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Posted on Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

Police warn of pop bottle bombs left in yards in York Township

By Amalie Nash

At least two "works" bombs were left in the yards of York Township residents overnight, creating a dangerous situation since the pop bottle bombs quickly detonate, police said.

Washtenaw County Sheriff's Deputy Keith Mansell sent a warning to township residents this morning, urging them not to pick up any bottles that have liquid in them or appear swollen.

Mansell said he was dispatched to a home on Bemis Road near the Saline city limits this morning for an unexploded pop bottle bomb. When he arrived, he discovered a 20-ounce bottle in the yard, moved it from the front yard, and it detonated 30 seconds later, he said in the e-mail.

Mansell then checked other yards and located a second one a few doors down from the first one, he said. He moved that one, and it also detonated, the e-mail said.

The homeowner told Mansell she noticed the bottle and planned to move it when she got her morning paper. "There was a high probability that this would have detonated in her hand/face while she carried it to the trash," Mansell said in the e-mail.

A "works" bomb is described as Drano and foil mixed inside a bottle. The chemical reaction makes a volatile build-up of gases and subsequently detonates the bottle with a great amount of force, with the chemical substance in the bottle becoming boiling liquid at that point, the e-mail said.

The explosion can be severe enough to cause second- or third-degree burns or blindness, Mansell said in the e-mail.

Mansell urged residents to watch for bottles in their yards and offered the following advice:

  • If you find a soda bottle or any other bottles, examine it carefully before you touch it or get near it. If it shows signs of swelling or melting in any way, do not touch it. Call 911.
  • If you find a soda bottle that has any liquid in it, don't touch it and call 911.

Both bombs this morning appeared to be slightly swollen, with a dark colored liquid inside of it, the e-mail said. The liquid could have easily been mistaken for leftover soda, according to the e-mail.

If someone is caught making such a device, it is a felony of possession of a substance with explosive capabilities punishable by up to 15 years in prison if no damage is caused and 20 years if damage is caused. The penalties are more severe if injuries occur, including a mandatory life sentence if someone is killed, police said.

Anyone with information on the "works" bombs can call the sheriff's tip line at 734-973-7711.


Diego Morse

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

I know this is old discussion but I know the person who did this. i believe he may do it again soon. He and his friends showed me what he was doing. I dont know what to do and I am sure I dont want this to happen again. This boy has problems

Stacy L Revells

Sat, Jun 26, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

I really do not understand some of the comments that I am reading, all I know is that my child is very important to me, and I do not want this to happen to him or his friends. So instead of bitching at the reporter who wrote the story, how about we thank him/her for warning us to tell our children and our neighbors about the dangers these bombs can cause!

Joe Bushnell

Fri, May 28, 2010 : 10:51 a.m.

As an operator of a Materials Recovery Facility or Recycling Center, this type of incident brings a whole new level of concern to the safety and wellbeing of my employees. Its not enough to deal just with sharps, live ammunition and lap top batteries crushed together under the pressure of the baler and then igniting the bales on fire. Now we have to deal with IEDs. Not good.

Corey Fellabaum

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 6:24 p.m.

The Tip Line Number is Wrong Tip Line (Confidential) (734) 973-7711 From


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 6:18 p.m.

I find it highly irresponsible to put the basic recipe for this type of bomb in print where people who wish to do others harm may find it. I am sure the article would have been complete and correct without that detail, and I'm shocked if the publisher doesn't agree. Warn people about bottles, yes, but the contents should have been concealed. As a parent, I definitely would not want my teen reading this! I am appalled.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

@Dading: AHAHAHA! I'm 14 months from 60 years old and every time I see this on TV I say to myself "GOTTA do this!" Only thing is, I always forget to put it on my grocery list!


