Break-in could lead to larger crime

Officials at a Modesto mortgage company are concerned that some client information could be used for identity theft after someone stole computer equipment from the company's office last weekend.

According to Modesto police, a burglar or burglars stole a computer server, modem and wireless router from All-American Mortgage's office at 2801 Coffee Road when the office was closed last weekend.

Company broker Matt Crawford said he believes the stolen equipment contained internal company information, not data from company clients who had applied for or received loans.

Information on such loans, which often includes Social Security and banking account numbers, could be used for identity theft.

"We're still trying to determine what information was on that equipment," Crawford said. "I'm not excluding any possibility for what was taken."

All-American Mortgage opened in 1999 and processes mostly residential loans at offices in Merced,Modesto and Stockton.

Advice for concerned customers

Crawford said the company hopes to determine exactly what data were stolen, if any, by the end of the week and would contact customers if it determined their information was taken.

Customers can contact the firm before then if they're concerned, he added.

Modesto police Sgt. Craig Gundlach said what the burglar may do with the stolen property depends on his or her motivation.

"There could be some value to those things," Gundlach said, adding that if he or she hopes to use the equipment to buy drugs, identity theft is often a way to finance that.

He said concerned All-American customers should check with credit monitoring agencies such as Experian, Equifax and Trans- Union, put a hold on their credit, and monitor their bank accounts for suspicious activity.

The case is under investigation, he said.

Crawford said the stolen property makes business difficult, but not impossible. The police report lists the property as worth thousands of dollars but did not specify an exact amount.

Crawford said the Coffee Road office has a staff of 11.

Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer can be reached at bvandermeer@modbee.com or 578-2331.