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The truck has been found by authorities

A couple of carjackers from Mexico are almost certain to win a Darwin Award for their latest (and final) crime.
A white Volkswagen truck was transporting a highly radioactive material -- cobalt-60 -- from a public hospital in the border town of Tijuana to a storage facility in central Mexico. A man and his assistant, both of whom worked for a licensed private company, drove the truck. 
The drivers arrived at their destination hours before the storage facility opened, so they waited at a gas station in the state of Hidalgo. However, two carjackers beat the drivers and stole their truck, completely oblivious to what was in the back of the vehicle. 
Mexican authorities immediately started looking across six states for the stolen vehicle while Mexico's nuclear safety group (known as CNSNS) issued a public alert. If the cobalt-60 was removed from its casing, which consisted of a wooden box that has steel edging, it could be very dangerous.
After a two-day hunt, the truck was found in a rural area near the town of Hueypoxtla, which is about 25 miles from where the vehicle was stolen. The carjackers were not with the truck, but they did manage to open the box of cobalt-60 before they left.

While the carjackers haven't been arrested yet, Mexico's nuclear safety commission believes that they are dead, or will soon be dead due to the exposure to radiation. 

“I believe, definitely, that the thieves did not know what they had; they were interested in the crane, in the vehicle,” said Mardonio Jimenez, a physicist and official with Mexico’s nuclear safety commission. "The people who handled it will have severe problems with radiation. They will, without a doubt, die.”

It was reported that radiation was detected a half-mile away from where the truck was found. The report also noted that no one lives in that area. 

Cobalt-60 is most often used in hospital radiotherapy machines.

Source: NPR

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common practice?
By AntiM on 12/5/2013 12:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
Is it common practice to transport highly dangerous nuclear material without any type of security in place. Wouldn't there have been warnings plastered all over the wooden box? A WOODEN BOX??? There's something fishy about this story. I wonder if this sort of thing could happen in the US.

RE: common practice?
By Ammohunt on 12/5/2013 1:37:30 PM , Rating: 3
I was wondering that myself anyone would recognize the international symbol for radiation if not on the side of the truck(for security reasons) at least inside on the container; just seems odd.

RE: common practice?
By marvdmartian on 12/5/2013 1:58:08 PM , Rating: 2
1. This happened in Mexico. Think about it. Mexico. Are they known for doing things in the safest manner? Do they follow the rules we're used to, living elsewhere?? Mexico.

2. Material like this is normally stored in a case that uses depleted uranium (U-238) as shielding, since it's much more dense than lead (so makes much better shielding), and even though it's radioactive itself, it blocks more radiation than it emits. Chances are, this was then stored inside a wooden crate.

If you really want to get a good scare, look into some of the stories of Iridium 192 radiography sources being mishandled in the 3rd world. Scary stuff!!

RE: common practice?
By M'n'M on 12/5/2013 9:04:44 PM , Rating: 3
The C60 was used in a medical instrument that obviously could contain the radiation and allow some to escape (when "un-capped") to treat patients. This medical instrument was placed in a box and shipped in a plain white van. So ...

- what's more secure, hiding the materials "in plain sight" using a van like many others that come and go ... or having an armed escort vehicle ? The latter would certainly prevent the common van-jacking that this was but may prove ineffective vs a dedicated, well armed terror group.

- apparently these thieves haven't seen enough TV and so didn't recognize the warning signs. Not only did they open the shipping crate but the medical instrument itself. And dumped, likely handled the naked C60 itself. That's deadly within minutes. Too bad, so sad.

- it's Mexico.

RE: common practice?
By jRaskell on 12/6/2013 9:06:52 AM , Rating: 2
It's a common misconception that armed escorts HAVE to be obvious targets.

Not true. Any reasonably competent security company will be more than capable of providing concealed armed escorts which would be very difficult for even experienced criminals to identify.

Apparently the problem here is that too many people actually watch too much TV. What you see in movies and TV shows is NOT real. Hollywood's convoy of identical blacked out SUVs is very uncommon, if ever used in the real world at all.

Coordinated security can easily remain just out of sight via radio comms, but mere seconds from providing support when needed, and they won't all be driving identical vehicles of any kind.

Too bad, so sad.

Not too bad at all and not sad in the least. We're talking about hijackers here. They got exactly what they deserved. So long as no innocents were exposed in the process, it's a totally happy ending as far as I'm concerned.

RE: common practice?
By tamalero on 12/6/2013 10:46:02 AM , Rating: 2
Mexican here.

Armed escorts are constantly being targeted as "high value" targets by narcs.

They constantly ambush military and federal police convoys.. specially in states like Guerrero.

RE: common practice?
By homebredcorgi on 12/6/2013 2:20:12 AM , Rating: 2
It's in a containment vessel inside the wooden box.

I heard on the radio that they use unmarked vans since marked vans would be a potential terrorist target and generally cause public unrest since people flip out the second you mention anything is radioactive.

They also said using armed escorts or armored cars make them a bigger target for thieves that think there is something valuable inside.

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