Tancos explosives heist: the mystery thieves “returned one box too many”

For anyone who has been following the Tancos explosives heist, thinking it cannot get any more ludicrous – or indeed ‘comical’ (as it was dubbed by parliamentary president Ferro Rodrigues last week) – news today is that it just has.

National media reports that the mystery thieves who two weeks ago returned enough explosives in the middle of the night to start a small war actually left behind more than they needed to.

“There was one box too many” writes Expresso, taking care to add that the army has not revealed the box’s contents.

Bearing in mind the heist involved 57 kilos of plastic explosives, 44 rocket launchers, over 130 hand grenades and sundry clips, fuses and detonators, the mind boggles.

In response to “some insistence” by journalists working for Público, chief of the army staff Rovisco Duarte was persuaded to come up with a few more details.

“The package is the size of a box of shoes”, he said, stressing that the “light discrepancy” was “completely understandable”.

It could easily have been, for example, a “box of munitions that left for an exercise and then returned, without anyone logging it back”.

The box thus would have been sitting in the military store when thieves broke in last June.

But perhaps the best news of all is that the army has cleared Tancos military store in what Público calls a “delicate and painful” operation prompted by the unfortunate heist.

The clearance of military hardware started going ahead at the beginning of October, but was kept as quiet as possible for “questions of security”.

By midday today, the last column of military vehicles left the site, with Tancos’ future now possibly to become a military training camp.

Whatever its new role in the country’s armed forces, Tancos CCTV surveillance system may well need upgrading.

Contrary to initial reports that it had been on the blink for as many as five years, Rovisco Duarte let slip to Expresso that it had actually “started giving problems in 2002”.

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