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Model airplane order concerns security authorities

A local hobby and crafts store manager called police last month after he received a suspicious order from a man in the Middle East for a large remote-control airplane to be delivered to New York, according to the Port Orchard Police Department.

Gary Rose Jr., the manager of Rose Crafts in the South Kitsap Mall, said he received separate orders for both the airplane and a monster truck on the same day through Hobbyoutlets.com, a Web site his store has been operating for the past year.

Rose said the orders, which were for an airplane that can carry up to 30 pounds of cargo and a truck that can tow a full-size pickup, seemed suspicious right away.

“The countries (where the people were ordering from) were suspicious — one was the (United Arab Emirates) and another was Ecuador,” Rose said, explaining that although the plane and truck were ordered separately, they were to be delivered to the same address in New York, and the customer’s first name was the same on each item.

Rose said he did not fill the orders, and when someone called Dec. 15 to inquire about them, he told him they could not be processed, then notified the police.

A source with the POPD said after contacting Rose he forwarded information about the orders to the FBI’s regional office in Seattle.

“It is suspicious enough to be a valid concern,” he said.

Special Agent Ray Lauer, a spokesman for the FBI, said his office was aware of the orders sent to Rose Crafts, but declined further comment.

Rose said an FBI agent contacted him, and he was instructed to notify his office if he receives any more suspicious orders.

Rose said he’s received four such orders since he started operating the Web site in November 2003.

He typically sells dozens of the planes and trucks a month.

Rose said the particular model of airplane costs $380 and can carry up to 30 pounds as is — and even more if the motor is upgraded.

It is also equipped with AFS, or Active Flight Stabilization, he said, which allows the plane to fly on its own if it travels beyond the operator’s range.

Rose said the truck ordered is a Traxxas 4WD Revo Monster Truck RTR, which costs $480 and only came on the market in June. He said it is only 14-inches tall, but has enough torque to pull a Chevy S-10 pickup a short distance from a dead stop.

Rose said he inspects each order and does not process any that raise his suspicions.

“Those orders could have been just a credit card scam or something else, but they just didn’t feel comfortable,” he said. “New York seems to get all the bad stuff.”

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