More than 100 burners, or untraceable disposable cellphones, that were purchased at a Missouri Walmart have caused ISIS terrorism concerns. The mass purchase of burner phones might be linked to the theft of dozens of propane tanks in the state. Law enforcement investigators were alerted to the purchase of 100 t0 150 burners at various Walmarts by “men with accents” and are looking into the matter, while working to determine if the disappearance of the gas tanks could be connected.
The FBI was contacted about the 100 burners sold at Missouri Walmarts, but is not yet known if Federal agents are assisting local and state authorities in the investigation of the cellphone purchases and stolen propane tanks. Last Friday, around 9:30 p.m., a man described by some witnesses as “Middle Eastern” used cash to buy 50 untraceable cellphones in what has been deemed a “suspicious bulk purchase” from a Columbia Walmart, ABC 17 News reports.
— snopes.com (@snopes) December 11, 2015
Only a few hours later, around 4 a.m., two men walked into a Lebanon, Missouri Walmart and bought 60 burner phones. Police officers were immediately called to the store and interviewed the men. The two unidentified “men with accents” were not detained. It is not illegal to buy as many cellphones as you would like, or to pay cash for such purchases. The Walmart stores where the bulk 100 burners were sold are located about one hour from each other by car.
— RNR Nebraska (@RNRNebraska) December 11, 2015
“These people were, they were foreign-speaking,” Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt, said. “You need to take notice. You need to let us know about it, because it doesn’t hurt to check on it. You’re not being racist or anything like that. You’re just protecting yourself.”
— FOX 4 News (@fox4kc) December 11, 2015
The propane tanks, however, were stolen from multiple locations in Missouri. A little more than two dozen tanks came up missing in both Lee and Independence Counties, RT notes. The first tank was reported stolen from a BP gas station in Summit County at the end of last month. Later the same evening, another gas station in the area also reported a missing tank. About two weeks later an Independence County gas station filed a police report stating that 28 propane gas tanks were stolen.
During an interview with Fox 4 Kansas City News, retired FBI agent Michael Tabmen said that while the federal agency is duty bound to investigate the suspicious mass purchase of 100 burners and the large amount of stolen propane tanks in the same region, there is no need to panic that a sleeper cell is planning a terror attack just yet.
“Certainly, we hear something about gas being stolen we worry about a potential bomb. The good news is this is probably not part of terrorist planning for a number of reasons,” Tabman said. “One is they wouldn’t steal these items because they know that would attract law enforcement’s attention. Also this would not be a tool of choice.”
Tabman’s point has not been lost on many intently following the story both inside Missouri and around the country. Such a large purchase of burner phones and the propane tank thefts could be part of an emerging ISIS terror attack plot, but they could also be innocent purchases combined with routine crime, a prank designed to instill fear, or a diversion to attract law enforcement attention to Missouri while a true terror attack is being planned elsewhere.
What do you think about the 100 burners sold at the Missouri Walmart stores and the stolen propane tanks?
[Image via Shutterstock]