Stockton, CA inert big-ord. collection seized

They never react very well in California when it comes to finding a house full of bombs & mortars. I think law enforcement knows full well that these are inert collections 99.9% of the time, but due to the presence of cartels in the area, they have a renewed respect for live hand grenades and M72 LAW rockets in recent years. The directory does not list any IAA member in Stockton, so I’m not sure who it could be.

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Yes, this is typical media reporting.
It was very likely an ordnance collector, exactly like many of us.
If my house is ever searched, they will go nuts when then enter my garage; as I have a pair of 16 inch projectiles, a 11 inch projectile along with a bunch of 8 inch, 6 inch, 5 inch, 4 inch and 3 inch in there.
At least my local Sheriff knows about my collection of ordnance, cartridges and firearms.
Hopefully that would prevent something like this from happening to my family.
If you have a pro gun Sheriff, I would suggest you have a talk with him concerning your collection, to avoid things like this happening to you.

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“for all that is good and holy please put ALL of them in the san andreas fault and detonate them”

Sorry John Moss and others in that wacky state, but wouldn’t the above just make CA a nutty island? As long as I get time to warn my son and the few other “good” Californians, that might not be such a bad idea. Any fault lines around NJ, NY, VA, MA, or CT?

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DK - first point, civilian bomb squads are not trained in military ordnance. Beyond the most common items their recognition and understanding is very low. This is why military EOD is called in. But even military EOD has moved significantly from ordnance to more IED activities and has lost a level of capacity on recognition of many ordnance items and the hazards that they may present. So the primary task has to be public safety. Isolate and identify then deal with the hazards you are able to recognize.
Second, in fact in my experience very few collections are inert and free from hazard. In some cases it may not be a violation of the law, but that does not make it safe. In other cases the collectors believe it is safe, and are mistaken. Only a few weeks ago I visited an elderly collector in the Midwest. I convinced him to allow me to take the railroad torpedoes and white phosphorus that I observed with me, the live shrapnel projectiles (3) he wanted to keep. He is in his 80s and also alone (like the case under discussion). When he passes I hope that the police are astute enough to recognize these hazards and any others that I didn’t see, and to also take effective action to prevent personnel from being injured.

I am an avid collector and like many collectors I am very protective of my rights to maintain my collection. But I also have observed dozens and dozens of cases where hazardous items were in collections that were a significant hazard to both the collectors and the people around them. With no disrespect I disagree the statements in your post and believe that it does a disservice to the efforts of the law enforcement personnel caught in the middle and doing the best that they can, while putting themselves at risk.

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Redcoats gonna do redcoat stuff.

Sad.

-CBA

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Matt,
sorry if I came across a bit too harshly, it was not intended to be directed at you specifically. I received a couple of PM comments from another member, and as I mentioned to him, prior to viewing this thread I had just had a visit from a State Police bomb tech, and we had discussed a similar (much smaller in scale) local incident from the week before. I was probably a little over-primed for the discussion and you opened the door.

The truth is that these incidents occur much more often than forum members will ever realize. I am frequently consulted by my local squads to assist in identification and determination of hazards, and while I do not see all calls, this slow time of year I still average at least one call for support a week. Many of these are in/from collections, many are live.

I visit many collectors, estate sales, militaria and gun shows and on average I see approximately 1 live piece (or components) for every 20 I look at. If the owner is willing to release it I take control and see that it is turned over to the proper office for safe disposal. No names necessary, the turn-over is done in my name. This happens 20-40 times per year, and has included hundreds of hazardous items. If the owner is not willing to part with it they are cautioned on the safety and legal issues and I walk away. From that point forward they are informed, and their actions can no longer be claimed to be based on ignorance.

The amounts and types of hazardous materials would amaze you. Yet in my area, law enforcement frequently makes every effort afterward to return items identified as safe to the collectors, the museums, and the family members. This is not always the best choice in my opinion, and there have been occasions where the same item has resulted in three calls in two years, at which point it is (hopefully) not returned. At the same time we have had incidents where law enforcement has been reluctant to reach out for assistance (0200 in the morning) and officers have inadvertently moved highly hazardous live items.

I believe that many of the typical forum comments (not only this forum) are based on erroneous new reporting, ignorance of actual events, and the tendency to fear our collecting may be in danger. Still, after working with so many of these people and seeing “behind the curtain” I have a tendency to bristle at comments like “knows full well” and “red coats”. The techs I work with and support are professionals and I have the highest respect for them.

Again, no offense intended. I wish I could do a presentation for SLICS on the subject, but I would be fearful of the effect it would have on ordnance being allowed in the door at the show.

