During the past several days, our residents, particularly in the southwestern section of the township (often referred to as Megargee Heights), have endured reports of pipe bombs in their neighborhoods. It’s important for me to take this opportunity to ensure the community that we are doing everything in our power, in concert with our partnering law enforcement agencies, to identify the person(s) responsible and to restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of our families and businesses. We’ve received numerous calls from concerned citizens, many wondering if it’s safe to go outside. While the nonstop investigative work that occurs behind the scenes is not always readily apparent, residents can expect to see a significant increased police presence in an effort to alleviate some of their concerns and anxiety, and as a proactive measure to deter any further acts of this nature. This investigation is our number one priority.
Police departments strike a fine balance between providing specific details of a case, while at the same time trying to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation. Regardless, we have the responsibility to make the public aware of situations that threaten their safety, and not withhold information that could potentially place them at an even greater risk and/or add to their fears. At this point in the investigation we have no information to indicate that these acts are targeted at a specific individual or group of individuals. Nonetheless, our investigators will follow all leads to determine motive and to bring those responsible to justice. Additionally, while we have been describing these devices as “pipe” bombs, they were not actually constructed of metal or plastic pipe. Nonetheless, their appearance is similar and the devices that we recovered were capable of causing serious injury or death, and property damage.
In the meantime, please go about your daily routines with an added sense of vigilance for anything that seems unusual or suspicious. Trust your senses and call 911 even if the information seems trivial to you. Serious crimes are often solved based on tips from the public that allow police to connect the dots. I’ve spoken to several individuals this week who have heard the term “pipe bomb” but have never seen one, or even a photo of one. While not all pipe bombs appear exactly alike, please share the photos of the devices we recovered with your friends, neighbors, and children, so that one of these devices aren’t picked up or handled by anyone other than law enforcement or a trained bomb technician. The device that was discovered at Olive Street and 14th Avenue had a partial fuse that could have been lit by someone (particularly a child), and exploded, tragically resulting in death or serious injury. The actor(s) responsible for depositing the device at that location had lit the fuse but it extinguished before the device detonated.
We continue to stress the “See Something, Say Something” approach. Our department is operating on high alert, so please call 911 if you detect something suspicious or encounter a similar device. Please don’t attempt to handle it. You will be placing yourself and others at risk.
Joseph G. Elias
Chief of Police
On January 22, 2020 a caller reported an explosion in the area of the railroad underpass, at S. Caln Road and Olive Street, which occurred on Monday, January 20, 2020, around 3:00PM, approximately 24 hours before a postal carrier located an undetonated pipe bomb at 14th Avenue and Olive Street. The caller reported it to police after reading news reports of the pipe bomb that was discovered on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
Responding officers located a device near the railroad underpass that appears to have been detonated. No property damage in the area of the device was discernible. Both devices appear to be “homemade” and similar in size and construction. The locations are approximately ½ mile apart. Today, officers were again on location and have expanded their search of the area.
Police strongly encourage residents “who see something, to say something”, and to immediately call 911 if they observe a suspicious device. Please do not attempt to handle the device and maintain an extra safe distance. Only trained bomb technicians should render an explosive device safe.
Investigators have not identified a motive or suspects, and are asking anyone with information to contact the Caln Township Police Department at 610-383-1821.
Photo of device located by officers on January 22, 2020:
The Caln Township Police Department is investigating the discovery of a pipe bomb at 2:40PM today near the southwest corner of the intersection of 14th Avenue and Olive Street in the west end of the township.
A postal carrier observed the device and contacted police. Officers, with the assistance of fire police, established a containment zone pending arrival of the Montgomery County Bomb Squad. An off-duty FBI bomb technician also assisted at the scene.
The Bomb Squad took possession of the device, which appeared to be "homemade". The Criminal Investigation Division of the Caln Township Police Department is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call 610-383-1821.