Two men buying 60 cellphones at Missouri Walmart raise suspicion

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LEBANON, Mo. — Two men bought dozens of cellphones at a Missouri Walmart, raising red flags and attracting the attention of federal officials who say those electronic devices, in the wrong hands, could be used in destructive and even deadly ways, KYTV reports.

Police said the pair purchased 60 cellphones Saturday at a store just off Interstate 44 in Lebanon.

The elaborate – and specific – shopping trip drew police to the area. Officers talked to the customers but did not have a legal reason to detain them so the men were allowed to leave. Officials said they notified the FBI.

“Somebody went in and bought 60 cell phones from Walmart. That’s not normal for this area. I’m not going to say just because they’re different religion or just because they’re Muslim, but these people were, they were foreign speaking, then you need to take notice and you need to let us know because it doesn’t hurt to check on it,” Sheriff Wayne Merritt told KYTV. “You’re not being racist or anything like that. You’re just protecting yourself.”

Law enforcement said cellphones are potential tools in the hands of terrorists. They can be used to communicate in relative secrecy because they’re difficult to trace if they are prepaid. They also can be used as detonators for bombs.