Police disarm rail ‘torpedo’ in storage area

Posted May 13, 2009, at 11:28 p.m.

The Bangor Police Department’s bomb squad was called to an outer Stillwater Avenue home Wednesday after a resident found a suspicious device in a storage area.

The device turned out to be a railroad torpedo, according to Bangor police Sgt. Bob Bishop.

Though not a bomb, the device was rendered inoperable by Bangor police Lt. Mark Hathaway, Bishop said.

Now considered obsolete, railroad torpedoes, also called detonators, once were used as a warning signal to train operators.

According to several online reference sites, the devices are filled with detonating powder and are about the size of a large coin with a lead strap on each side.

The torpedoes were placed atop rails so that they would emit a loud bang when the train passed over them, alerting engineers of possible trouble ahead. (Dawn Gagnon, BDN)

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With warm weather finally here, more and more people — including thieves — are out on city streets.

As a result, Bangor police have been fielding a steady stream of car burglary complaints, including three on Wednesday, according to a Penobscot Regional Communications Center incident summary report issued for that day.

Wednesday’s report also showed two vehicle break-in complaints in Hampden.

Bangor police Sgt. Bob Bishop said Wednesday that the items most often taken include spare change, electronics, pocketbooks and other small items.

Bishop said vehicle burglaries often can be prevented. He reminded residents to lock their vehicles, especially overnight, if they don’t want their belongings stolen. (Dawn Gagnon, BDN)

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