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

I love that this officer is being praised as a hero. Works bombs don't have a "timing device". They begin the chemical reaction that produces hydrogen gas when the bottle is shaken. If they were shaken prior to being placed, they would have detonated within a minute. The only reason these exploded was because the police officer moved them. If they sit more than a few minutes and have not exploded, they can be deactivated by removing the bottle cap. The police are now going to get a call for every pop bottle left in a public place


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

It does not matter how young, how old these people are. Find out who they are and throw the book at them! This is a serious matter and should be treated as such! Call in the FBI if need be but find the perps and prosecute them. Offer a big reward, interview all the students with their parents present. It sounds like a lot of work, however it is very important that the perps be apprehended. If someone got hurt or killed by one of these devices the law suits would be flying. So catch them before someone gets hurt.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

First Deputy Mansell picks off drunk driving attorneys, now he is a one man bomb squad! I'm sure glad he works in my township. Keep up the great work...


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 11:04 a.m.

I have to agree with WillisWoman. People are so quick to dismiss things like this - until they - or their child gets hurt. I think it's good that they posted the contents of these bottle bombs - it helps to know what type of chemicals are involved if a person does get splattered or burned by one of these 'bombs' if you have to render first aid immediately. No matter WHO is doing it - it's wrong and they should be prosecuted.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

I am sorry but I don't see any assembly instructions in this article. What I do know is that the state police take this issue very seriously. If anyone sees some type of unusual behavior that they feel needs police attention, please do not hesitate to call. Whether it be a person walking throught parked cars in the dark or someone putting pop bottles in your lawn... the criminal mind is tough to understand. Let the police handle all explosive issues. I have seen plenty of burns and would hate to hear about this story from that perspective. Unless "justice" means the bomb going off too soon for the maker.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Thanks for this article and the warning! This could be really harmful to kids that may be doing a service project and picking up litter and come across one of these. I'll definitely talk with my kids about not picking up any bottles.

Rabid Wolverine

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

These "bombs" don't ahve a timer on them. Their rate of detonation is purely based upon the contents being shaken, not time delay. The only reason it exploded is because the officer picked it up without taking the cap off....


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

I don't think this is a "slow news day item" or an over reaction at all. We have all seen what something as innocuous as "fertilizer" did in Oklahoma City. This is serious. I suspect that Timothy McVeigh started out experimenting with stuff like this before graduating to the more serious stuff. Not saying that these actions will be followed up like that. The fact is however, had either of these exploded 30 seconds earlier this would have been a completely different story.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

Yeah....probably not the best idea to give the instruction on how to make a potentially deadly chemical bomb!! The byproduct is hydrocloric acid spraying in all directios. It is a very powerful explosion--can be heard a mile away. It is no joke.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 12:03 a.m.

I am happy to hear that no one was injured by these bottle bombs. What is this world coming to. This is not even a prank. If Deputy Keith Mansell is on it, they will get caught. Hopefully before any gets hurts or even dies. This is scary.

Stefan Szumko

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 11:10 p.m.

I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't want to have a faceful of Drano or even have it on my hands. I'll be sure to think twice when I'm picking up litter. Thanks for the warning.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 10:14 p.m.

Baking soda, Vinegar, Mentos, Diet Coke or Drano? Hmm which of these might be the most caustic? Which of these is NOT normally ingested? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which one is more likely to be lethal! Any comparison is foolish!

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 9:21 p.m.

Actually, baking soda and vinegar can be used to make a bomb. It just requires a different sort of container and detonation mechanism. Lots of things can be used to make bombs. We don't need Drain-o control as much as people control.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 5:23 p.m.

Great Job Keith Mancell! I recieved your E-mail alert, and appreciate it. I will certainly be careful now, cleaning up my yard and along the road side. Perhaps when this person/persons get caught they can be put on the chain/gang to clean up the roads and streets in our Township.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 5:03 p.m.

