A computer hard drive containing 7500 membership details and donor lists has been stolen from the RSPCA's Yagoona branch in south-western Sydney.
The stolen tower (described by staff as just an old white box used for support and as a database) , which was backed up to a server on a nightly basis, was found missing after a break-in earlier this month. IT branch staff have assured RSPCA members that no sensitive information was left on the drive.
Parts of the shelter are being renovated; however, security around and inside the shelter remains strict.
Fundraising manager Fiona Jessiman said the welfare organization previously had a stand-alone desktop system but IT protocols saved the day. The RSPCA is concerned about ensuring no sensitive information is misplaced and Jessiman said: "Our IT guys guarantee that the information is not on [the box], but we are obliged to tell our members and supporters what has happened.
"We don't want our private supporter files out in the marketplace which, according to our IT department, won't happen," Jessiman said. "Thankfully, we didn't lose any data and all customer information remains safe; and we are not a stand-alone anymore."
As a result of the theft, the RSPCA was forced to mail thousands of letters to members notifying them of the incident and to alleviate any concerns members may have about their personal and financial data, such as credit card information.
Jessiman said the 'opportunistic' thieves broke in, took the hard drive and left without disturbing anything else.
"They made off with one hard drive and it is concerning to think anybody would break into an animal welfare facility," she said.
"It's not like we are IBM or Microsoft; we really do not have top-of-the-range stuff so good luck to them if they can do anything with it."
The theft was reported to Blacktown police.
However, a police spokesperson was unwilling to comment further simply stating that it was a privacy matter and did not confirm whether the stolen goods had been recovered.