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MoD reveals list of more than 150 stolen items – from decommissioned machine gun to a tumble dryer

Automatic weapons and assault ladders were among more than a hundred items stolen

Tom Watling
Monday 15 January 2024 11:37 GMT

A decommissioned machine gun, night-vision scopes and lightbulb are among more than 150 items that have been stolen from the Ministry of Defence in the past year, it has been revealed.

Other items listed as stolen included TVs, Xbox controllers, assault ladders, items of uniform, a replica scale-model siege gun, a rifle, two laptops, an iPad, medals and an MoD identity card.

The details were published by Dr Andrew Murrison, the under-secretary of state at the MoD, in response to a parliamentary written question submitted by Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney, who described the findings as "astonishing".

There were also some more bizarre items taken, including several bicycles, gym equipment, a tumble dryer and “silver pheasant ornaments”.

The number of suspected thefts between December 2022 and December 2023 totalled 213. At least 153 pieces of service equipment were reported stolen, as well as 34 other defence assets. There were also 10 reported thefts of IT equipment, eight of cash, six of fuel and two of metal.

British defence minister Andrew Murrison (REUTERS)

Mr Murrison, who declined to reveal the full list of missing items “so as not to compromise live ongoing investigations”, said the MoD was “not immune” to theft. The MoD said that some of the items may be recovered or later recorded as lost instead.

“The MoD works hard to detect and deter theft and there are robust processes in place to raise awareness of the need for vigilance in all aspects of security,” Mr Murrison said.

“Just as theft occurs in wider society, the MoD is not immune, and we actively encourage individuals to report any evidence of loss or suspicion of theft. It is important to note that in some cases of reported theft the property is later recovered.”

Nonetheless, Ms Olney said the government had a duty to keep the public safe and suggested the stolen equipment, which included a handful of firearms, could be used to put the lives of the British public in danger.

She also called for the minister to launch an inquiry into what went wrong and the potential risks posed by the thefts.

“The government has a duty to keep people safe, yet this revelation from the MoD should be ringing alarm bells for our national and personal security,” she said.

In previous years, the MoD has revealed that items have been stolen from multiple RAF bases in the UK, as well as an Army Foundation College. Outposts abroad, including in the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, have also been affected.

An MoD spokesperson said: “We take the security of defence assets extremely seriously and have robust policies and procedures to prevent losses and thefts. If any assets are reported lost or missing due to suspected criminal activity, we take the necessary steps to investigate, prosecute and recover the items.”

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