Law enforcement agencies are breathing a sigh of relief after two propane trucks stolen out of San Antonio are found. Theft of the vehicles raised concerns because terroritsts are known to have trained with propane. That had law enforcement agenices around the nation, the state, and here in Lubbock on the lookout.
The propane trucks were found Wednesday afternoon near Laredo, Texas. Laredo is near the border to Mexico. That's exactly where one Lubbock propane company speculated they'd be heading. Ken Callaway, with Smith L.P. Gas Co., says, "They (the trucks) hold enough to do a lot of damage, but more than likely it was stolen because somebody wanted to sell propane out of this country."
Out of this country meaning south of the Texas border. Propane thefts are not uncommon in South Texas because propane is a hot commodity in Mexico. There it's used for generating electricity, but with the U.S. on a heightened terror alert, authorities feared the worst. Callaway says, "There's a lot of things they could do with it (a truck)... open a valve and light it and when the propane burned out and pressure got low enough, the flame would get inside the tank and explode."
If a propane delivery truck was driven into a building, it could create a significant explosion and that's why fedeal authorities put out a nation-wide alert. Cpl. John Gonzales, with the Texas Department of Public Safety, says, "Anytime a stolen vehicle is reported, the first thing that's done is it's given to the local agency that reports it and then they disperse it and give it to the smaller agencies up through state agencies."
When information on the stolen tankers reached Lubbock law enforcement, they were then on the lookout for anything suspicious making it's way through town. Meanwhile, back at Smith L.P. Gas Co., Bob and Hazy, the company watchdogs, watchover their trucks to make sure they stay put. Callaway says, "They're (the trucks) fenced in every night and we have two watch dogs running around and the keys they're locked up."
The two stolen trucks were carrying several thousand pounds of propane which is highly flamable. The propane was still in the trucks when they were found. Also, at the same time the trucks were stolen, 15 gas canisters were stolen from an ambulance supply company north of downtown San Antonio. Officials do not think the two incidents are connected.