back to article Civil servants just can't keep a grip on their BlackBerrys

BlackBerrys have become the most lost or stolen item at the Department of Transport, a minister revealed yesterday, although thieves also seem to have a taste for heating fuel too. Under-Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker produced a shopping list of items "recorded as lost by or stolen from DFT staff, from either on …


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  1. Bunker_Monkey

    CESG and IPhone's

    Well lets just say, it was probably some overpaid interim attempting to blag a replacement on the government!

    Not CESG approved device! So it should not be allowed within the GSI COCO.

    1. MacRat
      Jobs Halo


      Good way to get rid of the junk to get an iPhone.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Not an iPhone

        You can't have it both ways. Either they have reasonably secure devices and keep your data safe, or they have iPhones which are (as far as I know) not able to acquire a formal accreditation for government use because they can't lock them down properly.

        I'm glad they use Blackberries - that's at least one decent standard they implemented.

  2. Mike123456

    Remote Wipe?

    Only good if the SIM's still in the handset....

    Every berry nicked whilst I was BES admin failed a remote wipe because the SIM was whipped out, and put in mobile phones. You cannot remote wipe a phone without a network connection....

    OTOH, the users were too scared to tell their boss, and it cost us £2.5k in roaming charges that month...

    1. Steven Knox


      In order to remove the SIM, they have to remove the battery. If you have password security configured correctly, the phone will ask for the password upon restart. If they guess that wrong too many times, the phone wipes itself.

      1. Mike123456

        Yes, but.

        You miss my point.

        A good security policy is obviously set by default, and I am more than aware of the 10 incorrect passwords wipes the device, that is be beyond question.

        My point is that once the battery is reinserted, without a SIM, how do you wipe it?

        1. Steven Knox
          Paris Hilton


          The point of wiping is to keep the data out of the wrong hands, yes?

          If your passwords are reasonable, the data will be effectively inaccessible to others.

          Once the battery is reinserted, without a SIM, the device won't allow access without the proper password. If they try and get it wrong, the device will be wiped. If they don't try, they still don't get the data.

          Aside from the very small chance of them guessing the correct password within 10 tries, where's the problem?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just idiocy

    What a bunch of wankers. You know why these itmes are "lost/stolen"?

    Because they do not belong to the employee, and they don not take any care for it. Notice how these people do not lose their own equipment.

    The employee should pay for the replacement. More care would be taken then.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Only problem with that

      If you are mugged and someone steals your company's laptop, why should you have to pay for it?

      I agree that people take less care with them because they aren't their possessions; maybe the solution is that if you lose your company-issued Blackberry, the replacement should be a £10 massive heap of junk, for them to cart around.

      1. Ashley Stevens

        Left on trains

        But mostly they are probably just left on trains.

    2. Chad H.

      @ obviously

      Obviously you didn't read this bit: ...includes both Department owned assets and staff personal property".

      This still seems a smaller loss rate than the general population.

    3. Paw Bokenfohr

      @ Obviously!

      No, the solution to the problem that you believe is there is to get better employees.

      That way, your decent employees (the vast majority) aren't unfairly punished if they make a genuine mistake or are robbed, and your bad employees (the ones you assert don't take enough care of company kit) are no longer employees. After all, if they don't care enough about company property to bother looking after it, they probably don't care about their job or the company overall so better to get rid of them.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Tough stuff!

    "the Department takes firm action to investigate thefts and seeks to recover losses. Instances of theft are reported to the police whenever appropriate"

    Basically all jump up and down in a circle wearing funny hats, while not doing anything in the end.

    It'd be better if they implemented 'firm action' against the base of the problem, theft in the department. On the other hand though, as it's just another guvmuppet facility, all it'll end up being is a printed paper stating "Please don't steal. Thanks", while probably wasting £millions getting that far

  5. Chad H.
    Dead Vulture

    Mountains from anthills.

    Cost of blackberry 9300 - 179.99 (O2 PAYG)

    Cost of insurance - 7.50 (O2 pay monthly)

    Annual insurance 12 x 7.50 - 90.

