Reports of suspected pipe bombs brought officers with the Mounties’ Explosive Disposal Unit to South Surrey twice this week – once to a rural property and once to a gas station.
Police confirmed Thursday that one of the two turned out to be the real thing.
The first device was discovered by a worker at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, in a shed in the 18300-block of 24 Avenue. The worker was part of a team working with the RCMP’s Neighbourhood Liaison Unit and a property representative to tidy up the unoccupied site.
He “found a container, opened the container and noted an item that looked like a pipe bomb,” Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said.
EDU officers determined it was live, and used a remote-control robot to detonate it – an explosion that one area resident says took him by surprise.
“I was sitting in the living room reading my paper, and kabang! I was surprised the whole house didn’t come down,” said the resident, who didn’t want to be identified.
The man was frustrated that residents had not been forewarned of the blast – “somebody could have been killed here” – but Paquet said the notice wasn’t deemed necessary.
“The size of the item did not justify a mass evacuation,” he said. “It was so small, we knew it was going to make a bang and cause some vibration, but the EDU officer was confident… safety was not an issue.”
Paquet added the device “looked like it had been there for years.”
A subsequent search of the property and other buildings by the EDU and a police dog team did not locate anything else of concern.
Safety was a bigger concern Wednesday, when a suspected pipe bomb – a piece of pipe with wires sticking out of it – was found beside a PetroCan gas station at 152 Street and King George Boulevard just before 8 p.m.
“We recognized it to be something similar to what a pipe bomb looks like and immediately the store and surrounding area were evacuated,” Paquet said.
The gas station was cordoned off with police tape, and the southbound lanes on King George east of 152 Street were closed to traffic until the situation was resolved.
A remote-control robot – also equipped with a water cannon – was again used to trigger a detonation, only this time the device was a dud.
“We were able to confirm it was not an explosive device,” Paquet said, noting it is unclear how long the item had been there.
Investigators are reviewing video surveillance footage to try and identify who left it and why.
“It seems suspicious at the very least,” Paquet said, noting police are not aware of any recent threats.
It’s “not something we see very often around here, but definitely something we take seriously.”
Anyone with information on either incident may contact police at 604-599-0502.
Below: Video by Curtis Kreklau of suspected pipe bomb at gas station being detonated