10/30/2012 03:37 EDT | Updated 12/30/2012 05:12 EST

Lengthy list of pilfered federal property includes military weapons

OTTAWA - The federal government lost $1.9 million last year in pilfered property, including vehicles, laptops, smart phones, cameras, furniture and even several dozen military weapons.

Another $8.6 million worth of government property — including almost 2,700 more weapons — was lost, damaged or destroyed accidentally.

The lengthy list of lost, stolen, damaged or misplaced articles is contained in the federal public accounts for the fiscal year 2011-12, released Tuesday.

Computer equipment and BlackBerrys were the items most commonly reported stolen or lost across all government departments, raising questions about the security of the information they contained.

But the most eyebrow-raising property losses were cited by National Defence, which reported the theft of 56 weapons and accessories, plus 491 items of unidentified "military-specific equipment."

The department also reported the theft of almost 8,000 pieces of non-military specific equipment, 35 pieces of technical equipment and six items of telecommunication equipment, among other things.

National Defence further reported another 2,673 weapons and 3,804 items of military-specific equipment were lost, damaged or destroyed accidentally.

"The security and protection of military assets is a priority for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces," the department said in a statement.

"In cases where theft or loss of public property occurs, due to an offence or other illegal act, an investigation is conducted by the chain of command and any necessary disciplinary or remedial actions are carried out to fix the problem."

A briefing note prepared last year for the commander of the Canadian Army warned the branch was having trouble keeping track of weapons and surveillance and targeting equipment, including night vision gear.

The Sept. 7, 2011 note to Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin, obtained under the Access to Information Act, warned there were "significant discrepancies" between the army's records and the overall Canadian Forces supply system, and that the master lists "do match the known amount of equipment procured."

Part of the problem was blamed on the number of overseas missions, including the Afghan war, which weren't allowing army supply enough time to complete their paperwork.

The partially-censored note made no mention of theft, but recommended Devlin order a 100 per cent verification of the army's stock.

The public accounts show the government expects to recover almost none of the federal property lost due to theft or other illegal activity and less than 15 per cent of the property lost or damaged accidentally.

Among the property losses caused by illegal activity:

— The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported 31 cases of vandalism of government vehicles.

— The Correctional Service of Canada reported 12 cases of damage due to intentional fires, 357 cases of damage due to inmate disturbances and five cases of stolen canteen inventories.

— Public Works reported the theft of an outdoor ash tray, an outdoor fire alarm bell and sunglasses from its surplus Crown asset inventory.

Among the property losses caused accidentally:

— Foreign Affairs reported the loss of $3,794 worth of "alcohol products."

— Industry Canada reported the loss of 20 BlackBerrys, 11 cameras, 105 laptop or desktop computers, five DVD players, 17 projectors, 12 servers and printers and six video cameras.

— The Senate reported 10 instances of lost broadcasting and audio-visual equipment and the loss of seven office workstations.