Student arrested for identity theft, burglary

Shelly Le

Early Thursday morning, Oct. 27, the Walla Walla Police Department arrested a Whitman College student for supposedly creating false Whitman identification cards to gain access to areas with restricted swipe access.

Senior Simon Van Neste is currently being held in the Walla Walla county jail under allegations of second-degree identity theft and second-degree burglary.

According to a press release from the Walla Walla Police Department, campus security was alerted to a problem last week when an automated alert message was received indicating an unauthorized card-swipe of a staff member’s ID card for attempted access to a secure area on campus.

Van Neste was later found with a homemade ID card composed of another student’s ID number and his picture. Later investigation that day revealed two additional IDs hidden in Reid Campus center.

Van Neste also turned over a magnetic stripe-card encoder and 13 stripe cards to campus security. According to police, Van Neste reported that he had used the ID cards of students, faculty and staff to gain access to secured areas around campus.

Van Neste also gained access to a staff member’s Whitman login password, giving him access to all student information the staff member was able to access.

President George Bridges sent out an email to students Thursday afternoon regarding the arrest.

“At this point, the investigations have found no evidence that the student obtained access to confidential or private information retained by other campus community members or to critical and confidential data retained by the College. We believe that most aspects of the network and the information it contains remain very secure,” he said.

The investigation is now being handled by Walla Walla’s Police Computer Forensics Investigator who will be processing numerous hard drives for further evidence.