Dangerous plutonium stolen from rental car in a hotel parking lot

(credit: Alex Proimos / Flickr)

article published Monday by the Center for Public Integrity.

The loss of the highly radioactive material occurred in March 2017 and was discovered when the two workers awoke the next morning to find the window of their Ford Expedition had been smashed. Missing were radiation detectors and small samples of plutonium and cesium used to calibrate them. The workers were transporting the equipment and materials during an assignment to retrieve dangerous nuclear materials from a nonprofit research lab in San Antonio when the theft occurred. The vehicle had been parked in the lot of a Marriott hotel in a San Antonio neighborhood where car break-ins are common.

More than a year later, state and federal officials still don’t know where the substances are. No public announcement of the March 21 incident was ever made by either the San Antonio Police Department or by the FBI, which police consulted. Officials have declined to say how much plutonium and cesium were taken. A spokeswoman with the Idaho lab told reporters Patrick Malone and R. Jeffrey Smith that the amount of plutonium taken wasn’t enough to create a so-called dirty bomb and that there’s little or no danger from either sources being in the public domain.

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