updated 11/8/2004 6:00:21 PM ET 2004-11-08T23:00:21

The FBI is investigating the reported thefts of scores of propane cylinders in the Denver area, a crime spree that has raised fears of a terrorist attack.

About 100 cylinders, each containing about 7.8 gallons of the highly flammable gas and weighing about 33 pounds, have been stolen from various businesses since July, FBI Agent Monique Kelso said Monday.

The investigation was first reported by KMGH-TV in Denver.

“The potential threat is that these propane tanks get into the wrong hands ... and get into the hands of those that are willing to commit a crime on the magnitude of the Oklahoma City bombing or another terrorist attack,” Kelso told the station.

She said Monday that the tanks might also have been taken for power equipment such as farm machinery. The tanks are larger than those used for barbecue grills.

Twenty-eight propane cylinders have been stolen from Dal-Tile Corp. of Denver, including 10 in the past six months, said Randy Warren, operations manager at the company, which manufactures ceramic tile.

“Why are they so adamant in cutting a lock, cutting chains, trying to rip the doors off or whatever it is to get to these?” he asked.

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