Dozens of bomb squad calls lead to explosives recovery - Tucson News Now

Dozens of bomb squad calls lead to explosives recovery

One of the robots used by bomb squad. (Source: Tucson News Now) One of the robots used by bomb squad. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Pima County Regional Bomb Squad has handled 83 calls to investigate suspicious items this year.  According to the supervisor, 25 of those calls led to explosives recovery.

Following explosions in New York and New Jersey, Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos is urging the public to call 911 if they see something that doesn't look right.  Nanos says the bomb squad is ready to investigate any and all calls.

Bomb squad supervisor, Sgt. Christopher Rogers, says they use five bomb robots to help investigate suspicious package calls.  The potentially dangerous devices are getting more complex.

“Extremist publications have detailed instructions on how to configure these devices so the information is more readily accessible now," says Rogers.

One of the largest robots is Francisco, a 7-year-old robot equipped with five cameras and capabilities to pick up and move items, helping investigators get a good luck while standing up to a mile away for safety.  Francisco costs more than $300,000 and is provided through grant funds.

Rogers says a Tucson teen was recently convicted after being caught testing out devices similar to those found in New York and New Jersey.  He says the teen sparked a fire, border patrol responded, and called the bomb squad which obtained enough information to serve a search warrant.

“We recovered copious amounts of evidence including final product home made explosives, precursor chemicals, electronic components such as cell phones, family radios, circuit boards," says Rogers.

Investigations rely heavily on tips from the public, says Rogers.  Because bomb-making instructions can be found easily, anyone can be handling hazardous materials that can cause a disaster.

“We get calls from 88-CRIME and other sources identifying suspicious behaviors, and that really is the key to this.”

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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