Saturday, March 27, 2010

Water system computer removed and destroyed -- Molalla, OR

Police are looking for burglars who broke into the city's water-treatment plant and stole the system's computer.



City Administrator John Atkins said theft of the computer is a federal crime and has been reported to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He said the computer, later found destroyed, contained all the programming that kept the water-treatment plant working on autopilot.

Water quality is unaffected, Atkins said. The only difference is the plant is running in manual-control mode and must be monitored in-person.

"We have no water-quality problems at all," Atkins said. "And frankly, we can shut off the plant at night because we keep our reservoirs topped off. We have enough water stored that we'd be good for days."

Atkins said he hired a security consultant to "harden" both the water-treatment plant and the sewage-treatment plant against future break-in attempts.

"Additional security measures are now in place to prevent another such intrusion," Atkins said

On Saturday, an assistant plant operator was on standby duty when an intruder alarm alerted him to the break-in. When he arrived at the plant, he found the plant's front door open and the computer gone.

City staff members immediately began searching Internet sites such as Craigslist and eBay to see whether anyone had put the computer up for sale.

The next day, however, the computer and monitor were discovered in the backwash pond at the plant site. The computer and monitor are destroyed. Atkins estimated cash value loss at "less than $1,000."

Computer experts are trying to recover the programming from the hard drive, Atkins said.

Police said the burglar gained access to the plant by driving around a fenced and gated area through an adjacent tree farm.

http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2010/03/burglars_steal_destroy_molalla.html

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