Man Arrested After Shotgun Booby Traps Found on Property

The former owner of a decrepit north Philadelphia industrial site was arrested Monday in connection with booby traps set up to deter burglars seeking scrap metal, police said.

Police were helping evict the man and his wife Monday morning when he told him he had booby-trapped the building. The bomb squad responded and the man showed police two non-functional trip-line devices intended to set off repacked shotgun shells loaded with plastic pellets and gunpowder, Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan said.

Officers cleared the scene, but returned later in the day when one of the new owners was hit in the back with one of the pellets after tripping a device while looking at another part of the four-acre, 10-building complex, Sullivan said.

The man was not seriously injured and did not go to the hospital, Sullivan said. Sullivan likened the pellets to non-lethal rounds that police use in training and said they could cause injury.

"If you were hit in a sensitive part of your body, it could make that go up from a sting to a serious injury," Sullivan said.

Three other functional devices were found in the complex Monday. Sullivan said the former owner had inserted one of the devices, which he described as "sophisticated," from the outside through the brick wall on the perimeter of one of the buildings.

Sullivan said the complex is a "treasure trove" for scrappers and the devices were set up to deter them.

The dilapidated condition that the complex is in could prolong the search for more devices when police return Tuesday, Sullivan said.

"It's dangerous to be in there," Sullivan said. "It's extremely unsanitary and it is just loaded with vehicles, equipment, scrap the work environment is not safe."

The former owner faces reckless endangerment and simple assault charges. Police aren't releasing the identity of the man until he is formally charged.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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