In the area of supply chain related theft, we often hear of cargo related or warehouse theft but a story last week out of Silicon Valley California places a more concerning dimension to theft.

California authorities last week cracked a case which involved an armed robbery of a semiconductor production plant that amounted to upwards of 1.7 million flash memory chips valued at $37 million. Thirteen to fifteen masked thieves were involved in this incident that targeted the Unigen Corp. production plant in Fremont California on February 27th.  The culprits held-up five Unigen employees at gunpoint, and moved them to a back room, while the stolen material was loaded onto a large truck. The stolen parts included flash-memory chips widely used for storing information in smartphones, digital players and cameras. It seems fairly obvious that the thieves knew what they were looking for and where to find them.

Thus far, five of the suspected thieves have been arrested.  Authorities also indicate that 98 percent of the 1.7 million in stolen parts have been recovered, with the remainder suspected of being shipped to China A report published in the Wall Street Journal noted that investigators back-tracked through specific gray-market dealers to recover the stolen property.

Two thoughts come to mind regarding this incident.  The first is that thieves had the intelligence and brazenness to actually beak-in to a production facility, and already have a quick method of gray market distribution of the stolen chips.  Second, that some across the Web are actually taking sympathy to the thieves in favor of more lenient charges is somewhat mind boggling.

When we all take a step back to reflect that inside and privileged information, competitive secrets and stolen parts seem to be all openly traded, we have to wonder about the current state of the secure supply chain.