BY DOUGLAS QUAN, POST MEDIA NEWS DECEMBER 27, 2011
Police in Indiana say they hope video surveillance footage, plus the recovery of DNA and fingerprint evidence, will lead them to a group of brazen thieves who stole a truckload of Canada-bound Research in Motion electronic devices earlier this month.
Investigators say the truck-stop heist of 5,200 BlackBerry Playbook tablets — with a wholesale value of $1.7 million — was pulled off in just 13 minutes, most likely by a group of professional bandits who've done this before.
"Looking at the video, they were well-orchestrated. This wasn't a one-time shot," said Mike Milbourn, an officer with the Chesterfield Police Department.
Milbourn said members of an FBI task force that specializes in inter-state cargo theft are scheduled to travel to Indiana on Wednesday to view surveillance footage from the Dec. 15 incident.
Milbourn said it appears from the video images that the semi-trailer — which was destined for Waterloo, Ont., where RIM is based — was followed from a distribution warehouse in Plainfield, Indiana, to a truck stop in Chesterfield, about one hour away.
Driver Jason Garant told a local FOX TV station that he went in to grab a quick bite and take a shower and by the time he was out the truck was gone.
At least five people and three vehicles were involved in the elaborate caper, Milbourn said.
Investigators have recovered a fingerprint believed to belong to one of the suspects from the truck stop. That evidence, plus fingerprint and DNA evidence recovered from inside the stolen cab — which was later found about a mile away — will be sent to a state lab for analysis, Milbourn said.
The trailer and its pricey cargo are still missing.
Milbourn said FBI investigators have told him that the stolen electronic devices could be bound for Florida and shipped overseas.
An FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday he couldn't comment on the case because the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone who attempts to use one of the stolen tablets could have a tough time. All the devices have been blocked from being able to register with RIM and download any software, Milbourn said. Plus, the serial numbers from each tablet have been entered into a national law enforcement database.
A RIM spokeswoman said Tuesday she couldn't provide any additional information.
The theft of the devices comes at the end of a year that saw RIM's stock price plunge, massive job cuts at the company, a prolonged BlackBerry service outage that infuriated users around the world and the firing of two vice-presidents who became intoxicated on a commercial flight to Beijing.
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