Page last updated at 07:18 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 08:18 UK

Man bailed over passports theft

Shops in Oldham
The newsagent where thieves targeted the security van

A man arrested over the theft of 3,000 blank passports and visas worth about 2.5m from a security van in Greater Manchester has been bailed.

Boxes of blank passports were stolen when a Citroen van was robbed in Chadderton, Oldham, after stopping at a newsagent on Monday morning.

The 48-year-old arrested on Thursday is understood to be the delivery man who accompanied the driver on his journey.

The man, from Oldham, has been bailed until 5 November pending inquiries.

Earlier this week officers described how the delivery man was allegedly attacked by an unknown offender who drove the vehicle a short distance before escaping.

Foreign embassies

Police said the white Citroen van was carrying 24 brown cardboard boxes, although not all of the boxes in the van were taken.

The stolen passports were destined for embassies abroad and were being taken from 3M Security Printing & Systems in Chadderton to RAF Northolt.

The delivery, in the non-armoured van, was being carried out by a private company on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Police, who estimated the black market value of the passports at 2.5m, said they were "very secure" because they contained a microchip which could be encrypted.

And the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) insisted the embedded chip security features rendered the passports "unusable".

Greater Manchester Police are continuing to appeal for witnesses to the robbery, which happened just before 0640 BST on Monday.

Man held over theft of passports
31 Jul 08 |  Manchester

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