The Madison County Animal Shelter has notified five employees their personal information may have been stolen after a break-in occurred last month at the shelter.
At the end of October, the shelter announced a partnership with the Madison County Detention Center to have inmates help out at the animal shelter. Within a day of the partnership’s announcement, an inmate participating in the program escaped from the work detail and broke into the shelter.
According to county officials, the inmate was 45-year-old Fredrick Carl Pierce.
According to a press release from the Madison County Judge Executive’s Office, on Oct. 27, an inmate broke into the shelter and stole property, including a paper binder which included the name, birthdate, address and social security for five shelter employees.
The release regarding the theft was sent out on Nov. 18.
“We are committed to protecting the security of our premises and property as well as personal information about our employees,” said Morgan Elliston, the Human Resources Coordinator at the shelter. “We are investing in additional resources to help enhance our security and are revisiting our practices on the storage of paper records.”
The animal shelter uses the binder to store required records related to DEA authorizations. It includes other information, such as certificates related to euthanasia.
According to a press release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s office in Ohio, Pierce was arrested on Oct. 28 after they received a call from Kentucky State Police regarding Pierce’s escape.
Investigators learned Pierce, who was serving time for a parole violation, had plotted to escape the Madison County Detention center and asked for assistance from a woman in Shelby County.
A press release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office states, in addition to the binder, Pierce also stole uniforms, badges, and a white 2008 Ford Ranger which belonged to the shelter.
Shelby County deputies were alerted to Pierce’s presence in the county after they received reports of a white truck with Madison County Animal Shelter markings was found stuck in a ditch. When deputies arrived to search the area, the vehicle was gone and police said they believed Pierce had traveled westbound.
According to a release, as the investigation continued, police continued to search for Pierce, which resulted in a lockdown of the New Bremen, Ohio school district.
Pierce was later found in the attic of a residence and was captured.
According to a press release, Pierce later told deputies where the Madison County Animal Shelter truck was located. The markings had been removed by a grinder as well as the dog kennel, which was later discovered at another residence.
Police recovered some of the items taken by the inmate and believe that other items, including the binder, were burned and destroyed. However, in an abundance of caution, the shelter is offering free credit monitoring services to affected employees.
A press release states, although the shelter is not aware and does not suspect of any misuse of employees’ personal information, the shelter urged those affected to take appropriate steps to protect their personal information by remaining vigilant to the possibility of fraud and identity theft by reviewing and monitoring their account statements and free credit reports for any unauthorized activity.
The shelter indicated that any unauthorized or suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, including local law enforcement and the state Attorney General. In addition, consistent with its compliance obligations and responsibilities, the animal shelter is providing notice of this incident to the appropriate state regulators.
At the time of the announcement of the partnership between the jail and the shelter, the judge’s office had issued a statement about such issues of inmates escaping during work release.
“While there are always risks when inmates leave the detention center for a work program, the rewards definitely outweigh those risks. Inmates who are part of a work program are non-violent and low-risk to the community. They have made a poor decision at some point in their lives and this program helps them to make better decisions, while putting them in a position to gain skills, improve their situation and hopefully re-enter the workforce in a positive way at the end of their sentence,” the release stated.
Pierce is currently being held in Ohio, but will be transported back to Madison County, a release noted.