Truck, explosive material stolen in LA

By HIL ANDERSON   |   Jan. 2, 2002 at 8:57 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Police throughout the Los Angeles area were on alert Wednesday for a stolen flatbed truck and 500 pounds of potentially explosive nitric acid that remained unaccounted for less than 24 hours before the national college football championship game at the Rose Bowl.

Los Angeles police told reporters late Wednesday that the thieves who took the vehicle on Monday from a business in Gardena likely were not connected to terrorists and probably were unaware of potential dangers posed by the acid, which was stored in five 100-pound silver metal canisters.

"It is not known if suspects knew the chemical was in the truck. Either way, it was in the truck when it was stolen, loaded and ready for delivery," Cmdr. Garrett Zimmon said at the LAPD's Parker Center headquarters in an early evening news conference.

Nevertheless, police were anxious to find the truck, which was identified as a white 1998 Chevy model 3500 with the California license number 5T68532 and the company name "Dacco" screened on the door.

Nitric acid is commonly used in engraving and is extremely corrosive. It also can be used as an ingredient in a variety of explosives such as nitroglycerine.

Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian national who was convicted of taking part in a foiled plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in 1999, was arrested north of Seattle with 100 pounds of urea fertilizer, which becomes a powerful explosive when mixed with nitric acid, hidden in his rental car.

Security at the Rose Bowl will be extremely tight for Thursday's game between Nebraska and Miami, which is expected to draw a sell-out crowd of around 100,000 fans. An estimated 1,000 police officers will be on duty around the stadium. All vehicles are being thoroughly checked utilizing mirrors for the undercarriage inspection.

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