Engineer steals source code of US train firm and flees to China

A software engineer who stole proprietary information from a locomotive manufacturer, is now in hiding. 

The engineer, Xudong “William” Yao, was hired by the unnamed manufacturer in 2014, and within two weeks of starting his new role, Yao had downloaded more than 3,000 electronic files “containing proprietary and trade secret information relating to the system that operates the manufacturer’s locomotives,” the indictment states. 

During the next six months, Yao downloaded other electronic files containing technical documents and software source code. At the same time Yao “allegedly simultaneously sought, negotiated, and accepted employment with a business in China that provided automotive telematics service systems”. 

Following his dismissal in February 2015 by the manufacturer, for reasons unrelated to the theft, Yao made copies of the stolen data and travelled to China to begin working for a new employer. 

Yao subsequently travelled to Chicago in November 2015 with stolen trade secret information “including nine complete copies of the suburban Chicago company’s control system source code and the systems specifications that explained how the code worked.” Yao then returned to China. 

Currently Yao is being charged with nine counts of theft of trade secrets. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

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