Thefts at Casey prompt probe, security review
By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 16, 2008
CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Multiple high-dollar equipment thefts since April have criminal investigators searching and 2nd Infantry Division officials assessing security measures.
On two occasions, sensitive equipment was stolen from the Camp Casey medical clinic helicopter pad, according to the base Criminal Investigation Command.
The most recent theft occurred between May 8 and 9, when two Black Hawk helicopter electronic locator transmitters were stolen.
Between April 6 and 7, three sets of body armor with gear, known as Primary Survival Gear Carriers, were stolen from a Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter on the pad at the Camp Casey medical clinic. Investigators are offering a $2,000 reward for information in the case.
Meanwhile, a pair of night-vision goggles went missing between April 24 and 29 from Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment. The battalion’s troops were put on lockdown following the incident.
Criminal investigators are seeking tips on each incident and can be reached at DSN 730-4417.
Division spokeswoman Maj. Kimeisha McCullum could not provide further details on the investigations because they are ongoing.
"Anytime we have a situation where a crime has been committed, we always conduct an assessment or analysis of the incident and work to take the appropriate measures," McCullum said in an e-mail.
Soldiers at Camp Casey said a certain amount of barracks theft — video games, cell phones and other personal items — is a fact of life.
Soldiers have roommates who invite their own friends in, not all of whom are trustworthy.
But it’s unusual to see sensitive military equipment go missing, soldiers said Wednesday. When that does happen, they said, it’s rarely theft. "It’s usually a case of a soldier leaving it someplace, and they forgot where they put it," said Pfc. James Purvis of 210th Fires Brigade headquarters.
Pfc. Steven Christopherson, who recently transferred to Purvis’ unit, said he’s heard stories of soldiers stealing minor items like ones they’ve lost, so they can return them to the central issuing facility before they leave South Korea.
Some soldiers’ gear ends up in pawn shops near Camp Casey sometimes called "TA-50 Alley," a reference to the TA-50 Army-issued field gear including sleeping bags, canteens and body armor.
Some of it is used gear sold legitimately; however, stolen or unauthorized goods sometimes end up in the pawn shops. Last year, Homeboy E-Z Pawn across the street from Camp Casey was put off-limits temporarily for buying a soldier’s body armor.
Pfc. Michael Glassman Jr., the soldier who stole the armor and sold it to the pawn shop received 30 months in prison for that and other thefts. Pfc. Mason Matthews, who works with expensive artillery guns and accessories during field exercises, said soldiers take extra precautions with the most sensitive items.
"We understand it’s our own liability if something gets taken," said Matthews, of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery.