Mexico’s interior ministry has issued an alert across seven states following the theft of a radioactive device.

The item in question is a nuclear densometer which is used in geotechnical engineering to measure density. It contains radioactive material and there are fears such material could be used to make a “dirty bomb.”

The theft of the device took place in the city of León in the state of Guanajuata on Thursday morning. It was stolen from a vehicle belonging to an engineering firm. The National Coordination of Civil Protection warned that the material in the device is highly dangerous if removed from its container.

As well as Guanajuato, the ministry issued warnings in Querétaro, Jalisco, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, and Zacatecas. It released a photograph showing what the device looks like.

Thieves have successfully got their hands on radioactive material several times in Mexico in recent years.

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