Although Thailand appears to be a haven for stolen passports based on recent accounts of Italian Luigi Maraldi and Austrian Christian Kozel, a lot of Australians too had lost their passports in 2013.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) disclosed on Monday that 37,720 Australian passports were reported stolen of lost, of which 75 per cent happened in Australia. For the remaining 25 per cent, the incident happened in popular tourist destinations such as Paris, Madrid, Rome, London, Los Angeles and Bangkok.
However, the DFAT said that the number is only 0.3 per cent of the 12 million passports issued by the department. It said the department takes the matter of lost and stolen identity document and initiates measures to prevent its misuse by immediately cancelling and reporting them to Interpol.
To better encourage passport owners to better protect their vital identity document, new laws passed in 2005 imposed fees and penalties for people whose passports are lost or stolen. The DFAT has also added a secure chip that cannot be rewritten or change and a digital copy of the passport photo.
On Monday, due to the suspicion that terrorism could be the reason behind the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysian Air jet linked to the stolen passports, Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble disclosed that few nations are ensuring persons who hold stolen passports could not board planes.
He said that based on electronic itineraries reviewed by an airline-reservations expert, the users of the stolen passports were headed for Amsterdam via Beijing.
Interpol added that the two passports were not screened by immigration employees against the Interpol database of stolen travel documents.
The two mysterious passengers possibly hold the key what really happened to the missing jet. Malaysia is reviewing video recording of the two travelers from their check-in to departure. Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are jointly investigating the two passengers.