MASTIC BEACH - The village of Mastic Beach says 488 residents may have had their personal information stolen in a data breach by a former employee pretending to be the chief of police.

Mayor Maura Spery says an 18-month audit discovered a former village employee illegally accessed highly personal information from a law enforcement database.

"The level of access provided was greater than any typical police department would have reserved for Homeland Security and things of that nature," says Village Attorney David Eldridge.

The village says victims included residents, village employees and Village Board members. It says the ex-employee used computers at Village Hall to initiate the searches. Mastic Beach officials are sending warning letters to the people who had their backgrounds searched.

The village says the Suffolk district attorney and New York attorney general are aware of the breach. They also say identity theft protection is being prepared for those affected.