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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — It’s a case that has German investigators stumped: How do seven drums of metal cable — each weighing more than a ton each — disappear from a U.S. military base construction site?

German police suspect someone stole the cable from a private contractor and sold it on the black market, but they aren’t sure. It is unlikely that someone would misplace the huge wooden spools of metal cable, but impossible for someone to, say, take off with one in the back of a pickup truck.

Police are pleading for help from the public or anyone who might have any information that can unravel the mystery of the missing cable drums.

So far, investigators have run into dead ends.

“We have no information,” said Peter Stein, an officer with the German police liaison office at Ramstein Air Base. “None at all.”

The cables are in various lengths and types and were last seen near the base’s soon-to-be Kaiserslautern Military Community Center, which is under construction. The longest cable is 400 yards long, while some are more than a couple of inches thick.

A new hydraulically operated hammer also is missing.

The metal cables — similar to telephone cables and worth about $30,000 — are believed to have disappeared over the last two months. About two months ago, suspects allegedly stole five drums — each weighing 1½ to 2 tons and more than 6 feet high.

Then, two more vanished.

Investigators believe the cable was stolen because the price of metal such as copper has skyrocketed in the past couple of months. But to make off with the cable, the thieves would have had to use some heavy-duty equipment.

“Nobody would be able to put it in their car,” Stein said. “So, it could be other firms with trucks.… We’re not sure how they do it. But there’s only one way. Maybe a truck with a little crane on there?”

With so much construction going on at the base, Stein suggested it might be possible a truck could lift the cable drums without anybody noticing. The air base is in the midst of a building boom as it takes on additional flights from Rhein-Main Air Base, which will close at the end of the year and be handed over to Germany.

Air Force spokeswoman Erin Zagursky said the disappearance of the cable has not affected operations. Air Force civil engineers are working with the German police to figure out where they went, she added.

Anyone with information about the drums is encouraged to contact Ramstein’s German police liaison office at DSN 480-1985,


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