Police: Gang of Painters Stole Weapons From IDF Base

YERUSHALAYIM -
Some of the weapons apprehended by the police. (Police Spokesman)

An intensive investigation of theft from a weapons storage facility at the Sde Teiman IDF base in southern Israel has led to the uncovering of an illegal weapons trading ring.

Six people were arrested in connection with the case, it was revealed Monday. According to officials, the suspects were outside civilian workers employed at the base, undertaking a painting and fix-up project.

Officials said that the group broke into the weapons warehouse and loaded dozens of weapons onto their truck, which was parked near the warehouse. After several days on the job, when their presence was no longer seen by soldiers as out of the ordinary, they began veering off their regular schedule and entered areas of the base where they were not authorized to go. When they realized no one was watching them, they began stealing the weapons.

The gang sold the weapons to criminal groups, security officials said. Police found some of the weapons in the possession of criminals and traced them back to the base. The gang earned hundreds of thousands of shekels from their theft, police said.

The theft, which occurred at the end of May, triggered a new project to beef up security at all weapons storehouses around the country. For the first time, a comprehensive map of all weapons warehouses is being drawn up. Once they are mapped, the IDF will begin beefing up security around the facilities, using video, sensors, and alarms to ensure safety. Access to the warehouses will be granted only to authorized personnel, with biometrics likely to be used to identify and authenticate those who are allowed to have access to the facilities. Other advanced technologies, including big data and computer analysis, will be used to discover weak points where thefts are more likely to occur, Channel Two reported.

According to Channel Two, the thieves walked away with 33 automatic weapons, 13 Lau rockets, 77 smoke grenades and a Matador portable, disposable antiarmor weapon system.

Police, who are not responsible for security at army bases, slammed the IDF, saying that in the best case scenario, the weapons would be used by organized crime gangs to fight against each other, but that some of the weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists.