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Stolen notes now worthless notes?

Boy, if it weren’t for thieves, we wouldn’t get any updates at all on the new $100 Federal Reserve Notes.

Here we are going on two years after the original February 2011 release date and we get news that some of the new $100s were stolen en route by air from Dallas to Philadelphia. Presumably the theft occurred on the ground at one of the two airports involved.

Each of the new bills have numerous anti-counterfeiting devices to protect the integrity of the U.S. paper money supply, but obviously old-fashioned theft is still something that cannot be completely eliminated.

According to news reports, the FBI won’t say how many of the new notes were stolen. That probably means a lot.

The notes were part of a shipment to the Federal Reserve warehouse in East Rutherford, N.J. That facility is really something to see. They move paper money around on skids.

The theft was discovered at the warehouse Thursday afternoon, perhaps because the shipment weighed less than it was supposed to.

As clever as the thieves might have been in taking the new notes, they will find they cannot spend them because they are not yet in general use. The new design won’t be introduced until 2013, so now the thieves have a storage problem. It is likely that the notes will be traceable by their serial numbers, so banks around the world can be alerted to watch for them.

If that indeed proves to be the case, it won’t be just gold bugs talking about worthless U.S. paper money.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."