October 20, 2016
100 'Burners' Sold: Prepaid Cellphones And Stolen Propane Tanks Spark ISIS Fears In Missouri

Stolen cellphones and propane tanks in Missouri have sparked ISIS terrorism attack worries among residents and multiple law enforcement agencies. More than 100 "burners" sold at three Walmart stores occurred last weekend. More than two dozen propane tanks disappeared from a series of gas stations over the course of the past several weeks.

The FBI was alerted to the cash purchases of more than 100 burners, or untraceable prepaid cellphones, and has launched an investigation into the matter. Walmart staffers called local authorities after becoming concerned when three men with Middle Eastern accents bought large amount of disposable cellphones. While it is not illegal to buy as many burner phones as you want, and to pay cash for the mobile devices, at least one of the men who made the purchases were questioned and released by police officers.

According to a KY3 News report about the Missouri Walmart "suspicious purchases," the cities where the men bought approximately 150 prepaid cell phones were Columbia, Jefferson City, Lebanon, Ava, Jackson, and Cape Girardeau. It is not yet known if there is a link between the more than 100 burners sold at the various Walmart stores, or if the purchases are connected to the stolen propane tanks.

Police officers that responded to the call about the unusual purchase of prepaid cell phones in Ava, Missouri were told by the man with a "Middle Eastern background" that he was a businessman from Michigan. Whether or not the man was an American citizen or the reason why he was in the state and decided to purchase such a large amount of burners, remains unknown -- at least by the public.

The bulk prepaid cellphone purchases at the Ava Walmart reportedly happened approximately three hours after two men bought 60 burners at a Lebanon Walmart. The county sheriff was also unable to find any legal justification for detaining them for the mass purchase of prepaid cell phones. A law enforcement spokesperson told the local media that it is possible that all of the Missouri Walmart cell phone purchases were made by the same small group of men.

Around two dozen propane tanks were stolen from at least three different gas stations in both Lee County and Summit County. The first theft reported involved 18 propane tanks being stolen from a BP gas station in late November. During the same evening, another area gas station reported the disappearance of propane tanks from the store's locked cage which holds the BBQ grill and camping gas canisters. Approximately two weeks later, a total of 28 propane tanks were stolen from another gas station in the same region of the state, RT reports.

A man who claimed that he was from Michigan reportedly made bought around 20 burner phones in the Marshfield area in October. The local police chief said that the man used a "false" tax-exempt waiver to buy the phones from the Walmart store to skip out on paying sales tax. Police investigators that while the activity is suspicious, bulk purchases of cellphones do happen so that the prepaid phones can be given away as promotional items and by people who buy the phones and then resell for a profit.

First Impressions Wireless owner Marco Denis said that because he understands that prepaid cell phones can be used for illegal activity and potentially by terrorists, he considers the Missouri Walmart purchases "suspicious." Denis said that his store would never sell a customer 60 burners at one time.

"We've had people come in asking for 10 phones or 15 phones, and we usually ask them questions, why do you need that many phones? And if they cannot give us an answer, we usually do not sell it to them," the store owner added.

What do you think about the 100 burners sold at Missouri Walmart stores and the stolen propane tanks?

[Image via Shutterstock]