HSU Police Net Student Suspects in Campus Thefts, Hacking
A 19-year-old HSU freshman is in custody and a second student suspect is being sought for multiple counts of burglarizing Humboldt State University’s Housing offices over a four-week period in April and May.
Armed with an arrest warrant, University Police officers took Justin Marshall Prina into custody near his on-campus residence hall on Friday, June 3, at about 10 p.m. The arrest was made without incident, and Prina was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on alleged burglary, conspiracy, and other charges.
University Police Acting Sergeant Melissa Hansen, heading the investigation, has obtained an arrest warrant for a second suspect, also an HSU student, who is believed to be out of the area for the summer. He is expected to turn himself in, or to be arrested on the warrant, in the near future.
The locked Housing offices contained stored student records containing personal identity information, and University officials have issued an advisory letter to 772 students whose records could potentially have been compromised by the suspects. The letter advises students to take precautionary steps against identity theft, urging them to request a fresh credit report for evidence of unusual activity.
To date, no evidence has been found that the student records were compromised. However, HSU officials recommend maximum caution because they contained personal data.
The burglaries involved five early-morning entries into secure Housing offices where the suspects allegedly breached interior spaces, intruded into work stations, hacked into key-card computer devices, and stole small items. The suspects left little trace of their entries, and the burglaries were initially undetected until a review of security camera recordings on May 13 revealed images of the two suspects committing the crimes.
Working with experts from Housing Information Technology, HSU Information Security, and the District Attorney’s Office, Hansen and UPD investigators reviewed hours of security camera images and gathered other incriminating evidence before presenting the case before a judge and obtaining the arrest warrants on Friday. “The case was airtight”, said University Police Chief Tom Dewey.
In addition to the advisory letter, Mark Hendricks of HSU’s Information Security Office said, “We want to assure all students that we are taking additional steps to decrease the likelihood of this specific type of incident from occurring again.”
All U.S. residents are entitled to a free credit report annually and requests can be submitted at www.annualcreditreport.com. Periodic reports are considered an effective measure against identity theft.
In addition, the California Department of Consumers Affairs’ Office of Privacy Protection Web site at http://www.privacy.ca.gov posts helpful information, explaining how to pinpoint and deal with suspicious activity.
Details about Humboldt State’s Information Security Program are posted at http://www.humboldt.edu/security. The phone number is 707/826-3815.