The item in question is a nuclear densometer which is used in geotechnical engineering to measure density. It contains radioactive material and there are fears such material could be used to make a “dirty bomb.”
The theft of the device took place in the city of León in the state of Guanajuata on Thursday morning. It was stolen from a vehicle belonging to an engineering firm. The National Coordination of Civil Protection warned that the material in the device is highly dangerous if removed from its container.
As well as Guanajuata, the ministry issued warnings in Querétaro, Jalisco, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, and Zacatecas. The National coordinator of Civil Protection, Luis Felipe Puente, tweeted a picture showing what the device looks like.
— Luis Felipe Puente (@LUISFELIPE_P) February 9, 2018
Thieves have successfully got their hands on radioactive material several times in Mexico in recent years.
In April last year, a nine-state alert was issued following the theft of industrial radiography equipment which was filled with Iridium-192, a radioactive element that can cause burns, acute radiation sickness, and death. Similar heists also took place in April 2015 and July 2014.