HARRISBURG - Lax security led to the theft of materials used to produce Pennsylvania driver's licenses and ID cards, putting people at risk of fraud and identity theft, the state auditor general said yesterday.

Contractors hired since 2000 to produce licenses and ID cards for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation weren't properly trained and monitored, Auditor General Jack Wagner said. As a result, hundreds of blank cards and laminate overlays were stolen or unaccounted for, he said.

Wagner said PennDOT has taken effective steps to address the problem.

"In all frankness, we have a far greater comfort level now, in 2007, than going back several years ago," he said.

From 2003 to 2005, 1,500 blank cards and a roll of 100 holographic overlays were reported stolen, the auditor's report said. In addition, PennDOT spokeswoman Danielle Klinger said that there has been no evidence the stolen or missing material has been used to make bogus licenses or IDs.

In December 2006, about a year after the audit period concluded, thieves broke into a driver's-license center in Wilkes-Barre and stole enough equipment to make hundreds of fraudulent licenses. That prompted PennDot to review the security at all 97 licensing centers and revise its procedures.

A second report released by Wagner yesterday concluded that PennDOT had failed to verify the qualifications of the people hired to inspect bridge and road construction. Wagner said he was satisfied that PennDOT had fixed that problem, too. *