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Explosives stolen from a California mine, partially returned

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A box of dynamite recovered on a farm in Oregon.

Some of the nearly 700 sticks of dynamite that were stolen from Gold Mountain Mine Company in Big Bear City, California on May 3, has been returned to a fire department in Riverside, California. An unknown individual placed two plastic tubs of the dynamite in front of the fire department, which prompted streets around the department to be shut down and an elementary school was put on lockdown while the bomb squad examined the package. At least 10 houses near the scene had to be evacuated. The dynamite was then removed without incident.

At about 11:00 a.m. PDT today an individual passing by the fire department called 9-1-1 to report suspicious packages left in front of the department.

"There's still more missing, and we want the person who left the packages to come forward. Whoever turned this in did the right thing. This person turning in this dynamite [is] a very good sign that perhaps he or she is willing to cooperate," said ATF spokesman John D'Angelo.

This crime is "a very big deal when you consider the damage one stick of dynamite could cause. In excess of 500 pounds of explosives — that's a large amount," added D'Angelo.

At least 500 pound of explosives and at least 30 pounds of ammonium nitrate are still missing and authorities are still offering a reward of $25,000 for any information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Authorities do not believe the theft is related to terrorism, despite the same materials having been used for these purposes in the past. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh used ammonium nitrate in the attack on the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, causing the deaths of 168 people.

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