Defense Contractor Offers Hefty Reward in Thefts

Aluminum thefts could delay airplane parts

By Chris Van Horne
|  Thursday, Feb 24, 2011  |  Updated 7:30 PM CDT
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The owner of <a title=Aero Components Inc. is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of men caught on camera stealing aluminum from the defense contractor." />

Chris Van Horne

The owner of Aero Components Inc. is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of men caught on camera stealing aluminum from the defense contractor.

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Aluminum thieves likely did not know that the local business they broke into was a defense contractor -- or that the thefts were caught on surveillance video.

Aero Components Inc. is offering $10,000 for a conviction in the case and return of the stolen materials.

Three men broke into a gated, locked exterior storage facility in south Fort Worth three times in a 24-hour period. The first break-in was at about 5 a.m. on Feb. 13. The men returned at 8 p.m. and then again the next morning at 5 a.m.

"To (the thieves), it's a piece of metal, it's worth 50 bucks," Aero CEO Jon Williams said. "To me, I got a lot of people I'm feeding out here, and their welfare depends on that tooling and stuff like that."

The family-owned company manufactures aircraft parts for the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter, to name a few.

The theft of the aluminum toolings, which are basically the parts' form, could mean up to a $10,000 loss and a possible delay in building some parts.

To make matters worse, the private company paid to monitor the security cameras during off-hours missed all three thefts.

"I'm like Eddie Chiles -- I'm mad," Williams said, referring to the former owner of the Texas Rangers who in the 1970s used the phrase "I'm mad as hell" in radio commentaries.

The company that did the surveillance monitoring is about to be replaced.

Williams said he wants to get the pictures of the thieves out so that someone can turn them in.

The Fort Worth Police Department is investigating the thefts but declined to comment because the investigation is in its preliminary stages.

The stolen items are used in aircraft parts but do not pose a security risk. But the Pentagon was notified because the theft could slow production of some parts.

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