Wednesday, July 30, 2008

3,000 Blank British Passports Go Missing

"This government is determined to make getting a British passport easier for any foreign national, but this takes it a bit too far" (a comment left on the Daily Mail's on-line story)

The British Foreign Office lost thousands of blank passports yesterday, when a van transporting them to a Royal Air Force base for onward shipment to British embassies abroad was hijacked. Read the Daily Mail's story here.

A few choice quotes from the story:

Thousands of blank passports worth £2.5million on the black market were stolen from a van after the driver stopped to buy a chocolate bar, it emerged last night ... Security experts warned the theft of the 3,000 passports and visas, which were destined for British embassies abroad, had handed a 'real coup' to terrorists, illegal immigrants and fraudsters.

The driver stopped for his chocolate just minutes into the trip to RAF Northolt on Monday morning.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, who has advised Gordon Brown on national security, said the best case scenario was that the documents would be used for identity fraud. But he warned that if they fell into the hands of terrorists and other international criminals, they would yield a host of technological secrets and allow fraudsters to produce their own versions.

A spokesman for 3M Security Printing and Systems, the private firm contracted to transport the passports, said there were no personal details on the stolen documents. 'Both the passports and visa documents contain security features to prevent misuse and the Home Office has taken steps to stop use of the documents,' the spokesman added. The Identity and Passport Service said its hi-tech embedded chip security features made the passports 'unusable'.

I assume that last sentence means the passports are unusable for travel abroad. For identity theft and other domestic frauds, they're probably just fine.

Maybe 3M Security Printing and Systems should tighten up its delivery procedures. Or maybe they should just hire Mr. T to supervise their drivers. Something about the convergence of security, trucks, and chocolate bars makes me want to post this link to Mr. T's now-notorious British TV advert for Snickers.

No comments: