Man arrested in connection with suspicious device found at Pasadena U-Haul lot

- Police on Tuesday announced the arrest of a Glendale man linked to a suspicious container attached to a rental truck at a U-Haul lot in Pasadena, which triggered evacuations and freeway and road closures but turned out to be a container for drug paraphernalia.

Theodore Bancarz, 34, was arrested at his home on two misdemeanor drug warrants and released on a citation ordering him to appear at the Pasadena courthouse on Jan. 29.

"Our investigators located the person who returned the truck (to the U-Haul lot),'' said Pasadena police spokesman Lt. Jason Clawson. ``It turns out the individual, Theodore Bancarz, had two outstanding drug warrants pending. Our investigators went to his Glendale residence and arrested him on those two
warrants.''

Bancarz, 34, denied the empty plastic container found affixed with magnets to the truck at 5:43 p.m. Monday was hazardous, ``telling investigators it was commonly utilized to secrete his drugs and paraphernalia outside of a vehicle by way of magnets when he was in transit,'' according to a Pasadena
police statement.

"Our detectives searched his residence and found a second container like the one that was on the truck,'' Clawson said. ``Inside the container they found several syringes and an amount of methamphetamine. Bancarz was given a citation for the drugs and syringes, a court date for January, and then released on his own recognizance since all the drug charges were misdemeanors.''

Interim Pasadena police Chief John Perez said the device found at the U-Haul lot in the 500 block of South Raymond Avenue ``was about six to eight inches in length. ...There was some wiring, there was some taping, enough for them (a sheriff's bomb squad) to decide that in fact it looked like a real device. It was an open device, just contained with the mechanics of what a device would look like and it was attached to the back of a vehicle.''

The area within a half-mile radius was evacuated as a precaution, and vehicle and pedestrian traffic was blocked on Del Mar Boulevard to the north, California Boulevard to the south, Pasadena Avenue to the west and Marengo Avenue to the east.

The investigation also prompted the closure of the Pasadena (110) Freeway at Fair Oaks Avenue for about an hour until around 9 p.m., when a sheriff's bomb squad rendered the item safe.

Metro halted Gold Line trains between the South Pasadena and Memorial Park stations during the investigation. Buses were used to shuttle passengers between the two stops.

The nearby offices of radio station KPCC and the LAist website in the 400 block of South Raymond Avenue were evacuated, both reported on Twitter.

In addition to Pasadena police and fire personnel and a sheriff's bomb squad, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were sent to the scene.

"We thank our neighboring public safety jurisdictions for their prompt assistance in this matter, along with cooperation of the public,'' Perez said. ``Out of an abundance of caution, we took appropriate measures to make sure public safety remained a top priority. Hopefully this quick arrest helps ease any concerns.''

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