"Don't be surprised if there is an increase in this type of problem now that they have, more or less, told people how to make them." "Give me a brake! How many of you think that the type of juvenile that does this reads Ann" The sad part is that these "bottle bombs" may not be something that a "juvenile" has done. Where in the report does it say juveniles are the culprits? Sadly, there are plenty of (and I use the term loosely) adults out there that do read the news AND are stupid enough to do these things.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

"Don't be surprised if there is an increase in this type of problem now that they have, more or less, told people how to make them." Give me a brake! How many of you think that the type of juvenile that does this reads Ann

dading dont delete me bro

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

@williswoman...that was a genuine question. i was not making light of the subjet. i seriously want to do the mentos and diet coke, but not if i may be a felon if caught. let me say caught again. i will have to do it somewhere NOBODY can see me.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

"Just another over reaction by people who think everything is terrorism." "so is mentos and diet coke a felony too?" I dunno. I guess things have changed. There was a time when spraying either lye or acid on people was considered a bad thing. In fact, we were such fuddy-duddies that we actually frowned on people leaving chemical bombs in areas where children might come across them. I guess this way, people who think they are just removing litter from their lawns can get a first-hand education in skin grafts and corneal transplants. Graphic images follow:


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

I love how everyone finds it ridiculous that this crime is considered a felony. If you or your child were to be blinded by such a bomb left in your yard, you wouldn't mind the felony charge. You can say otherwise, but put yourself in that siutation.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

or vinigar and baking soda?

dading dont delete me bro

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 3 p.m.

so is mentos and diet coke a felony too?


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 1:34 p.m.

Does anyone else find it a complete lack of "common sense" to report the contents in which these "works" bottle bombs were made? I am at a loss as to WHY they would tell someone HOW to make them! Don't be surprised if there is an increase in this type of problem now that they have, more or less, told people how to make them. Hope the ERs are ready for the idiots that attempt to make them and it backfires on them!


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

@loki I really,really hate to defend but I've known how to make those for 20yrs way before the internet.And if someone can read the article they obivously have a computer and internet and can easyily look it up


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 1:06 p.m.

hmm...draino + tin foil + pop bottle = irresponsible "journalism" at best. doesn't take a genius to figure out how they all work together.

Random Man

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

Truly a Slow news day to say the least. A couple of "Pop" bottle bomb's are more scary than the minivan/suv drivers on a cell phone working themselves in a tizzy over the manufactured panic? Really?


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

"These "bombs" are probably much less dangerous than the illegal fireworks your neighbors set off every year" You think the cars being set on fire are a joke also?


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

genericreg Maybr your kids. Do your homework! This is drano! Not baking soda! Would you let your kids play with drano?


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

Do kids not do this all the time any more? These "bombs" are probably much less dangerous than the illegal fireworks your neighbors set off every year - is there a 15-year mandatory sentence for those? Just another over reaction by people who think everything is terrorism.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

@lamusica I agree with you execpt your first point.The comlete is oppisite the chemicials used are things most people already have in their homes.There is not much effort in mixing them and tossing one out of a car.I think if they keep it up they'll end up hurting themselves


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 11 a.m.

This is scary for so many reasons. 1. Whoever is doing this is going to a lot of effort--getting the chemicals, mixing them, and then leaving them around. 2. They know the damage one of these can cause and don't care. 3. ANYONE could pick this up and get seriously hurt. I mean, kids could easily pick it up. What would happen if it rolled into the street and a car detonated it? (Not saying the bottle would explode the car, but it could cause a major accident because the driver gets distracted/scared from the noise). 4. These seem easy to make, and the longer this person gets away with doing this, the more they could make, and the more they could leave around. I hope the police catch these people/person before someone gets hurt.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 10:49 a.m.

If parents in the area see this article. I would urge them to talk to their children about this. There is someone out there that knows who is doing this. They may not "give up " their friends but maybe they can convince them to stop before it goes too far!

Joshua Panter

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

I remember watching MacGyver as a kid. He always left out at least one critical ingredient in his bombs... I understand that anyone with the ability to google can find out how to make one of these things, but putting the directions right in the


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

I know of an instance where some kids did this.Unfourtunley they did'nt know they put it on a ATF agents car