Truck carrying chemical stolen

| 2/11/2003

A truck carrying a chemical that could be used as an ingredient in explosives is missing, ABC News reported over the weekend, but officials don’t think the theft was connected to any terrorist activity.

The tractor-trailer, which was carrying 44,000 pounds of boric acid, was stolen from a commercial district in Riverside County, CA, in the southeast part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, The Associated Press reported. It was headed to the Long Beach Shipyard.

Corona Police Sgt. Jon Stofila told The AP the green, 1996 Freightliner had California license plates on the tractor and Oregon plates on the trailer.

The chemical can be used as an antiseptic, as an eyewash, a coolant – and as an ingredient in explosives.

Land Line reported in December that truck hijackings have risen steadily over the past five years in Southern California. The region is popular to thieves because of the number of ports, interstate highways and warehouses.

The activity is big business nationally as well. Nationwide, cargo thieves will steal an estimated $12 billion to $20 billion in goods this year.

Police say cargo theft is on the rise because more money can be made in stolen cargo, and the penalties are much lighter than in drug crimes. A cargo thief who steals a truckload of computers with $1 million in merchandise inside may face three or four years behind bars, while a drug trafficker caught with $1 million worth of dope could go away for 10 to 20 years.

The majority of cargo thefts are simple jobs where one or two thieves will hijack or steal a truck, sometimes without even knowing what’s inside.