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Birth Certificates Stolen in Texas

AP-NY-05-03-01 1155EDT

AUSTIN (AP) -- More than 3,300 blank birth certificates were apparently stolen from a locked safe at the Texas Department of Health.

U.S. embassies, immigration officials and driver's license offices were warned to watch out for the certificates, which were stolen in late January and can be identified by their serial numbers.

The forms could be used to set up false identities or establish citizenship for illegal immigrants. So far, none has turned up.

The forms were discovered missing in January, but state lawmakers said they didn't know about it until this week.

''I'm assuming it's because the Legislature is here and appropriations was starting and no one wanted to look bad,'' said Patricia Gray, chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee.

Department spokesman Doug McBride said the department was not trying to hide the theft and has since bolstered security.

''It's always a tough call about what to inform the 181 legislators about,'' he told the Austin American-Statesman.

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