Pipe prompts police probe

Sunday, September 7, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:14 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

An abandoned piece of PVC pipe across the street from a construction site got the attention of the Columbia Police Department mid-day Saturday.

The object in question brought members of the Columbia Police Department, including an explosives expert, and the Columbia Fire Department to the back parking lot of the Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S. Ninth St., to investigate.

Four police cars blocked Elm Street between Eighth and Ninth streets for more than an hour during the investigation after an anonymous caller reported a suspicious object.

The pipe got special attention because it had duct tape on both ends, police said.

“It is strange to have a piece of pipe with duct tape on it,” said Capt. Zim Schwartze.

Upon contacting construction site owner Bob Woods Excavation, police learned the pipe had been used as an ashtray during workers’ breaks, Schwartze said. It is unknown how the pipe rolled into the parking lot.

Explosives investigator Cory Bowden said that in the past, if suspicious devices were found to be explosive, the Missouri Highway Patrol was called in to handle the situation.

In this case, officers and construction site officials moved the benign pipe back to the construction site.

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