Donated ‘paperweight’ turns out to be grenade, temporarily shutting Abbotsford businesses

Donating items can be a good way to promote sustainability, but police in Abbotsford are reminding you to double-check what you’re dropping off after an unusual item prompted a lockdown at a thrift store.

Const. Art Stele says police received calls from a thrift store on South Fraser Way near Clearbrook Road just after 3 p.m. Monday, with an employee saying they had received what appeared to be some sort of explosive device.

The staff member had been going through some donations when they came across the item, which was later identified as a decommissioned WWII Mills Grenade.

“Immediately they called 911 as it’s quite concerning, it’s not something that they see on a regular basis, thank goodness,” Stele explained.

The employee was told to leave the device and officers were dispatched to the area, which was evacuated and cordoned off, Stele adds.

“Any time we get a report of any kind of weapon or explosive device, which … we do not receive often, we handle it with an abundance of caution and mitigate any kind of public risk,” he told CityNews.

Photos of the grenade were provided to the RCMP’s Explosives Disposal Unit (EDU), which Stele says later deployed specialized members and gear.

“It looked like a real grenade, it was a real grenade, however, the explosive parts of that grenade had been removed and decommissioned, thankfully,” the Abbotsford constable said.

“They rendered the device, which was at that time confirmed to be, in fact, a dismantled WWII Mills Grenade, and that was taken care of.”

He adds police were also able to track down the donor, “who was shocked, apologetic, and said, inadvertently, they had donated this ‘paperweight’ that was in their family’s possession for quite some time.”

Businesses and the area were shut down for about five hours, with police reopening the scene around 8 p.m.

Stele says while this kind of thing doesn’t happen often, it’s a good reminder for people to ensure they know what they have in their possession and what they are donating.

It’s unclear how the grenade ended up in the donor’s possession, however, Stele says these kinds of things can be found in military surplus stores.

“If persons have items that look like weapons, bombs, or grenades to be mindful of that because other persons can interpret that to be something that is the real thing,” Stele added.

No charges are being recommended.

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