In 1671, a soldier dressed as a priest attempted to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. In 1963, masked men including Ronnie Biggs ambushed a train in bucolic Buckinghamshire to steal 120 mail bags containing used notes -- the scam became known as the Great Train Robbery. In 1983, 6800 gold bars went missing from a lock-up in Heathrow in what became known as the Brinks Mat robbery, and in the same year, the great racehorse Shergar went missing. In 2001, a police sting caught villains red-handed (as they say in tabloids) in an attempt to steal £200m worth of diamonds from the Millennium Dome.

Some target these luminous bounties for pecuniary gain while others take on the challenge “because it’s there”, as the mountaineer George Mallory said when asked why he wanted to climb Everest. Either way you look at it, the unveiling of the UK ID cards today will pique the appetite of miscreants everywhere.

Ever since computers were used for crime, the bad guys have had an edge over the good guys and that advantage continues to this day. Data breaches are everywhere, whether caused by internal process problems, accidents, in-house malcontents, those wanting to prove a point or common-or-garden criminals. A great many other scams go unreported.

The ID card system, tied as it is to the National Identity Register, will be an immensely attractive lure for all of the above types. Chief security officers the world over will wish the government well – and be glad they won’t take the flak when the proverbial hits the fan.
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