Reward offered for information on missing $1.6 million at Sigonella
July 1, 2004
Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials are offering rewards for information in the theft Feb. 18 of a box containing $1.6 million from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily.
Reward amounts will depend on the type of the information and its usefulness in the recovery of the money or prosecution of anyone involved.
Sigonella NCIS officials said that identities of informants will be kept confidential.
Sigonella agents are investigating the case, and other unnamed “U.S. federal law enforcement agencies” are assisting, officials said in a written response to Stars and Stripes.
The morning after the theft, Naples-based NCIS agents interviewed the Navy’s regional postal officials there. Local Sicilian law enforcement agencies also have been notified.
The money was discovered missing by base Air Cargo Division personnel when they tried to move it from a security cage to an Air Force cargo airplane for shipment.
The Heidelberg, Germany-based 266th Finance Command boxed and sent the money by registered mail to the Navy’s Auxiliary Support Unit in Bahrain. The 38-pound box of $100 bills was to be flown from Ramstein Air Base to Bahrain via Sigonella.
The package was received, signed for and added to an air cargo inventory list in Sigonella on Feb. 11, according to information from base and NCIS officials.
All registered items receive special treatment, officials wrote, which includes “hand-to-hand” accountability, and signatures of those receiving and turning over packages.
When not locked in the cage, or on an aircraft, the packages are escorted or in someone’s possession. Items in the security cage also are inventoried on a regular basis.
The money had been accounted for earlier on the day of its disappearance.
Officials wrote in response to questions that access to the package was limited to “approximately 15” U.S. military personnel assigned to the Air Cargo Division.
The person, or people, who took the package had “a good idea it was a box of money,” officials wrote. There was “no way for someone to determine the amount of money in the box” because “every money registered mail piece looks [and weighs] exactly the same,” they wrote.
There were no other registered packages or regular mail missing from the cage at the time.
They added that because of the accountability procedures for registered mail “even if it was planned in advance the opportunity still had to present itself.”
Registered packages, including the missing $1.6 million, are normally not insured, officials wrote, as it was sent from one government organization to another by the government-run U.S. mail.
Officials say that more information may be released in the future.
“The purpose of releasing this information is to make the public aware of the missing money,” the officials wrote. “There may be [an] individual [or people] who have some knowledge of the incident but are not aware of the significance of what they may know.”
Anyone with information, or who may know someone with information, is asked to call Special Agent Jeff Grant at DSN 624-9210 or commercial (+39) 095-86-9210.