I was asked to attend to a burglary scene at a retail unit, but this burglary wasn’t your typical one. For starters, I didn’t expect to see the Fire Brigade there. A cordon had been put across the town centre with fire crew guarding the building. Unusual, as this is normally done by the Police.
Both Police and the Fire Brigade had been inside the building, and had both come to the same conclusion - powdered explosives may be present inside one of the offices. Everyone had backed away until my arrival.
I spoke with my manager over the phone and he came up with a great plan - ‘Stick your head in Chris and see what you think’. I slowly made my way upstairs, above the shop and into the staff area. Before making the tip-toe journey, I turned all my phones off as a precaution. It’s something I picked up from my explosives training. Another thing I picked up was sending a robot in rather than myself! But into the scene I went.
Behind the door at the top of the stairs was where the office with explosives was located. It felt like I was entering Narnia for the first time!
The room was a mess inside, with powder all over the place. A worktop had been overturned, which a Police Officer had described to be used ‘as a shield’ by the person wielding the explosives. Near to the worktop was a safe, with a square hole cut out. Once the metal exterior was cut through, a circular hole was made on the inner safe wall.
Below is an image of the counter, or ‘shield’, which was positioned opposite the safe.
It didn’t take me long to figure this one out. Near to the safe was a fire extinguisher, a POWDER fire extinguisher.
Just to be sure, I studied the nozzle of the extinguisher, which was facing away from the safe. The nozzle revealed the same colour powder to that on the floor. This also showed that it had been used, although this couldn’t be dated. As it was facing away from the scene where the explosion may have occurred, the nozzle would’ve been protected from the small blast, and unlikely that particles of powder should enter the nozzle.
It was suggested the ‘explosives’ had been used to force open the safe. Now that’s a very straight cut on the outer metal casing for explosives, perhaps an angle grinder was used?
The circular hole to the safe appeared as though it had been forced with a different item. Something hard, with a circular base.
Damage to the base of the fire extinguisher suggested this was the tool used to force open the inner wall of the safe.
As for the ‘shield’, I guess the counter was overturned to allow access to the safe. Would be a bit annoying having a counter over your head as you’re trying to angle grind something.
This scene was the perfect example of how every CSI needs to have a clear mind and fresh approach to a scene, taking into consideration what others have told you but not being lead by anything other than the evidence.
I’ll end on that cheesy CSI Miami style paragraph.