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Laptop stolen from regional GOP headquarters

A laptop with strategic campaign information is missing after a break-in at a regional office in Missouri last week.

First Gov. Sarah Palin's e-mail account was hacked, and now a laptop with strategic information to help the Republican ticket in a critical swing state has been stolen.

A Dell laptop belonging to the Republican party's regional coordinator in Independence, Mo., was stolen on the night of September 30 out of the party's "Kansas City Victory Office." The Independence-based office supports Republican party operations at all levels, from the presidential ticket down to candidates for regional state representative seats.

The laptop contained "information you'd expect the coordinator for a GOP national campaign to have," such as information on areas to target for support, said Tina Hervey, communications director for the Missouri Republican party. Hervey could not say whether the information on the computer, issued by the Missouri Republican party, was encrypted or not.

Tom Gentry, the public information officer for the Independence police department, said a digital recorder and a satchel were also reported missing. Police arrived at the campaign office, which is located in a strip mall, just before 6 a.m. on October 1. A window had been broken, and a desk drawer had been ransacked, Gentry said. However, 22 Eee PCs were left behind in the office.

"One of the tiny, white computers was actually removed from the table where it was sitting and placed on the desk where the Dell was," Hervey said. "Somebody clearly had some time and was able to move things around."

Both Hervey and Gentry said the incident did not appear to be a random break-in.

"There are several businesses in that little mall, and there are other businesses that have more valuable things in them," Gentry said. "This is a predominantly Democratic county, and there are a lot of hot-heads on both sides, as usual."

He said that over the weekend a string of thefts of political signs--both Republican and Democratic--were reported in the area as well.

The break-in, incidentally, took place the night before Sen. John McCain spoke in Independence and Michelle Obama made an appearance in Kansas City, Mo. With 11 electoral votes up for grabs, Missouri is a critical swing state in the presidential race.

Gentry said there are no leads in the case, but the police will be inspecting video surveillance tapes from adjacent stores. Hervey said the party is taking extra precautions to prevent any further break-ins.

"As of today across the state there's a noticeable security presence upgrade at all of our offices," she said.