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Lockdown on Army base lifted; equipment still missing

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – A company of soldiers has been released from lockdown at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington as criminal investigators probe the theft of $600,000 worth of weapons accessories.

About 100 soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were allowed to return home Tuesday evening after being restricted to their battalion headquarters since Jan. 4.

Sources told KING5 the equipment went missing sometime between Christmas and New Year's. Someone realized a lock had been changed in the weapons room, and no one had a key to it.

Read original story on KING5.com

After breaking through the lock, JBLM officials tallied about $600,000 worth of missing weapon sights, night vision devices, optics, rifle scopes and other items.

NBC sources said they do not believe the equipment was stolen for espionage, but rather to sell for profit.

Brigade commander Col. Michael Getchell told The Associated Press the restrictions "have been an integral part of the investigation."

An Associated Press phone message to the investigating office was not immediately returned.

Lockdowns are a common military practice in cases like these, JBLM spokesman Major Chris Ophardt told NWCN.com.

In March 2001, about 150 soldiers faced a similar situation over a one pair of missing night vision goggles, he said.

KING5 and The AP contributed to this report.

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