- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2003

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 7 (UPI) — Law enforcement agencies in the Los Angeles area were on alert Friday night for a stolen truck hauling 44,000 pounds of boric acid, a material that can be used as an ingredient in explosives.

The California Highway Patrol told United Press International the missing truck and its cargo container were stolen around 8 p.m. PST in Corona, around 30 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The circumstances surrounding the alleged theft were not immediately available.

The Corona police informed the FBI of the theft. There was no immediate comment from the bureau.

There were no indications that the vehicle had been targeted by terrorists or anyone else intent on causing an explosion. However the theft occurred on the day that the national terrorist threat level was raised to "high" based on what federal authorities viewed as a credible evidence that an al Qaida attack was possible.

Boric acid, the stolen cargo, is a colorless, odorless crystalline substance and is used in a number of industrial processes and products such as eye wash solution, flame retardants, insecticides and fertilizers, although it can also react violently with potassium, acid anhydrides and other chemicals.

The vehicle was described as having a green tractor and a flatbed trailer carrying a cargo container and having an Oregon license plate. The CHP said there had been a number of possible sightings of the truck but the vehicle remained missing early Saturday.

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