Missing SFO Clear Laptop Was Stolen, Not Misplaced
A laptop containing the personal information of 33,000 applicants to a program that allows air travelers to bypass airport security lines was likely stolen then returned, not just misplaced for more than a week, investigators said Monday.
The Transportation Security Administration announced a week ago that it had suspended new enrollments to the program, known as Clear, after the unencrypted computer went missing from a locked office at San Francisco International Airport.
The TSA also told officials at SFO and other airports that used Clear to cease use of any unencrypted computers and secure devices until encryption can be installed.
The day after TSA's announcement, the laptop reappeared in a locked cabinet in the same office where it was last seen.
Verified Identity Pass Inc., which runs the Clear program, said at the time the company did not know whether its computer was actually stolen or had just been overlooked.
Investigators are now treating the disappearance as a theft and are interviewing Verified Identity Pass employees to figure out who took the laptop and why, said San Mateo County Sheriff's Sgt. Wes Matsuura.
It was "highly doubtful" that a random member of the public swiped the computer and then returned it to the locked office, which is not in a visible location at the airport, Matsuura said.