Scottish military bases record over 100 thefts

Military installations across Scotland have recorded more than 100 thefts in the past five years, according to documents released under Freedom of ­Information legislation.

The thefts included, prawns, panels from a Nimrod, broadswords, a machete and a washing machine. Picture: AFP/Getty

Items stolen include aircraft parts from RAF bases, weapons from army barracks and equipment from nuclear ­submarines.

The Ministry of Defence said it was “not immune” from theft and has urged “vigilance”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

On 28 March HMS Ambush – one of the Royal Navy’s newest and most advanced nuclear submarines – was targeted by thieves. A pulse oximeter, which measures blood oxygen saturation, was taken from onboard the sub. Another nuclear submarine – HMS Churchill, awaiting disposal at Rosyth – lost 56 PVC covered lead blocks used for diving practice in January 2012.

The figures also reveal the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious had clothing stolen in May last year.

Weapons and ammunition have also been taken from ­installations across Scotland as part of a total of 105 thefts.

In June 2009 four live magazines were taken from Faslane, and in September that year two blank magazines and two live magazines for SA80 assault rifles, a smoke grenade and a “jungle-issue machete” were stolen from Dreghorn Barracks, Edinburgh.

And in May 2011 four broadswords – weapons more suitable to William Wallace than a ­modern army – were stolen from Fort George army base near Inverness.

Ministry of Defence insiders said they would “fully safeguard security” at nuclear facilities but admitted large volumes of “attractive, high-value items” were stocked at bases across Scotland. As a result, it is “unlikely” they can eliminate theft altogether.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “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.

“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 or theft.”

SNP MP and defence spokesman Angus Robertson said the catalogue of thefts was “scary”. He said: “Safety and security should be paramount at all military installations. This particular list of thefts is pretty scary.

“To have articles stolen from Faslane Naval Base and aircraft parts from an RAF base could create real dangers and are worrying to say the least.”

There have also been a series of bizarre thefts from bases. In January 2009 a thief made off with 25 kilograms of bacon, 15kg of prawns and 12 bags of ­sausages from RM Condor ­marine station in Arbroath.

And in September of the same year a washing machine and tumble dryer were stolen from Fort George army barracks. Thieves made off with two panels for a ­Nimrod aircraft from RAF ­Kinloss in Moray in 2010.

The MoD said the figures represent cases in which investigators have established that the items were stolen. In just nine of the 108 incidents in the past five years were items recovered. It is unknown how many thefts were by military personnel and how many were by civilians.