The FBI was alerted recently after several "suspicious" bulk purchases of mobile phones at multiple Walmart locations across the state of Missouri.
The purchases have raised eyebrows, particularly after the San Bernardino terror attack earlier this month. The use of prepaid cellphones could serve as detonators for homemade bombs or as burner phones used for communication between parties.
On Thursday, KOMU-TV reported that local authorities received a call about an incident of multiple individual trying to buy several mobile phones from a Walmart.
JCPD says it received a call about another incident of a suspect/suspects buying several cell phones from a Walmart in SE Jefferson City.— KOMU 8 News (@KOMU 8 News)1449771403.0
Another incident was reported in Columbia last week, KMIZ-TV reported.
"Right then and there I knew there was not something adding up about this. It's not right, it doesn't make any sense," an anonymous witness told KQFX-TV. "Who's going to order 50 phones for Christmas? Who does that?"
The Macon County Sheriff's Office called the activity "suspicious" in a Facebook post and said federal authorities had been notified.
"The Macon County Sheriff's Office in coordination with the Macon Police Department is investigating the recent suspicious purchase of multiple cell phones made at the Macon Wal-Mart," a statement said. "Information has been collected and submitted to the FBI Saint Louis Office and Springfield Office."
[sharequote="center"]"Information has been collected and submitted to the FBI...[/sharequote]
In another instance, two men were reported for purchasing 60 phones from a Lebanon location, KSPR-TV reported. Local authorities were called to the scene, but didn't have a valid reason to detain them.
Nonetheless, authorities urge those who see suspicious behavior to contact police.
"I'm not going to say just because they're a different religion or because they're Muslim. But these people were, they were foreign-speaking. You need to take notice, you need to let us know about it because it doesn't hurt to check on it. You're not being racist or anything like that. You're just protecting yourself," Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt said, according to KSPR.
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