DETROIT, April 22 (UPI) — Federal authorities are trying to track down 500 pounds of commercial grade fireworks that agents believe were taken off a freight train somewhere in the Midwest.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced the missing fireworks Friday, which were apparently removed from a CSX train that was traveling from Chicago to Detroit.
By the time the train arrived in Detroit, rail officials noticed that half its shipment of fireworks was gone.
Authorities are conducting searches in three states — Illinois, Ohio and Michigan — where the train stopped during its trip.
Federal agents say it’s the quantity stolen that makes them extremely dangerous. Officials said they believe 32 cases were stolen, in all, which indicates several people were likely involved in the theft.
The shells that carry the commercial grade fireworks measure between 2 1/2 to 5 inches in length, officials said, and are the type typically used by governments for large holiday celebrations like the Fourth of July.
The ATF’s Detroit office is leading the investigation with assistance from Detroit Police, CBS News reported Friday.
Investigators said they are concerned the explosive materials could fall into the wrong hands, due to the substantial amount taken.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is expected to issue an advisory for the missing materials and possibly a reward in the coming days.
Officials aren’t yet sure about a motive, but they said terrorism is unlikely.
“There is nothing to indicate any acts of terrorism at this time,” ATF spokesman Donald Dawkins said. “We’re not sure where the theft occurred, when it occurred. We’re leaning toward Detroit probably where the theft occurred but we’re not sure.”
Dawkins said it’s possible the thieves took the fireworks to sell them for a profit.
“[These fireworks are] not for regular consumer use. We see facial injuries every year from these … they’re loaded with pyrotechnic explosives.”