Video: Missing propane trucks

updated 6/2/2004 8:44:52 AM ET 2004-06-02T12:44:52

Two propane-delivery trucks were stolen from a gas company over the holiday weekend, raising fears of what could happen if terrorists got hold of the explosive fuel.

Police Chief Albert Ortiz said Tuesday that his department does not suspect that terrorism was behind the thefts. But officials said that since Sept. 11, such a possibility cannot be ignored.

“Four years ago, we probably would not be too concerned about this, San Antonio FBI agent Patrick Patterson said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.” “It would be a major theft and handled like any other criminal investigation. Because of the nature of the day, we are very, very concerned about the whereabouts of these two trucks.”

One of the tankers carried about 3,000 gallons of propane, while the other held 2,600 gallons, police said. The trucks were taken from a parking lot owned by Ferrellgas and have the company logo on them.

Another FBI spokesman, Rene Salinas, said the market for propane in Mexico is strong and that the thieves could have been filling an order, mirroring a similar theft about nine months ago. A nationwide alert has been posted and law enforcement officials in Mexico also have been contacted, he said.

“We don’t want to alarm anyone,” Salinas said. “But we do want people to be on the lookout.”

Also under investigation is the weekend theft of 15 gas canisters from an ambulance supply company.

“We think it is just a coincidence at this point,” said Ortiz, who appeared at a Tuesday news conference.

He said five of the stolen canisters were empty, but others contained nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen.

Patterson said the theft of the canisters was unusual and they could be used for improvised explosive devices.

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