MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- After obtaining more than 20 Department of Defense car decals while serving border liaison duty, station Provost Marshal's Office Marines warn service members of the dangers of selling or trading their vehicles without removing the decals.
The decals are given to active duty military and DoD civilians for daily access to military installations and are used to distinguish an automobile that is authorized entrance onto the installation.
"We assume that if a vehicle has a decal, the occupants are allowed on base," said Master Sgt. Richard Cerka, PMO operation's chief. "If service members allow the decals to fall into the wrong hands, we can no longer make that assumption."
According to Gunnery Sgt. Donald Summers, PMO platoon commander, it is the service members' and DoD civilians' responsibility to ensure the decals don't get traded or sold with vehicles.
"When Marines get the decals on their vehicles, they sign paperwork stating that they must return the decals before they sell or trade their vehicles. It is one of those things that we all know, but we forget," said Summers. "When they don't, they are risking station security. They can be charged with disobedience of a written order."
Not only can the owner of the decal be charged, but the unauthorized person gaining access to the station is also at risk.
"The person using the decal, which they gained through sale or theft, can be charged with fraudulent use or federal trespassing," said Summers.
According to Summers, a series of anonymous tips have been called in to alert him when a dealership in the area has sold a vehicle with a DOD decal on it.
"Sometimes former military personnel call, or any one can call in when they see a car or motorcycle being sold with a decal on it," said Summers. "I just received a call from someone telling me that they saw a motorcycle with a decal on it. When I called the dealership they confirmed it. When we ran the decal through our system we found out the Marine is overseas."
Border Patrol is also working with the station to ensure the decals aren't being used by unauthorized personnel.
"They call us to get information when they see people that don't look like military personnel driving to Mexico. From there we get our decals back," said Summers.
Many Marines are going to sell or trade their vehicles when acquiring a new vehicle.
PMO hopes by getting the word out now, they can avert any possible threat to the station and its inhabitants. Personnel authorized to have the decals must ensure they are disposed of properly before selling or trading their car.
"It is really important for everyone out here to work together to get this accomplished," said Cerka. "Marines have to think of the decals as their vehicle's military (identification) card."` You wouldn't sell or trade that along with your wallet.