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Still No Burglar Alarms Following a Licensing Break-in

September 26, 2001
By: Nicholas Rummell
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Revenue Department director has put her agency on heightened alert after the theft of department equipment that makes state IDs.

On Sunday, burglars broke into a department fee office located in the St. Louis County community of Overland and stole equipment, software and materials used to produce drivers' licenses and IDs.

The alarm system at the office had been removed.

Security measures on fee agent offices that issue Missouri state drivers licenses do not include burglar alarms, according to the Missouri Revenue Department.

Carol Fischer, the department director, said she had no immediate plans to order installation of buglar alarms at the approximateely 70 fee offices located around the state.

"We continue to be concerned of the security of these documents," she said. "But as far as extra precautions that we're taking, we are just asking all our offices...to be particularly observant and scrutinize the documents they receive."

However, Fischer said her office now will encourage the fee offices to have burglar alarms.

Fee offices are privately-owned businesses that contract with the Revenue Department to provide department services -- such as issuing drivers' licenses.

The buglar alarm system in the Overland office was removed, according to owner Kathy Burkett, because of low crime in the area.

Among the materials taken Sunday were a licensing computer, software, a laminating machine and 200 blank licenses with magnetic strips and holographic state seals.

The magnetic strips and holographic seals are the primary visual attribute used for verification.

Fischer said that the level of sophistication would have to be high for an individual with the stolen materials to duplicate a state license.

Overland Police Chief Jim Herron said his officee has given the investigation a high priority and stated that there are several active leads in the burglary, and all the appropriate state and federal agencies were warned of the theft.

Although Herron wouldn't specify which agencies were contacted, Herron noted that fake IDs could be used to purchase airline tickets, among other things.

"They could use drivers licenses to rent vehicles, to purchase airline tickets under phony names, just a whole number of things," said Herron.

FBI officials from the St. Louis County bureau stated that they are not actively investigating the theft, and consider this a "local crime."