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Stanford offers program to prevent thefts of computers, equipment

STANFORD -- A 3-year-old Stanford University program to increase awareness of computer security and prevent thefts has been highly effective, with computer theft losses falling from more than $200,000 in 1990 to $61,119 in 1992.

However, more departments evidently need to take advantage of the Stanford Office Protection Project, STOPP, because there have already been 20 computer thefts this year, with a total of $54,662 in losses.

Almost all the stolen equipment was unsecured or poorly secured, according to the Special Services Unit of the Department of Public Safety.

STOPP was designed by the Stanford Department of Public Safety, along with the departments of Procurement and Risk Management, to promote implementation of security systems to protect office equipment.

"STOPP has been successful in that we've seen a distinct decrease in the number of computer thefts since we've gotten more computers secured," said police Sgt. Del Bandy.

The program offers an incentive to participants - it will replace, without charge, any piece of Stanford-owned equipment stolen from any department, provided that certain basic security requirements are met.

Currently, insurance provided by Risk Management carries a $1,000 deductible. And, for every instance of theft, a department's deductible can be raised by $1,000.

To qualify for the program, departments must:

  • Have all equipment engraved boldly with the designation, "Property of Stanford University" along with the department name. Engraving equipment can be borrowed from the Department of Public Safety. A refundable $15 cash deposit is required.
  • Engrave serial numbers on the body of the equipment. Numbers written on removable labels do not qualify.
  • Install one of several approved security systems. (A flier describing security system options is available from Special Services at 723-0806.)
  • Keep an official and up-to-date inventory of serial numbers and descriptions of equipment covered by STOPP.
  • Notify the Department of Public Safety for approval of security measures and official qualification of each piece of protected equipment. An inspection will be scheduled.

After qualification, stickers reading, "Warning: Operation I.D. in effect" will be provided for points of entry and placement on equipment. Offices are encouraged to educate their employees with an "Office Security" video, brochures and posters provided by Public Safety.

If a theft occurs, the department must file a police report within two days, and contact Risk Management to obtain approval for equipment replacement. The police report will confirm whether the stolen items were secured or not; thefts with no evidence that security devices were defeated without a key do not qualify under STOPP. Finally, if the department is in good standing with STOPP, then the Department of Risk Management can replace the stolen equipment without charge to the department.

For more information, call the Special Services Unit at 723-0806.


This story was written by Elizabeth Bacon, a news writing intern with the Stanford News Service.


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