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Police Probe Theft of Mercedes-Benz Customers' Data

Authorities are concerned about identity theft after Feb. 8 break-in at Walnut Creek dealership.

Walnut Creek police are investigating the threat to people's identity posed by a Feb. 7-8 break-in in which locked files of customers' private information were stolen from the Mercedes-Benz of Walnut Creek dealership.

More than 2,000 customers are vulnerable for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and driver license numbers contained in the files, said a woman who asked to be identified as Allison B., who lives in Orinda. She had received a voicemail from Mercedes explaining the problem from the theft at the dealership at 1301 Parkside Dr. in Walnut Creek.

"Any time you give up your SSN, businesses have the responsibility to protect you," said Allison B. "It's out of your control. You have to trust whatever company you're giving it to."

Allison B. has leased a Mercedes from the dealership. She said people affected include those who bought or leased a car, or used one of the courtesy vehicles the dealership provides during extended service.

"They have already learned of customers' identity being fraudulently used for new credit card applications," said Allison B.

Sonic Automotive, which owns Mercedes-Benz of Walnut Creek, has offered the affected customers a credit monitoring service, KTVU TV reported Thursday night.

A Walnut Creek PD detective specializing in identity theft is probing the incident, said a woman who asked to be identified as Allison B.

In the Feb. 7-8 incident, the thieves stole locked cabinets after prying open an outside door and another door in the business office, KTVU reported.

The Walnut Creek PD bulletin
for Feb. 8 reports: "Theft of customers information from locked area on site. (Occurred) sometime last night. (Disposition): Burglary to locked offices. Occurred between 2200 hrs on 2/7/13 and 0500 hrs. on 2/8/13. Loss: Sales files."

srl99 February 22, 2013 at 02:44 PM
This is not identity theft, this is identity gift. Banks and credit issuers calculated it's more profitable to casually open credit accounts and deal with the percentage of losses from impotent identity verification. This needs to be addressed by credit legislation.
DJR February 22, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Letters were sent out on 2/18; a week AFTER the break in and compromised information. A friend of mine received a letter, yet I haven't. Who is responsible?
Wrally Dutkiewicz February 22, 2013 at 09:33 PM
It is a growing trend that SMBs are becoming favorite targets of criminals to steal personal identity information. This is a very preventable business risk that all business owners should be aware of and take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk. Wrally Dutkiewicz MBA CFE www.fastpeppersolutions.com
Charo February 22, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Are we able to take legal action on this matter?
Chuck D. February 24, 2013 at 05:03 PM
I received notice on 2/24/13 nearly 2 and one-half weeks after the "theft." We received a phone call from Sonic but after listening 5 times by several listeners, none of us were able to decipher the content. I am supposed to believe they care about my situation?? Ha Ha! This is outrageous because I have called all referenced number in Sonic's letter and I have gotten no where. I think legal action is appropriate if Sonic Automotive did not exercise due diligence in protecting our information. They are victims as are we, but their actions after the event leave me cold. They are less than helpful to date and the Walnut Creek P.D. says "don't leave a message." Incidentally, the free annual credit monitoring service that Sonic offers is a free benefit from Experian even if you are not a targeted victim. Chuck D.
srl99 February 25, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Contact all THREE credit bureaus and put a freeze on your credit file. There is no charge for this "service".
JOE February 26, 2013 at 04:54 AM
I was contacted 2 weeks later REALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The dealership was no help and clueless who ever they transferred me to that was suppose to answer my questions.We must of called there at least 8 times still no help.
Anne Mobley February 26, 2013 at 06:02 AM
I wonder if they had Stead files there too since they were the former MBZ dealer at that location. No one contacted us either.
Sheri April 13, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Just found my federal tax form was rejected because someone used my SSN, most likely as a result of this break-in. It's going to take 6+ months to resolve, meanwhile I wonder if someone's getting arrested and posing as me or renting apartments. Disturbing is lack of care by SMBZ by apparently not having alarms when three locked doors/cabinets were broken into. I'm guessing this was done by someone intimately familiar with their operations in being able to turn off any security systems or knowing there were none to begin with. This is costing me time and money. I'm also curious about legal action for negligence or similar.

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