A MILITARY laptop containing the personal details of hundreds of reserve force (RDF) members has been stolen.
Gardai have launched a major investigation after the theft, the Herald can reveal.
Thieves broke into the Dublin-based home of a senior officer and stole the laptop along with a number of private possessions earlier this week.
The Herald has learned that the laptop contained personal details of potentially hundreds of members of the 65th Battalion, Reserve Defence Forces.
Sources told the Herald that the theft has caused "major alarm" among members of the force with fears that thieves could use the information to their advantage.
Officers have been frantically checking with their banks and local revenue offices after being told of the theft.
Sources say there are fears the information could be used to carry out large-scale identity theft.
Military intelligence officers were today trying to establish whether the laptop contained financial details such as bank account numbers.
The Herald can reveal that the officer from whom the laptop was stolen was not authorised to have the personal details of reserves on the laptop.
He will now be subject to an investigation and may face disciplinary action.
It is the second high-profile theft in the space of a week after thieves raided the home of Justice Minister Alan Shatter on Sunday night.
The Defence Forces today confirmed that the laptop had been stolen, adding that an extensive investigation involving intelligence officers and the gardai is taking place.
While it said the 70 reserves in the 65th battalion were affected, the Herald understands that previous members may also have had their personal details seized.
A spokesperson said the laptop "allegedly" contained personal details such names, ranks, military service numbers, gender and dates of birth.
The 65th battalion is served by part-time reserves -- the majority of whom are based in Dublin.
Defence officers were yesterday contacting those affected and urged them to take all precautions necessary.