'Troubled' Washington Base Faces Theft of $630,000 Sensitive Military Gear

Sensitive military optics equipment has gone missing from a troubled Washington state military base.

The military gear, valued at around $630,000, has gone missing from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in northwestern Washington state, as stated Monday by the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has captured headlines in recent years with numerous high profile crimes being linked to the base.

Just recently, Benjamin Colton Barnes, a veteran that served at Joint Base Lewis-McChord until he was discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2009, went on a killing spree that left a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park dead. Police believe he also killed two others at a New Year’s Eve party.

Other high profile crimes connected to the base include the high-speed chase involving Sgt. David Stewart this past April.

Stewart led law enforcement officers on a chase down a highway prior to killing himself and his wife. Police later found the dead body of Stewart’s five-year-old son in the family home.

In 2010, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes labeled the Washington base “the most troubled base in the military” and local veterans refer to Joint Base Lewis-McChord as the “base on the brink.”

The recently stolen gear is not believed to be dangerous to the public on its own as “no weapons or ammunition are missing as part of this investigation,” the Army Criminal Investigation Command statement said. The base has been under strict lockdown for the past six days over the theft.

Night vision goggles and rifle scopes were among the 150 stolen items and can be purchased on the open market, but military officials argue that the missing equipment is top of the line equipment.

“You can buy a lot of this type of stuff on the open market, but it’s not military-grade,” Maj. Chris Ophardt told The Seattle Times.

It is unclear when the military equipment went missing from the troubled base, but officials at the base believe that the theft occurred between Dec. 14 and Jan. 3. The army is offering a $10,000 reward for help in locating the person or persons responsible for the theft.

Those found to be responsible for the theft could face criminal charges and could also be required to pay back the government.