Pawn shops have a reputation for buying the darnedest things, but missiles aren’t on the list, even if they’re antiques.
A customer learned that the hard way when he walked into a pawn shop in North Port, Florida, with a missile and asked how much it was worth.
The North Port Police Department said it was alerted to the potentially dangerous item around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17. The resulting chaos created hours of traffic jams when northbound traffic was rerouted so the U.S. Air Force could safely inspect the “suspicious item.”
“The device found turned out to be a WWI anti-ship personnel round which had never been fired,” police said. “An individual had attempted to sell the device at a nearby pawn shop who informed them that it could be dangerous. The individual then called NPPD.”
World War I ended in 1918, making the round at least 105 years old. It looked like it, too, with a photo showing the shell had the pitted appearance of corroded metal and rust on its cap.
Explosives experts with North Port, Sarasota and MacDill Air Force Base showed up, and the round was eventually taken “without incident” by the Air Force, police said.
The customer who tried to sell the weapon was not identified and the fate of the shell was not revealed. However, it is standard for military explosives teams to detonate unstable weapons from a safe distance.
A police Facebook post about the incident has gotten hundreds of responses, including some who noted the weapon was “dangerous memorabilia.”
“So out of curiosity — where did this individual find a WW1 explosive device?” Ben Skura posted.
North Port is about 85 miles south of Tampa.
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