    Implied probability of losing a blackberry - 50%.

    Unless El reg is telling us there are only 20 blackberries in the DFT then this appears to be article appears to be completely worthless - let's just build some hype about everyone's favourite boogeyman, the civil service and imply that some tiny statistic is a huge issue.

    Even if half of the money made in insurance is profit, then this amount of loss is nothing.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We solved the problem at work..

    .. By insisting employees replaced any hardware they misplaced, or that had visible signs of breakage. In answer to the above, a mugging would of course would be mitigating (tho we did have a "my car got broken into while I was out shopping" once, tho he didn't get away with it cos it's in the handbook that laptops must not be left unattended in cars. I'd accept a house burgulary tho as a mitigating circumstance)

    In the 12 months before we instigated this policy we'd lost or had broken over 40 blackberries, and 7 laptops. In 2 years since we've not lost any.

    My cynical nature tells me people dont give two hoots about other peoples property, but are a lot more careful when it comes out of their pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hayek said it all years ago

      There are three types of money: my money, our money and your money. Which one do you think I take most care of?

  7. lglethal Silver badge

    Im seriously interested...

    Who steals a "a gas boiler flue"? I mean honestly how desperate for cash can you be to steal that? And how could nobody notice someone walking out of the building carrying a great big chimney??? (Ok if it was workmen or contractors on the site, who were carrying it out then i probably wouldnt pay attention either, but still).

    And the heating oil? Who steals 250L of heating oil?

    I am forever bewildered by the choices of some kleptomaniacs...

    1. Chad H.

      You're presuming

      Such things are stolen, not merely misplaced.

      1. Steven Knox

        No Presumption

        From the article:

        "More worrying, perhaps, were the _thefts_ of a watch, a high visibility suit, 250 litres of heating oil and a gas boiler flue."

  8. John Styles

    A1 plotter paper

    Many years ago, I went down to see a colleague over the weekend and as he was working on site I took him a couple of rolls of HP A1 plotter paper for the plotter they had on the client's site.

    Some toerag broke into my car, presumably, thinking 'Oh, a box saying HP, that's bound to be worth nicking'. I imagine they were disappointed with their haul.

  9. Ashley Stevens

    When appropriate?!

    "the Department takes firm action to investigate thefts and seeks to recover losses. Instances of theft are reported to the police whenever appropriate".

    So when are instances of theft inappropriate for being reported to the police then?

    I can't think of any. Except when the instances of theft are already known not to be instances of theft, but in that case, they are not actually instances of theft!

  10. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    MacBooks please

    Dear Government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

    Macs have been long known to improve productivity and reward those whose work often goes unrewarded (with the exception of the regular knighthoods and honours) in the thankless job that is that of Her Majesty's Civil Service. As a consequence, I, I mean, they deserve fully specced MacBook Airs.

    I look forward to sitting next to them on the Tube on the way home.

    Yours faithfully

    A. Fanboi

    p.s. I just want the Mac. i'll be more than happy to scrub the HDs of everything. Would you ask mandate all civil servants to leave the restore disks with the macbooks please? It will save me having to look for them on eBay.

    1. Chad H.


      We'll just have to give all those macs a MobileMe subscription, then we'll have a nice photo of you to give the recovery team.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Probably the UK "Black Ops" space program

    Well if the watch, high visibility suit, 250 litres of heating oil and gas boiler flue were all stolen together then I suspect the latest UK "Black Ops" space program.

    The watch to do the countdown, the Hi Vis suit for Health and Safety, the heating oil for propellant and the boiler flue as a launch tube. Of course if the boiler flue was a large enough diameter, it could be that it was a manned flight and the Hi Vis suit was a space suit for an unfortunate astronaut.

    Yes mother, I'll go and take my tablets now.

  12. Mark Dowling

    ageing platform

    Whatevs. At least I can push apps to my 130 users without Steve Jobs' say-so.

    Chicks dig BBM too by the way, or so my missus says.

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