Stolen laptop had death inquiry info

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2012 - 10:58 PM

It belonged to investigator for medical examiner's office.

A laptop with investigative files and crime scene photographs is still missing, weeks after someone stole it from a part-time investigator with the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office.

Navid Amini, who works part time for the medical examiner's office, reported the personal laptop missing Aug. 8 after someone broke into his family's vehicle at Roseville's Central Park.

He told police that the computer was not password-protected and was not equipped with tracking software, according to a Roseville police incident report.

"We've done everything we can to locate the missing laptop, but we've had no success finding it," said Lt. Lorne Rosand of the Roseville police.

Dr. Lindsey Thomas, medical examiner at the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office in Hastings, said Amini did not work on any homicide cases. The office does death investigations for multiple counties.

Thomas said it is unclear what information is on the laptop. Investigators who use their own computers periodically transfer work to a secure system and then delete the files from their personal computers.

She said she is concerned about breaches of data privacy, but not overly alarmed that the information will be misused.

"My feeling is, someone who steals a laptop, probably one of the first things they're going to do is delete everything on it," she said.

As an on-call investigator, Amini went to death scenes -- natural deaths, drug overdoses or accidents, among them -- on behalf of the medical examiner. He did not have autopsy information on the computer.

There was no officewide policy on password-protecting personal computers, but there is now, Thomas said.

"It was just an oversight," she said. "Honestly, it's one of those things that didn't occur to me to say that you had to have it because it didn't occur to me that someone wouldn't."

Amini, along with his wife and child, had stopped at the park to go to the playground, according to the police report.

Someone broke into their Toyota RAV4 during the roughly 20 minutes they were away, stealing the laptop and his wife's purse and cellphone.

Rosand reminded people not to leave anything valuable in the car, even if they are stepping away only for a few minutes.

Katie Humphrey • 952-746-3286

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