UK

BBC staff lose laptops and mobiles worth £240k

Phone and laptop
Image caption The BBC managed to recover 19 of the missing items

BBC laptops and mobiles worth £241,019 were lost or stolen over the past two years, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The corporation's staff reported the loss of 146 laptops, 65 mobile phones and 17 Blackberry devices between April 2008 and March this year.

Computer security firm Absolute Software, who put in the request, said staff needed to be more careful.

A BBC spokeswoman said the corporation took any thefts very seriously.

The FOI response, which included figures for commercial subsidiaries including BBC Worldwide, said the missing laptops had been valued at £219,000, the mobile phones at £12,913 and the Blackberrys at £9,106.

Careful

However 19 items worth £23,450 were later recovered, leaving a final bill of £217,569.

One BBC worker was investigated over the theft of a laptop but the company was unable to confirm if any staff had been disciplined over the losses.

Dave Everitt from Absolute Software said: "It is shocking that any organisation could lose so much equipment, but the BBC is just one of many we've seen recently, proving it's all too common.

"In this case, however, this technology is paid for by the licence payer and employees should be far more careful about how they handle it."

Last month a survey by Lewis Communications revealed that 11 government departments had reported the loss of 518 laptops, 131 Blackberrys or iPhones, 104 mobiles and 932 electronic storage devices worth worth an estimated £781,453 during the same period.

The worst offender was the Ministry of Defence which had more items go missing than the BBC in that time.

Altogether MoD staff reported the loss or theft of £620,193 worth of devices - including 593 CDs, DVDs and floppy disks, 340 laptops, 215 USB memory sticks and 13 mobile phones.

The BBC said mobile devices were "appropriately protected" and, if necessary, "data security breach procedures" were put in place as soon as a report about missing equipment was made.

Prosecutions

A BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC takes theft very seriously and has implemented a number of measures to reduce the level of crime.

"The portability of laptops and phones means that in any large organisation there is an inevitable risk of theft."

She added: "The BBC investigation service is involved whenever an allegation of theft is made, and where appropriate the police are informed and prosecutions brought where we can."

She said the corporation promoted crime prevention but the company was a " large public organisation with thousands of visitors every week."

Mr Everitt told the Press Association he questioned whether the laptops were "appropriately protected" because of the number of devices that were not recovered.

He said: "The BBC would do well to ensure they are using the technology that's already installed in most laptops to track such stolen devices as well as smart phones and recover them, or at least render them impossible, for others to use."

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