Reward rises in explosives case

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WALLA WALLA -- The reward for information leading to prosecution in last month's explosives theft has been raised to $25,000.

Robert R. Champion, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Seattle Field Division, announced the increased reward today. The original reward was $5,000.

The ATF is assisting the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office and local law enforcement in the investigation.

A variety of explosives were stolen from a storage magazine in a remote section at the Walla Walla Regional Airport industrial park late last month.

The locked magazine held explosives stored by various law enforcement agencies and private parties.

Among the items stolen were 96 one-pound blocks of TNT, 17 sticks of dynamite, spools of detonation cord and 180 pounds of black powder used for reproduction and antique black-powder firearms.

According to news reports, five units in the structure were forcibly entered between July 23 and July 27. The break-in was discovered on July 27 during a routine inspection by Washington State Patrol officers.

Officials have said the bunker, which was built in World War II to house explosives, met all state and federal standards for storage of explosives. The building, which is located at least 3,000 feet from any other occupied building, is not surrounded by a fence but the Port of Walla Walla plans to increase security measures at the site, said Jim Kuntz, Port executive director.

The explosives are stable if properly stored and used, "but in the hands of untrained people they pose a significant public safety threat," Champion said in an earlier release.

HOTLINE NUMBER
�The hotline number for information on the explosives theft is 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662). All calls are confidential.

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