Soldier charged in theft of sophisticated military gear

Story highlights

  • Nicholas Solt was charged with six counts related to the theft
  • The theft totaled about $630,000 in "military-grade" equipment
  • No weapons were involved, the Army says
A 22-year-old soldier has been charged with the theft hundreds of items, including sophisticated military hardware, that went missing from a large military base in Washington state last month, the Army said in a statement Friday.
Nicholas Solt was charged with six counts related to the theft, totaling about $630,000 in "military-grade" equipment, and has been placed in pre-trial confinement.
If convicted, he could face up to 59 years behind bars and would be dishonorably discharged, the Army said.
Last month, about 100 soldiers were detained during an investigation into the theft.
"Hundreds of items" went missing from a vault that is inside a building on the base, according to Maj. Chris Ophardt, a spokesman for the U.S. Army's I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. They include things such as scopes and night-vision goggles but no guns or ammunition.
"There are no weapons, and there's no danger to the public," Ophardt said.
Ninety-eight percent of the "sensitive items and equipment" have since been recovered, the Army said.
After learning of the thefts, the Army decided on January 4 to put members of the Army's 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division on lockdown, preventing soldiers from making phone calls or leaving the unit's barracks or unit office.
The unit has been home from Iraq since September 2010.
Military officials did their monthly inventory of the vault in December. They then did another after the holiday vacation and determined that "large amounts" of items were missing -- "immediately" precipitating the lockdown, said Ophardt.
A $10,000 reward had been offered by the Army in the case.
The missing items could all "be bought on the civilian market, just one or two generations older," the spokesman said. He added that they have limited use to the public, given the challenges in knowing how to use them and having the right kind of weapon to attach them to.