Hundreds of 'sensitive' military items stolen at JBLM
January 8th, 2012
The Seattle Times / Amy Martinez
About 100 soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord remained restricted to the base Sunday after hundreds of sensitive items, including night-vision goggles and rifle scopes, were reported stolen from a supply area.
I Corps spokesman Maj. Chris Ophardt described the stolen items as "anything that attaches to a weapon or helps you see at night." The Army does not consider the equipment alone to be a danger to the public.
"You have to have other stuff to make it dangerous, and you have to know how to use it," Ophardt said Sunday. "It's not something the average Joe can attach to their gun and become instant Rambo."
A 100-member infantry company went on lockdown Wednesday, meaning they could not leave their barracks without an escort or communicate by email or phone. As of Sunday, they remained restricted to their barracks and dining areas, but phones were allowed and family could visit, Ophardt said.
The restrictions will remain in place until Army investigators and commanders determine "they have all the information they can get to apprehend the person or people responsible" for the theft, he said.
The company under investigation is from the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
While the Army has not said how much the stolen equipment is worth, a $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to its return.
"You can buy a lot of this type of stuff on the open market, but it's not military-grade," Ophardt said. "This would be the latest and greatest that you can buy."
It's not the first time that Lewis soldiers were prohibited from leaving the base after sensitive equipment went missing. In 2005, about 400 soldiers were on lockdown over the disappearance of a pair of night-vision goggles.
Information from Seattle Times archives was included in this story.