The hard drives contains information about 1,000s of tax pays/residences in the borough, hence the concern. The issue was only noticed by a buyer from eBay who reported that he had this information.
While the council will state that they could not have predicted a trust employee would steal old hard drives, and sell them on ebay, they could have predicted that at some point hard drives will be lost, stolen, or recycled, and therefore protecting the data is important.
To protect against this form of data theft or data loss is easy, simply and often free – encryption.
This sort of case came about because the council were told about the issue, by a good Samaritan. This again raises the question of, we know data thefts that are reported but what about the ones that are not reported?