Radioactive material from a truck was stolen in Mexico on Monday, reports Reuters via Yahoo! News on Wednesday. The truck was carrying what officials dubbed "extremely dangerous" radioactive material used in medical treatments.
The truck was transporting cobalt-60 from a hospital in the northern city of Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage facility. The radioactive isotope could be used as an ingredient for a so-called “dirty bomb,” causing Mexican officials to launch an intense search for its recovery.
The truck was hijacked Monday when the driver stopped at a gas station in the town of Temascalapa, near Mexico City, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.
The U.N. nuclear agency said it had been informed by Mexican authorities of the theft, but said they do not believe the materials or the truck were headed for the U.S. border. Furthermore, Mexican officials think that “common thieves” absconded with the medical truck, unaware of what it was even carrying.
"Our suspicion is that they had no idea what they had stolen. This is a area where robberies are common," said Fernando Hidalgo, spokesman for the Hidalgo state prosecutor.
Nevertheless, Mexican authorities have issued a statement to alert the public, the IAEA said. Residents are asked to look for a white Volkswagen Worker with license plate 726-DT-8.
"At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged," the IAEA said.
U.S. law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security officials are aware of the theft and working closely with Mexican authorities, a U.S. official briefed on the situation told ABC News.
Border officials armed with radiation detection devices have been alerted, per the ABC news brief.