PASADENA (CBSLA) – A man has been arrested after a suspicious device discovered at a U-Haul facility in Pasadena, which forced evacuations for hours Monday night, turned out to be a storage container for drug paraphernalia.
Theodore Bancarz, 34, of Glendale, was taken into custody Tuesday on two misdemeanor drug counts, according to Pasadena police. He was booked and released.
At 5:40 p.m., police were called regarding a suspicious package attached to the rear bumper of a rental truck in the U-Haul facility parking lot in the 500 block of South Raymond Avenue.
Surrounding streets were closed and several nearby businesses, including KPCC Radio and the LAist website, were evacuated. Some residences and a homeless shelter were also evacuated.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad responded and used a robot to detonate the device at around 9 p.m., which was determined not to be explosive or dangerous. It was later determined to be an empty plastic container attached to the truck’s bumper with magnets.
“It was simply a plastic container that had magnets on it, and the magnets he used to attach to his vehicle to carry around his drugs and his drug paraphernalia,” Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson told CBS2 Tuesday.
“It’s a common thing that drug addicts use, such as a hide-a-key.”
Investigators learned that Bancarz had returned the truck the U-Haul facility after renting it and forgotten to remove the container. They went to his home, where they found another similar such container which contained cocaine, methamphetamine and syringes. Police released a photo of that container and its contents.
“The device was about six-to-eight inches in length,” interim Pasadena Police Chief John Perez told reporters Monday night. “It did look like a device to the bomb squad. There was some wiring, there was some taping, enough for them to decide that in fact it looked like a real device. It was an open device, just contained with the mechanics of what a device would look like and it was attached to the back of a vehicle.”
During the detonation, the northbound 110 Freeway at Fair Oaks Avenue was also closed as a precaution. Metro Gold Line train service was interrupted between Memorial Park Station and South Pasadena stations.
The Pasadena Fire Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also assisted in the investigation.
Bancarz is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 29.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)