Alarm clock in package triggers a bomb scare

By Sharon Salyer

Herald Writer

LAKE STEVENS — The post office was evacuated. City streets were blocked off. Several nearby businesses were emptied. And the Washington State Patrol’s bomb squad was summoned.

All that unfolded Monday after a package emitting a suspicious beeping sound was discovered at the post office at 1709 Main St.

Although the story has a happy — and benign — ending, Police Chief Randy Celori said it serves as a good reminder about taking precautions when sending electronic objects in the mail.

Police arrived at 8:39 a.m. and found a package addressed to a Lake Stevens resident with a return address of Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.

"Once the officer determined it was emitting a beeping nose, the post office was evacuated," Celori said.

Officers advised people to leave a nearby chiropractor’s office and training center, a small apartment complex and the glass-enclosed portion of the Lake Shore Inn.

"We basically shut down a city block surrounding the post office," Celori said.

While the bomb squad was being summoned, police contacted the person to whom the package was addressed.

The woman, who was not identified, had just completed her initial Air Force training in Texas. She had returned to Lake Stevens on vacation and had sent home a package with some of her belongings, the police chief said.

The woman told police what was in the package and gave permission for officers to open it and check its contents. Among her personal belongings was the source of the beeping — an alarm clock.

Even before last year’s terrorist attacks, a similar incident may have trigged a similar emergency response, Celori said.

"We need to be a little cautious on what we send in the mail," he said. "Alarm clocks or toys could let off certain noises that may alarm people."

You can call Herald Writer Sharon Salyer at 425-339-3486

or send e-mail to salyer@heraldnet.com.

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