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Here's another odd story involving Israelis detained by the U.S. authorities with video footage of U.S. skyscrapers. They have vanished into Federal custody. Hands up all those who have seen this story, or follow-ups, reported in your newspapers. . .

The Mercury

Pottstown, Philadelphia, October 17, 2001


Two found with video of Sears Tower

Special to The Mercury

PLYMOUTH -- Two men whom police described as Middle Eastern were detained in the township by federal immigration authorities after being found with detailed video footage of the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Plymouth Police encountered the men after an officer responded to Pizzeria Uno on the 1000 block of West Ridge Pike at 2:40 p.m. Thursday for a report of illegal dumping, according to reports.

A manager there advised the police officer that a tractor-trailer was observed backed up to the Dumpster at the rear of the restaurant. The manager noticed a freshly dumped pile of furniture adjacent to the Dumpster, according to police.

The manager confronted the vehicle's operator, a Middle Eastern man, police said.

The man, who later identified himself as Moshe Elmakias, 30, denied that he did anything and fled the scene, heading west on West Ridge Pike, according to police.

The manager was able to provide township police with the Florida registration number of the tractor-trailer and said that a sign posted on the side of the vehicle read "Moving Systems Incorporated" and included a phone number, police said.

The area was searched by township police, and the vehicle was spotted parked on the curb in front of John Kennedy Ford on Ridge Pike, just west of Industrial Way.

An officer proceeded to make contact with the occupants of the truck by knocking on the cab, according to reports.

A Middle Eastern man, later identified as Ron Katar, 23, exited the sleeper area of the cab and said that the operator was across the street as he pointed toward the Don Rosen Porsche dealer, reports said.

Elmakias and a white female, Ayelet Reisler, 23, were approaching the vehicle from the dealership, but the female then began walking in a different direction, acting as if she were not with Elmakias, according to reports.

Reisler was detained and checked for identification. She had a German passport in her name and medication in a different name, police said.

Plymouth Police Sgt. Thomas Longo was notified and responded to the incident.

Elmakias allegedly admitted to being behind Pizzeria Uno, although he said that he did not dump furniture, he was only turning around.

Elmakias said that his destination was New York and that he was also coming from New York. He said he was in Plymouth because he was supposed to make a pickup from a male in the morning and pointed toward the Storage USA facility on Belvoir Road and West Ridge Pike, police said.

Elmakias could not, however, provide a name or telephone number of the customer.

Township police dispatched a request for a Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program Inspector. Officer Gerald Schwartz of the Whitpain Police Department responded.

Schwartz discovered through his investigation that the operator's log had been falsified and put the truck out of service due to violations, police said. In addition, the vehicle reportedly had numerous equipment violations that rendered the truck unsafe.

Inspection of the tractor-trailer's contents revealed a load three-quarters full containing household items, including furniture and boxes.

Among the items in the truck was a Sony video camera.

Plymouth Police Officer David McCann reviewed the tape found inside the camera. The tape had video footage of Chicago with zoomed-in shots of the Sears Tower, according to police.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified of the incident and all three subjects were transported to the Plymouth Police station.

The subjects were then processed through the National Crime Information Center and placed into detention, according to the report.

FBI Agents James Sweeney and Richard Tofani arrived at the station and proceeded to investigate both the subjects and their belongings with the assistance of Immigration and Naturalization Services.

Elmakias and Katar were eventually detained by INS and transported to a federal facility, said police. Reisler was released.

All evidence collected by Plymouth and Whitpain officers was transferred to federal facilities with the exception of a VCR.

Special Agent Linda Vizi, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia FBI, could not be contacted for comment on further investigations.

©The Mercury 2001

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