AF computer thief caught via Internet tip

AF computer thief caught via Internet tip

By Dawn S. Onley

GCN Staff

JULY 26—A senior airman who eluded Air Force authorities for 17 months was arrested this week in Luxembourg on charges that he stole more than $110,000 in computer equipment from the service and later sold most of it on the Internet.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Spangdahlem Air Force Base, Germany, had been looking for Douglas Saferite Jr. since March 2000 when he disappeared while awaiting court-martial, according to Maj. Mike Richmond, an OSI public affairs officer. At the time, Saferite faced charges of stealing computer processors, two notebook computers and network components from the 52nd Communications Squadron at Spangdahlem.

Many of the items were sold on the Internet, authorities said. It is unclear if any were recovered and whether any classified information was stored on them.

Saferite was arrested July 23 at his wife's home in Garnich, Luxembourg, Richmond said. The OSI office received a tip from an anonymous caller who had talked to one of Saferite's relatives in an Internet chat room. The relative apparently confirmed that the airman was living in Garnich.

OSI Special Agent Lynn Stedge, who led the investigation, said he was struck by the irony that an Internet tip ultimately ended Saferite's life on the run.

'He got caught stealing computers, and then computers ended up' fingering him, Stedge said in an OSI release.

Saferite was court-martialed in absentia and sentenced to six years of confinement with a dishonorable discharge, a reduction in grade and a fine of $14,565.

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