I ran across an interesting article at HSToday.us about the latest incident of the use of a ‘cloned’ vehicle on the US southern boarder. In this case a privately owned vehicle was marked (including stolen plates) as a US Marine Corp van was used to successfully smuggle people across the border. Fortunately Border Patrol agents became suspicious of the vehicle and stopped it at a checkpoint on I-8.
Cloned vehicles are apparently relatively common tools used by smugglers and point out a common security problem. Too many people relax their vigilance when they see a vehicle that they assume represents a common visitor to a site. This can result in that vehicle receiving less than adequate security screening.
While it would not be expected that terrorists would use a cloned USMC vehicle to attack a high-risk chemical facility (most chemical facilities would not expect to see a USMC vehicle) this incident just goes to show how common this technique is. Security managers want to pay attention to how their security forces treat vehicles from common delivery services. If they only get a cursory review upon entry or exit then there is the potential that terrorists could use them as a method of infiltrating or exfiltrating the facility security perimeter.