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Explosive detonator stolen from post

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Pictured is an improvised explosive detonator similar to one that was stolen from Camp Atterbury. The detonator was stolen sometime before Monday morning from the base near Edinburgh.
Pictured is an improvised explosive detonator similar to one that was stolen from Camp Atterbury. The detonator was stolen sometime before Monday morning from the base near Edinburgh.

Police and Camp Atterbury military officials are searching for a control box used to simulate explosions from roadside bombs that was stolen from the military post during the weekend.

The missing item is an MPT-30 firebox, which is used in training to simulate explosions from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, Camp Atterbury spokeswoman Capt. Jessica Cates said. Those types of explosives are typically homemade bombs, such as roadside bombs encountered by troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, or the pressure cooker bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon.

The control box is just one component of the training device and doesn’t contain an explosive or charge, so it is not dangerous on its own, Cates said. The control box connects to a cartridge containing pyrotechnic training charges and can be activated remotely by radio control, according to Pacific Coast Systems, which manufactures the MPT-30 device.

“It’s nothing threatening to the community, so we don’t want them to be alarmed,” Cates said.

Military police also discovered other items were missing, including rolls of tape, a tool bag and tools, wire cutters and wire strippers, blue tarps, ratchet tie-down straps, cans of Rustoleum black spray paint and power inverters, according to the sheriff’s office report.

The break-in at the Counter IED Integration Cell Building was discovered Monday morning and reported to military police. On Tuesday, the military discovered that a firebox was stolen and asked the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the investigation because it is considered a sensitive item, a report from the sheriff’s office said.

The military’s Anti-Terrorism Investigation Division also was notified.

The exterior door was missing, a device used in IED training had been thrown through a window, and an interior door was broken in half, the sheriff’s office report said.

Who stole the items and how they got to the building deep inside the post is unknown, Cates said.

The building that was broken into is in a wooded training area that is far from the main entrance, barracks or public roads near the edges of the camp, Cates said. Camp Atterbury, located near Edinburgh, is a secure military installation, and the public isn’t allowed on the post without a military escort.

Cates said she couldn’t speculate how somebody got to the building and why they would break into it.

“It would be a pretty good hike for a civilian that lived on the outskirts of Atterbury for them to come in and do something like that. That’s the part we’re looking into to see if it’s a unit that was here training or an outside person,” Cates said. “I’m going to leave it up to the authorities to determine that. So we are leaving it up to those folks to do their job and find out who is responsible.”

The IED simulation is operated by a private contractor that works at Camp Atterbury, Cates said. The area where the break-in occurred is used to teach soldiers how to look for and identify explosive hazards, she added.

Training takes place only when needed by units on the post, and the company likely didn’t have any simulations over the weekend, which is why the break-in wasn’t discovered until Monday, she said. An employee from that company reported damage to the building when he arrived Monday, Cates said.

Atterbury-Muscatatuck offers several IED-related trainings, using training equipment such as suicide bomber vests, IEDs, mines and booby traps with audible and visual explosions, according to the Camp Atterbury website. The post also has vehicle simulators to train soldiers to drive mine- resistant vehicles and use an IED battle simulator.

Anyone with information about the break-in or the control box should contact the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at 317-346-4604 or Cates at Camp Atterbury Public Affairs at 812-526-1386.

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