August 27, 2010
By Laura Geller
HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 has uncovered one of those stories that makes you think: "How in the world does that happen?!" A truck filled with President Obama's podiums and audio equipment was stolen in Henrico just days before his visit to Chesterfield.
We confirmed an investigation with the U.S. Defense Department. There are still a lot of questions. The biggest one being did the thieves intentionally target the President's truck or did they take advantage of a crime of opportunity and give a big "uh-oh" when they saw what was inside.
When you see President Obama speak, there is a pretty typical setup including the presidential seal on a podium, the see-thru Teleprompter and a portable sound system.
Thieves saw the truck carrying that equipment and couldn't resist the target.
We're told the truck was parked at the Virginia Center Commons Courtyard Marriott in advance on Wednesday's presidential visit to Chesterfield.
Sources said inside that vehicle was about $200,000 worth of sound equipment, several podiums and presidential seals, behind which only the President himself can stand.
They told NBC12 around 12:30 Monday afternoon that truck was recovered in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express near the airport and hotel staff confirm police activity. One guest we spoke with said he saw various law enforcement agencies examining a white box truck parked there.
According to him, the entire back parking lot was blocked off as Henrico Police along with "lots of guys in suits" investigated. He said the truck had no markings and no indication anything special was inside. That leads to another big question of whether or not any of that was actually stolen.
Late Monday evening we found a truck with US government tags still parked in the Marriott's lot. We are waiting to find out if that is the original truck returned to the staff or a second vehicle.
We were able to get this statement from a Defense Information Systems Agency spokesperson: "No classified or sensitive information was in the vehicle. We take incidents such as this very seriously and a formal investigation is continuing."
We are waiting to find out if surveillance cameras on the building captured the crooks on tape.
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