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Two held in rail car tampering

(The following article by Gina Tenorio was posted on the San Bernardino County Sun website on June 16.)

YERMO, Calif. -- Union Pacific Railroad police have arrested two men suspected of attempting to break into a rail car carrying a motor for Railroad officials did not release their names. But sheriff's records show railroad police arrested a man at Union Pacific Road a Tuesday. At 6:40 p.m. the same day, they arrested a second man at the Yermo train yard. Both are suspected of burglary.

They were booked into the sheriff's jail in Barstow and transferred to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga where sheriff's officials said they remained in custody Wednesday.

On June 10, railroad workers discovered a car carrying the rocket motor had been tampered with. At the time, officials said they suspected the culprits had been looking for food or merchandise.

Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis confirmed those suspicion's Wednesday.

"They were looking for consumer products,' Davis said.

The culprits apparently attempted to break into the rail car in the very early hours of the morning while it was still dark, he said.

The rail car was found open but there was no tampering or damage to the contents and no rocket fuel had spilled, said John Bromley also a spokesman for Union Pacific.

Few other details were released.

"The process is continuing, and we're not ready to release any other information,' Davis said.

The attempted break-in prompted the voluntary evacuation of about 100 families and launched an investigation involving the Defens Families within a 2-square-mile area of Yermo voluntarily left their homes for hours at the request of the military.

Since terrorism has since been ruled out as a motive behind the attempted break-in, the investigation is now completely in the hands of railroad police, FBI officials said.

Thefts at the railroad yards are not unusual, Davis said.

"I'd say it's a problem that's been in the rail industry since it's inception,' he said. "That's why the rail industry created their own police back in the 1800s.'

Thursday, June 16, 2005

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