Monday, December 14, 2015

Mass Cellphone Buys, Stolen Proprane Tanks in Missouri

From FOX News:
The bulk purchases of more than 200 cellphones from seven Missouri Walmarts over the course of a single weekend continues to draw the attention of law enforcement – particularly combined with the theft of more than 48 propane canisters in the state during the same time frame.

There is no information to suggest the suspicious cellphone purchases and propane thefts are related at this time.

Police in Columbia, Jackson, Cape Girardeau, Lebanon, Ava, Jefferson City and Macon have each said they’ve received reports about large numbers of cellphones bought in area Walmarts. The majority of purchases occurred during the late-night hours of Dec. 4 and the early-morning hours of Dec. 5.

Details in some of the cases are sketchy, but at least three dozen phones were purchased at one time in the Macon, Jefferson City, Lebanon and Jackson stores. A “large number” were purchased in Ava, cops said, and “dozens” were purchased in Columbia, ABC17 reported. Ten of the phones were bought at Cape Girardeau, according to the Kansas City Star.

The individuals involved have been reported to be as few as two men in Lebanon and as many as five in Columbia. It’s unclear if all of the cases involve the same people or if they are linked, but the same man reportedly was part of the purchasing group in Ava and Lebanon, which happened a little more than two hours apart on Dec. 5.

...“Officers spoke with the male subject, who was of Middle Eastern descent, and asked for identification, which was provided.”

...“These people were, they were foreign-speaking,” Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt told KSPR about the men who bought phones at the Lebanon Walmart.

The three purchasers in Jefferson City had “accents,” cops told KRCG, but information on the buyers in other locales is scarce.

Why would the cellphone purchases and propane thefts be concerning?

Terrorists have long used mobile phones to set off explosive ordinances, and propane tanks have been used in improvised bombs. For example, the thwarted car bomb attack in Times Square in 2010 was set to use four propane tanks as part of the explosive device.

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