905) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:31AM (#25232743) Journal
      If you end up in jail you're doing it wrong.

      What you do is make LOTs of 120k loans even if you know they will never be repaid.

      Then you get a big bonus etc for doing so well. The bonus could be 120K?

      When stuff goes bad, you say "But everyone was doing it too". And everyone else nods their head in agreement.
  • a big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Goldsmith (561202) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @09:29AM (#25232029)

    The next time some physicist is accused of misplacing (or selling) secret data, just remember this. NRL isn't just some lab somewhere, it's a military lab. While I'm sure this guy didn't want to go selling secrets anywhere, taking old hard drives can lose some scientists their jobs very easily.

  • Seems like a lot work for around $6.00 a PC. I figured the Navy would want a smart sysadmin. Imagine carrying off 19,706 items for so little return .... it's almost laughable.
  • News report (Score:3, Informative)

    by NotmyNick (1089709) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @08:12PM (#25240817)
    Here's the actual news report [wtop.com] on this. Don't slap your wife around if you're defraying your disposables costs from work. Apparently, the prosecution did do the "street value" crap on the reporter

    Wife's call leads authorities to huge Navy crime

    October 1, 2008 - 10:36am
    Scott McCabe and Bill Myers
    Examiner Staff Writers

    After Victor Papagno Jr. was arrested on a domestic violence charge in August 2007, his wife, Andrea, told his bosses at the Naval Research Laboratory that she wanted his work stuff out of the house, federal sources said.

    Navy officials didn't know what she was talking about.

    When they showed up at the Papagno's Calvert County home, authorities found a crime scene: 19,709 pieces of stolen computer equipment from the Navy lab - hard drives, CDs, zip drives, floppy disks - worth up to $1.6 million, according to court documents and Navy officials.

    Papagno, 40, the computer administrator for the Navy research lab, had accumulated so much hardware that some of the boxes had to be stored at neighbors' homes, sources close to the investigation told The Examiner.

    Victor Papagno is scheduled to appear today in a federal courtroom in the District to plead guilty to theft of government property. His attorney, Thomas Joseph Kelly Jr., said the plea agreement was "fragile" and he could not comment about the case.

    The NRL, the research lab for the Navy and Marine Corps located on Overlook Avenue in Southwest Washington, conducts scientific research and develops technologies. The lab is credited with the development of radar, the proposal for the first nuclear submarine, and the creation of the satellite system that provided the basis for the Global Positioning System.

    NRL spokesman Dick Thompson said that no secret technological information had been breached in the computer equipment theft.

    A review found that the private information of 14 employees and contractors who worked at the laboratory from 1998 to 2002 had been found on CDs or zip drives, and those people were contacted, Thompson said.

    According to charging documents, from 1997 to 2007, Papagno took the equipment home for his own personal use and for family and friends, court documents said.

    Papagno, who started working for NRL in 1989, resigned on Aug. 20, Thompson said.

    That was three days after his arrest for domestic violence. His wife dropped the charges.

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