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updated: 5/22/2014 7:30 PM

Hundreds of computers, $40,000 stolen from SIU schools

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Southern Illinois University cannot account for hundreds of computers and overlooked the thefts of tens of thousands of dollars in cash, potentially for nearly two years, a state audit shows.

The report by Auditor General William Holland released Thursday shows Southern Illinois University had $33,000 stolen from its Carbondale student health center and $7,000 in cash taken from the Edwardsville education school.

It also shows the two campuses are missing 357 computers valued at $460,000. But university officials say they have since located some machines, putting the total number of missing computers at 207.

A Carbondale campus spokeswoman said the school is working to correct problems in the report.

"We're tracking down everything we can because the biggest question, of course, is what was on those computers," Carbondale campus spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said, referring to potential confidential information. "Clearly, we have a paperwork problem."

A spokeswoman from SIU Edwardsville was not familiar with the audit and couldn't comment on any of the findings. University officials told Holland theft-prevention procedures weren't implemented in some departments.

The $33,000 in cash stolen from the Carbondale student health center was taken at one time and accounts for about half the money processed by the department in a single year, the report shows. The money was stolen as early as August 2011, but the university didn't discover it was missing until May 2013.

The $7,000 in cash stolen at the Edwardsville campus was stolen as early as July 2012, but wasn't discovered by school officials until August 2013. The stolen money accounts for about 85 percent of the total cash processed by the School of Education in a year.

University officials are pursuing criminal charges in the cash thefts and have filed police reports about the computers, some of which are believed to be stolen.

The audit also uncovered multiple breaches of confidential student information at the two campuses -- including the names, grades and Social Security numbers of more than 1,500 Edwardsville students.

Goldsmith said state budget cuts have forced the school to employ a relatively low number of information technology staff, but the school has hired an information security director and several information security employees.

Almost 40 information technology positions at the Carbondale campus are unfilled, according to the report.

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