As break-ins go, this one has the whiff of political dirty tricks.
Someone or a group of people broke into the Independence, Mo. Victory Office of the Missouri Republican Party last week and apparently made off with a laptop belonging to regional coordinator Brian Johnson.
The laptop had "a great deal of strategic information" for that part of the state, Tina Hervey, director of communications for the party, told InternetNews.com.
The Victory Office is one of 10 opened by the Missouri Republican Party across the state August 13 to serve as command centers for staff and volunteers, who will work on behalf of Presidential candidate John McCain and the Missouri Republican ticket.
More than 20 other computers in the room were left untouched, Hervey said, adding that the stolen laptop was protected with a password.
The McCain-Palin campaign did not respond to requests for a comment by press time.
Missouri figures largely in the race for the White House. It has 11 seats up for grabs, and is leaning toward voting for McCain, according to some pollsters. But Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama narrowly won his party's primary against Sen. Hillary Clinton.
According to Hervey, the thief got in by breaking the plate-glass front of the offices, then took only the laptop and put another of the other laptops in its place in a bid to avoid calling notice to what was taken. That was not well thought out, as "the Dell laptop that was stolen was black, and they put a smaller, white laptop in its place."
Protecting your data
Hervey said the campaign staff had backed up the data on the laptop and has taken steps to ensure that whoever took the computer will not be able to access the party's network.
They reported the theft to the Independence, Mo. police but the Missouri Republican Party has not approached the FBI or other law enforcement organizations, Hervey added. "We don't have any proof that it's anything more than a break-in."
Still, it's a break-in raising some questions about what might happen next.