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Thieves swipe thousands of laptops from Special Ops contractor in Hillsborough

On March 6, as many as seven people broke into iGov Technologies at 9211 Palm River Road and stole 3,000 laptops and other electronics, according to a search warrant.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

On March 6, as many as seven people broke into iGov Technologies at 9211 Palm River Road and stole 3,000 laptops and other electronics, according to a search warrant.

TAMPA — The thieves hit on a weekend when no one was around.

The target: a military contractor for the super secret Special Operations Command, the elite commandos who help coordinate the war on terror.

The intruders entered through the roof, gaining access to iGov Technologies, which occupies suite 110 in the beige corporate center at 9211 Palm River Road.

For the next nine hours, they loaded up more than 3,000 laptop computers and other equipment into two waiting semitrailer trucks .

Those details came to light only recently, when a Hillsborough County sheriff's detective filed a search warrant in Hillsborough County Circuit Court seeking phone records for one of the suspects.

What was on the laptop computers? Was it a crime of economics or a crime of security? Did the burglary compromise the safety of any troops?

The answers remained a mystery Monday.

A SOCom spokeswoman said officials are aware of the iGov break-in, but she could not immediately provide a response.

Earlier this year, iGov was awarded a $450-million contract by the Department of Defense to supply mobile technology services linking special operations troops all over the world.

The company is headquartered in McLean, Va., with locations in Springfield, Va., and near Tampa. An iGov facility manager referred calls to the corporate office. Officials there did not return a call for comment.

According to the warrant, the operation went down on March 6, a Saturday. A surveillance camera captured images as a red Lincoln Navigator drove up to the business and as many as seven people piled out.

They broke in through the roof and spent nine hours gathering loot, which included about 3,000 Panasonic Toughbook laptops and other electronics.

The Sheriff's Office notified the FBI. Sheriff's Detective David Thatcher obtained a search warrant June 23.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said that she was unaware of the theft and that Thatcher no longer had the case. It was assigned to a second detective who also was transferred, and she did not know which detective was now handling it.

The Sheriff's Office records division was unable to find a report of the break-in on Monday. A clerk did locate a record of when the call was received and which officers responded.

The warrant seeks phone records for the owner for the Lincoln Navigator, a man named Oddit Perez-Reyes, 39.

Perez-Reyes' cell phone was in contact with four phone numbers the day of the heist. Satellite records tracked each of the four phones to the iGov office that day, the warrant stated.

Sprint Communications said the phones were on prepaid accounts and cautioned that subscriber names could be fictitious, the warrant said.

Detectives filed for access to Perez-Reyes' cell phone for records that include contact information, messages, calls and pictures and videos.

As a result of the investigation, the FBI and the Miami-Dade Police Department located a warehouse in Miami that was used to store the stolen property, the warrant stated, and about 1,911 items were recovered.

A spokesman for the Miami-Dade Police Department said Monday he could find no record of property seized at the warehouse within the past four months.

Hillsborough sheriff's records show iGov's facility manager, Mike Kalinowski, reported the missing computers to the Sheriff's Office after he arrived at work March 8.

However, when a Times reporter asked him about the case, Kalinowski responded: "I don't even know anything about that."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at nguyen@sptimes.com

Thieves swipe thousands of laptops from Special Ops contractor in Hillsborough 07/12/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 12, 2010 11:29pm]
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