Rash of plastic bottle bombs reported in Beaufort

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMarch 15, 2013 

Plastic-bottle bombs have exploded in some Beaufort-area neighborhoods this week, prompting an investigation by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Five incidents have been confirmed in yards on Ratel Drive and Satilla, Roosevelt and Cherry boulevards, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Residents reported hearing loud explosions that sounded like gunshots and finding plastic bottles filled with a grayish liquid.

The Sheriff's Office warns residents to be careful with these devices, also known as mailbox bombs, acid bombs, Drano bombs, works bombs, pressure bombs and MacGyver bombs.

They are made with household chemicals and look like discarded trash. But the chemicals create a volatile buildup that can go off with slight movement, according to the Sheriff's Office. The explosions are strong enough to sever fingers and limbs and cause second- and third-degree burns.

"It would be terrible if a little kid is in their yard and picks it up," Sgt. Robin McIntosh said.

The bottles might look slightly swollen or melted and will have a little liquid inside. They frequently contain pieces of aluminum foil and metal such as nails or ball bearings.

The Sheriff's Office does not have any suspects or a motive for the bombs. All the reports are in the same area, and it's possible children are doing it as a prank, McIntosh said.

"Obviously, what one person might think of as a prank might have serious consequences," she said.

The contents of the bottles have not been determined yet.

The Sheriff's Office cautions residents not to touch or move the bottles. If one is found, a 200-foot radius around it should be cleared, and law enforcement officers should be called so explosives professionals can respond.

The bombs often are made as pranks by teens, but they can be dangerous to the people making them, as well as the people who find them.

Creating, distributing or detonating the bombs is a felony.

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