Photo/IllutrationA used hard disk that contained data compiled by Kanagawa prefectural government officials (Provided by Kanagawa prefectural government)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The Metropolitan Police Department late on Dec. 6 arrested a man who has admitted to auctioning off pilfered hard disks containing massive amounts of personal data including employee rosters and design blueprints compiled by the Kanagawa prefectural government.

Police arrested Yuichi Takahashi, 50, on suspicion of theft for removing 12 hard disks from a facility in Tokyo's Ota Ward operated by Broadlink Co., a company that, among other things, recycles information equipment and wipes data from used hard disks.

Broadlink fired Takahashi on Dec. 6 after submitting a criminal complaint to police about the theft of the hard disks.

According to Tokyo police, Takahashi is believed to have taken the 12 hard disks at around 6:40 a.m. on Dec. 3. He has also admitted to police that he took 18 hard disks once used by the Kanagawa prefectural government and posted them on an Internet auction site. Nine of the hard disks have been returned to the Kanagawa prefectural government, but the whereabouts of the other nine are unknown.

Takahashi reportedly told police he began stealing used hard disks from Broadlink facilities from about March 2016 in order to sell them.

According to Broadlink officials, hard disks waiting to have their data wiped are kept in a special storage room within the company's technical center in Ota Ward. Employees entering the room have to pass through ID and fingerprint recognition systems. Bags and other personal belongings are banned from the site.

After learning about hard disks being offered on Internet auction sites, Broadlink officials began an internal investigation and found the 12 hard disks among Takahashi's belongings on Dec. 3.

A company official on Dec. 7 again apologized for not only the arrest of a former employee, but also for the trouble caused by the leaking of huge volumes of government data due to lax security measures on the company's part.