Hot pink posters in the Downtown Community Clinic warn clients that their personal information may be in the hands of a thief. Clients who have had clinic staff fill out “financial” applications are possible victims, Maureen Whyte of the Downtown Clinic/Vancouver Health Authority announced in the headline of a Aug. 21 memo which was photocopied onto the hot pink sheets.  We are “very troubled” by the theft, wrote Whyte who is the former director of North America’s first supervised injection site for addicts a few blocks from the clinic.

A thief, Whyte wrote, had stolen a piece of “equipment” from the clinic which contained “limited personal client information”. The information was primarily related to “applications for benefits and income tax.” The clinic on Powell Street serves Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside poor and many drug addicts, often providing them with assistance filling out welfare and other government forms which require medical information.

Police believe that the theft was a “crime of opportunity” Whyte wrote, and that the thief was after the equipment but not necessarily the information on it.

I told Serg, who lives on the Downtown Eastside, about this theft of “equipment”. He laughed and concluded, “A computer got stolen! They’re obfuscating.”

Serg has used the Downtown Clinic and believes that the “limited” information Whyte claims was on the equipment stolen would have almost certainly included social insurance numbers, birth dates, and addresses.

Vancouver Police have been working with the media over the past year to sound alarms about the serious problem of identity theft in Vancouver.

To read the rest of this original article, including where the confidential information could have ended up and what security guards may have been doing during the theft, see Downtown Eastside Enquirer

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