Police Gear Stolen; Terrorism Link Feared

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Hundreds of badges, uniforms, identification cards, and decals have been stolen from police agencies in five states. The Department of Homeland Security is urging law enforcement units to guard against the theft of equipment that may be used by terrorists, the Washington Times says.

Homeland Security said attempts to acquire the equipment – including police vehicles – “would be consistent with the tactics and techniques of al Qaeda and other extremist groups.” Stressing that it had no specific information that the thefts of police equipment were related to a pending terrorist plot, Homeland Security noted that a “large number of items” had been taken and that terrorist groups “have utilized police or military uniforms to mask their identities and achieve closer access to their targets without arousing suspicion.” Several terrorist attacks in the past, including bombings in Chechnya, the Philippines and Pakistan, were carried out by terrorists disguised as police, carrying badges and identification cards.

The thefts were discovered in a survey of police agencies across the country about missing equipment. The five states reporting thefts were not identified. The department noted that several private companies had reported receiving inquiries about renting official delivery vehicles and that emergency services personnel had received requests for detailed vehicle descriptions. It pointed out that several individuals and private firms were selling high-quality imitations of official identifications and uniforms, which the department said “increases the possibility such items could be used to facilitate future terrorist attacks.” Homeland Security urged the police agencies and private companies to monitor their identification cards, badges, uniforms and vehicles and to report any theft or disappearance immediately.

Link: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030724-113346-3848r.htm

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