By EMIL WHITIS
Daily Press Staff Writer
CARLSBAD — On Wednesday, a Carlsbad man filled out paperwork reporting the theft of 60 to 100 sticks of nitroglycerin-based dynamite, 80 blasting caps and 1,200 feet of detonator cord at the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, sending authorities scrambling to locate the explosive cache.
ECSO Capt. Jeff Zuniga said the stolen dynamite was 10 to 12 years old and had not been inspected for years. He said the particular type of stolen dynamite is known to break down and fuse together, causing it to become extremely volatile with age.
“An inadvertent bump or jolt could set this stuff off,” said Zuniga. “This incident poses a definite and serious risk to public safety.”
Zuniga said the owner of the explosives intimated to authorities that if all the dynamite was ignited at the same time the explosion would likely consume half of a city block.
The theft occurred south of Carlsbad at 1011 Bounds Road. sometime “in the past two weeks” while the owner of the residence was gone.
According to Zuniga, authorities first learned of the incident Tuesday when a vigilant neighbor observed military-style ammunition cans where the dynamite was stored had been tampered with.
Zuniga said as ammunition was also stored in the ammo cans the thief may not have understood the full gravity of what he or she was stealing.
He said ECSO has enlisted the help of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in dealing with the incident, but most of his hope for locating the explosives lies with the public.
“We are appealing to the public to come forward with some information in regard to the location of the dynamite,” he said. “(If found), do not try to remove or tamper with it — identify its location and allow us to evacuate the area.”
The ECSO currently has no leads with regard to where the explosives are being held.
Although it is known the owner of the dynamite had an employment history in demolition, it remains unclear whether the man had the permits necessary to legally possess the explosives.
Zuniga said, by law, dynamite is required to be inspected at least once a year, adding charges against the owner would be filed by the ECSO with the district attorney’s office.
He said, in the past, dynamite was commonly used in the potash mines and in the oil field, but was almost exclusively handled by expert contractors.
Anyone with information regarding the theft or location of the explosives is urged to call 911 or contact the ECSO at 887-7551.