A lot of us who are into night vision devices or want to have the same equipment that the US government has access to will spend a lot of time and money trying to acquire these things through legal means. Not so for 3 individuals who were recently charged with the theft of nearly $2,200,000 worth of military equipment from Fort Hood including IR Laser illuminators, AN-PRC-117 radios, and thermal optics. Two US Army veterans plus one civilian businessman have since been charged with conspiracy to commit theft of government property.
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$2.1M in Radios, Lasers, and Optics Stolen from Fort Hood
The theft was initially investigated back in July of 2021 when the base lost over 100 night vision devices that went missing. After this initial incident, an investigation was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Army Criminal Investigation Division. The investigation revealed that Jessica Elaintrell Smith, and Brandon Dominic Brown, conspired with civilian Nathan Nichols to steal night vision devices, 68 PAS-13 thermal scopes, 3 AN-PRC-117 radios, 3 PEQ-15 standard-issue weapon-mounted laser units, nine AN-PSC-5 satellite communication terminals, 1 AN-VRC-90 radio, and 47 RT-1523 radios.
The thefts were uncovered and the alleged thieves were identified via base security footage. Brown and Smith both arrived separately at Fort Hood around 9pm at night where the two managed to break into a Conex box, steal the gear, throw it over the fence and then later send photos of the items in question for Nichols to purchase and flip. Investigators later found some of the stolen items for sale on Nichols’ eBay account us-everythingmustgo.
Both Smith and Brown will face a maximum of up to $250,000 in fines and five years in prison if found guilty of conspiracy to commit theft of government property, however, both of the veterans have pled “not guilty” pleas. On the other hand, Nichols has pleaded guilty to the same charge as well as charges of operating illegal gambling devices at his two businesses. Nichols has agreed to forfeit the ill-earned $2.1 million and will face sentencing of up to 5-years for each of the convictions on June 21st of this year.
What are your thoughts on this incident? Is there a way for Fort Hood and Army bases in general to prevent these types of thefts? Let us know what you think down in the comments.