Burglar makes off with equipment used to make Missouri drivers licenses

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Burglar makes off with equipment used to make Missouri drivers licenses

By Jo Mannies and Heather Ratcliffe Of the Post-Dispatch 09/25/2001 10:48 PM

A burglar stole equipment able to produce about 200 authentic-looking Missouri drivers licenses from an office in Overland, according to the owner of the business, which operates under state contract.

Kathy Burkett, the owner, said FBI agents joined police in the investigation, in apparent concern that false identifications could be of value to terrorists.

Overland police initially said the loot taken Sunday night included a computer with license-making software, but not the blank cards. Officers said they learned later that blanks were gone too.

An FBI spokesman could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Burkett said that something less than half a box of plastic blanks, with magnetic strips on the back and holographic state seals on the front, was missing. At 500 per box, she estimated that 200 were gone.

Also taken was a camera used to make ID photos, a laminating machine and even a vision testing machine. "They've got the capability to make drivers licenses," Burkett said.

Investigators said the thief got in by smashing the front window of the office, in the 9500 block of Lackland Road, sometime between noon Sunday and 5:30 a.m. Monday.

The loot included several handicap parking permits, boat registration stickers and petty cash, said Overland police Capt. Robert Morrissey.

Burkett said police seemed concerned about the handicap permits, since they could make it easier for a car bomber to park near public buildings. The burglar passed up license plate stickers, which traditionally have been a hot item for thieves.

Burkett said she never had a burglary in 36 years doing business as a drivers license station under contract with the Missouri Department of Revenue. "I feel vulnerable. I feel stupid after the fact," she said.

She told a reporter that a burglar alarm was removed some time ago because there was no crime but a lot of false calls.

Police could easily determine that a license is fake by checking it against the state's database of valid drivers, officials said. But airport screeners, guards at public buildings, banks and credit card companies could be fooled.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 26, 2001

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