Real trouble could be brewing in America’s heartland — or it could all be coincidence.
It began late last week when “Middle Eastern men” reportedly depleted the stock in pre-paid cell phones at two Missouri Walmart locations, alerting local law enforcement and FBI officials.
Sixty were purchased Saturday in Lebanon, Missouri at 3:50 am, and hours before, at another Walmart store in Columbia about 100 miles away, another 40 were sold.
This week, a third Walmart location in Macon, Missouri, reported a suspicious cell phone sale, and Thursday, a fourth location in Jefferson City reported a similar bulk purchase.
Pre-paid cell phones are ideal for customers who rarely need one because there’s no monthly service fee associated with them.
And for that reason, pre-paid cell phones are the tool of choice for criminals — who refer to them as “burn phones” — because they can’t be traced to any one individual, especially if purchased in cash.
They can also be used as detonators for improvised explosive devices, which segues neatly into another “coincidence.”