SPECIAL REPORT: Authorities continue hunt for missing tank trailer

| 4/23/2004

Federal, state and local authorities continued their nationwide search April 21 for a Fruehauf fuel-oil tank trailer that disappeared from a South Jersey truck terminal last week.

Authorities say the situation is potentially serious because terrorists can turn such tanks into bombs, similar to ones used in bombings in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

A case in point: On April 21, security forces in Saudi Arabia defused two truck bombs outside of Riyadh, the nation’s capital.

FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi said authorities had received no threats or direct reports relating to the missing tank trailer, but stressed that the disappearance remained a cause for concern.

"We don't know what the motive was behind the theft," Vizi said, according to news reports, but added, "We're doing everything we can to find it.

"We don't want the public to be scared," she said, noting that the tank trailer may simply have been stolen for parts, but emphasized that officials are seeking the public's help in tracing the equipment.

Vizi said the local FBI office had contacted agency headquarters in Washington, DC, to put out a nationwide alert to determine whether the disappearance was part of a broader pattern.

"It could be anywhere," Vizi said. "It could be in California by now."

TK Transport in the Philadelphia suburb of Pennsauken, NJ, told Land Line that most national news stories had their facts on the missing equipment "all wrong." The company said the missing tank was not a truck, as many media outlets reported, and had no power unit.

TK described the missing equipment as a light-colored aluminum trailer (T-118) marked left and right sides with the name "TK Transport" in large green letters. It's a four-compartment tank with air-ride suspension. Its serial number is 1H4T04320GK014902. At the time it was stolen, it had a New Jersey license plate, T852SC, and New Jersey motor or fuel tag 15148.

Vizi said the vehicle disappeared from the parking lot at the TK Transport Terminal in Pennsauken between April 7 and 10.

Pennsauken Police Capt. Earl Griffin said it was a few days before workers at the facility realized it was gone. He said the tank trailer, which had recently been refurbished, was empty at the time of the disappearance.

Vizi said this particular trailer did not have a valid federal inspection sticker, which would prevent it from being filled at any legitimate supply depot. Authorities noted that the same company has other trucks on the road but urged anyone with information to call their local 9-1-1 emergency dispatcher, the State Police, the FBI, the New Jersey Office of Counterterrorism or TK Transport's office at (856) 661-0600.

--by the Land Line staff