Monday’s Bomb Scare Was Caused by Drug User’s Container on Outside of U-Haul Truck

Suspect was arrested, later released on his own recognizance

Published : Tuesday, October 30, 2018 | 6:46 AM

Pasadena police released this photo of a container with drug paraphernalia inside which they said they found when they searched the residence of Theodore Bancarz, 34, in Glendale, Calif. during the investigation of what originally was considered a bomb threat at the U-Haul facility at 552 S. Raymond Avenue on October 29, 2018. Photo courtesy Pasadena Police

The suspicious package which convinced law enforcement they might be dealing with a functioning live bomb in West Pasadena Monday night was in fact a magnetized container placed on a U-Haul truck by a drug user to carry his drugs and paraphernalia, authorities said this morning.

The device looked enough like a real bomb to trigger street closures, a voluntary 10-block evacuation and a call for assistance to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s bomb squad.

Technicians neutralized the device and determined it had not contained explosives.

An overnight led to the person who returned the U-Haul truck to the facility where the device was reported to police.

That subject was identified as Theodore Bancarz, a 34-year-old Glendale, Calif. resident. Investigators contacted Bancarz at his residence and he was arrested for two misdemeanor drug warrants.

Bancarz denied the device was hazardous, telling investigators it was commonly utilized to secrete his drugs and paraphernalia outside of a vehicle by way of magnets when he was in transit.

A search of the suspect’s residence revealed a similar container that enclosed drugs and paraphernalia.

Bancarz was arrested for drug violations and released on a citation to appear in Pasadena Court on January 29, 2019.

Pasadena Police Chief John Perez said earlier that about 5:40 p.m. Monday police received a report of a suspicious package attached to the back of a truck in a U-Haul facility parking lot at 552 South Raymond Avenue.

Responding officers determined the appearance of the package indicated it might be an actual explosive device.

A City spokesperson said police began voluntary evacuations in a half-mile radius around the intersection of Raymond Avenue and California Boulevard, which included the KPCC public radio building, a homeless shelter, children’s school, two markets, and many other businesses.

A number of streets were also shut down, including South Raymond Avenue and South Arroyo Parkway between Del Mar Blvd. and California Blvd.

A Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department bomb squad equipped with a robot was called to the scene.

The robot appeared to lift the device from the back bumper of a parked U-Haul truck and place it on the ground near a base of a light standard. Two bomb squad officers then place blast-absorbing sandbag-type objects around the device.

At about 9 p.m., the robot fired a projectile at the suspected device. There was no secondary explosion, which indicated the device was not a functioning bomb.

A sweep of the area for any other devices was conducted and no other suspicious devices were located.

During the incident, officers from the Burbank and Glendale Police Departments also assisted the Pasadena Police and Fire departments. Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also on scene.

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