Police identify suspect in theft of hospital laptops with patients' data

Christopher Lee Brown, a.k.a. Allen Marcous

Courtesy of Alhambra Police Department

Alhambra Police have identified Christopher Lee Brown as a suspect in the theft of hospital laptops containing data on approximately 729,000 patients, including names, insurance information, diagnoses and payment records.

Alhambra police have identified Christopher Lee Brown as a suspect in the Oct. 12 theft of two laptops from an AHMC Healthcare Alhambra office. The laptops contain medical information on approximately 729,000 patients at its six hospitals: Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, Monterey Park Hospital, Greater El Monte Community Hospital in South El Monte, Whittier Hospital Medical Center, San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and Anaheim Regional Medical Center. 

Police identified Brown from surveillance video; he is known to employees at the office where the burglary took place, said Sgt. Jerry Johnson of the Alhambra Police Department. Brown used to visit his ex-girlfriend when she worked there, said Johnson. 

Lee is also known by the alias Allen Marcous. Johnson described him as 6 feet 3 inches tall, about 220 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He's homeless, which complicates the search for him, Johnson said.

"It’s not as easy as just putting a police detective down the street from his house, waiting for him to pull up," said Johnson. "So it’s just a matter of trying to figure out where he’s at."

Police said that it's unknown what the intentions were in taking the computers, but that they are treating the crime seriously.

“It’s unclear if [a thief] even knows what he’s got other than a couple of laptop computers," said Sgt. Johnson. "It’s unclear if he’s even been able to open up and look at the data that’s on the computer, but there is a lot of medical records and medical information that is on the two computers." The computers are password protected. 

The laptops contain names, insurance information, diagnoses and payment records. AHMC said the computers have the social security numbers for about 10 percent of the 729,000 patients. 

AHMC said it immediately reported the theft to Alhambra police when it discovered the laptops missing on Oct. 14. One week later, AHMC notified news organizations about the theft, and it posted notices to its patients on its hospitals' websites Tuesday morning. 

Under the California Civil Code, businesses must notify affected individuals when private information about them is stolen. In a case involving more than 500,000 people, a business can choose to notify its clients  — in addition to alerting the media and posting the news on its website — by emailing those individuals for whom it has e-mail addresses.

AHMC spokesman Gary Hopkins said the company is following the civil code "to the letter," although he did not confirm whether it has sent emails to its clients. 

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