Two charged after Army radios end up on eBay
Stars and Stripes July 3, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Two South Korean men are in custody and a third may be charged after Army radios stolen from a Pusan recycling depot turned up on an online auction site, a Pusan police official said Friday.
The eight radios and accessories — valued at $67,000 total — were recovered by Korean National Police, said Maj. David Oten, 8th Army deputy public affairs officer.
The radios are RT1439 single channel ground airborne radio systems, known as SINCGARS, the Army’s standard ground and vehicle radio used by infantry troops, Oten said.
A man named Hong who worked for the Defense Reutilization and Management Office a few miles from Camp Hialeah allegedly kept eight Army radios in April 2001, said Lt. Son Kyu-hwa of the Pusan police agency of foreign affairs division. A base employee whom Oten could not identify allegedly falsified paperwork saying the radios had been properly decommissioned, Oten said.
The military uses DRMO to recycle or dispose of equipment, Oten said. If the cost of repairing an item is more than the item’s value, the Army may choose to dispose of it, he said.
Some equipment may be sold, but materials having proprietary military technology are “demilitarized,” Oten said.
The radios, which each cost $7,000 new, were scheduled for demilitarization, Oten said.
But Hong sold them for about $83 each to a man named Chae who collects surplus Army equipment, Pusan police’s Son said. Chae resold the radios to a man named Kim, an amateur radio technician, for about $266 each, Son said.
Only the last names of the three men were available, Son said.
On May 15, Kim posted two of the radios for about $1,200 each on eBay, Son said. A CIA agent noticed the radios and contacted Camp Hialeah, Son said.
While illegal, the sale of the radios didn’t a pose a great security risk, Oten said.
The radios are common and didn’t have advanced cryptographic equipment, Oten said.
“It was not a secure communications issue,” he said.
The incident remains under investigation by Army Criminal Investigation Division agents, Oten said.
— Choe Song-won contributed to this report.