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100 soldiers restricted to Washington state base after equipment thefts

This news story was published on January 9, 2012.
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By Amy Martinez, The Seattle Times –

SEATTLE — About 100 soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., were 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 in itself 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 its members could not leave their barracks without an escort, or communicate by email or phone. On Sunday, they remained restricted to their barracks and dining areas, but phones were allowed and family members 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.

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.”

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