JO

They had such a presentation at the SLICS show either last year or the year before. Time goes by so fast for me now that I cannot remember which one it was. It was a good presentation, involving a very large collection.

The problem some of us have is more with the news media than with the police. I guarantee if all of the items in the case at hand are proven harmless, there will be no follow up in the leftist press here in California. I do think, though, that if the police are going to assume responsibility for cases like this, they should have people well-versed in all types of destructive devices. Ignorance breeds contempt for authority. We see ignorance and downright stupidity in Government so often, that those of us that sincerely back and appreciate LE that we expect more from them, and I do not believe that is unfair. I am not anti-police at all. My son is a retired CHP Officer, and I have a couple in South Australia that I consider nothing less than my “Ozzie kids,” the husband being a retired South Australia Police Office. After my wife passed away, a dear friend, that again I considered to be like a son to me, and a brother to my own son, came to live with me. He was a San Francisco Police Officer, who passed away too early in life while on duty, two years ago.

I give this information lest I be thought to have a dislike for the Police. They perform an essential role in society, and for the major part are conscientious, honorable men and women doing their best for the public. However the public has a right to expect them to be knowledgeable in any task they perform. Again, ignorance breeds contempt. It is a failure of the upper echelons of the various agencies of government for not providing the training necessary to handle any situations necessary, including special training to officers charged with handling special situations.

Of course the press in America is, by and large, far beyond the point of simple contempt by any intelligent, reasonable standard, and actually play a huge role in the division of our nation, the worst schism in our country since the Civil War of 1860-65, and perhaps even more insidious that that great tragedy was.

Just my thoughts on the subject. As with USSubs, there is not intention on my part to insult anyone (other than the press), including Police. They can only do well what their training prepares them for, and that is usually beyond the power of the rank and file of police agencies to control.

John Moss

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Fantastic idea. Could it be done with pictures?

John,
I did the presentation, it was on the cleanup of the Bill Woodin collection. A similar beginning to the situation, but with an effort to do a thorough identification and removal prior to law enforcement or military involvement. While we did remove a significant number of items, law enforcement and the military were content with our actions (in regard to the collection) and did not disturb the collection any further.

John
I absolutely agree that the media are mostly to blame because of looking for impact with their stories.
When I had my relatively large collection for the time, the Army learnt about it and sent a Senior Ammunition Technical Officer to interview this civilian with so much military SAA. After that discussion I received nothing but respect. In fact when the top cop in the firearms division was going to section an Italian 7.7 he was referred to me. When he described the indentations in the nose I was able to tell him immediately it was an Incendiary loading. What he did after that I don’t know.

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Mayhem,
you miss my point. It is not about visual aids, it is the discussion itself that could be threatening.

I am extremely careful with my collection. I constantly examine my items to identify any potentially live items that might have slipped in. I know many conscientious collectors that do the same. But identification of military ordnance is not a simple thing, and takes years of training to do in even a basic manner. So mistakes are made by eager collectors. Generally they are minor, and with the right attitude then can be easily and safely resolved. But an open discussion of this subject is like discussing mass shootings. How do you do it and control problems without provoking an over reaction that threatens the hobby that you love? An honest, open presentation of this sort could be eye-opening for attendees at the show. It could also get ordnance banned from the show. Better (in my opinion) that we continue to nudge in threads like these, police our own collections and show and keep a reasonable eye and control through education and rational discussion.

I get your point but it was the statement below that initially made me think you were worried about you bringing in items.

On reading it again, I now see that you are talking about the knock-on effect on people bringing items to the show to sell. I still think it is a very good idea for a seminar.

Jeff is very right when he considers “malicious thoughts” of people who are unaware of the subject.
Often it is better not to have the attention of clueless dogooders and gut feeling driven people!
Our problem today is not legal issues or law enforcement but unbidden “opinions” (which due to our leftish media have way too much of a stage).
And many of these people do confuse their opinions with knowledge (thanks to our degrading school systems).

Or as we say in Germany: “never wake up sleeping dogs”.
And along the same line: “when dumbness/ignorance gets eager”.

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USSubs

I like to section most of the INERT specimens in my collection. For one, I personally like sectioned rounds and the abilitly to see all of the engineering design that goes into them. Second, I always hoped that by having them sectioned, it would make things easily obvious to any official inspections, that everything was nonfunctional and free from energetics. Do you think that having the collection in cutaway form is indeed helpful to local LEO’s and EOD personal if their eyes were ever called upon to inspect / judge or review the collection?

Jason

Jason,
no doubt. Bing able to see the internals and void areas immediately relieves any pressure on the teams and should answer any of their questions in regard to safety. In this you are in the minority however. While many of us enjoy the occasional cutaway, we also like our intact pieces. Just be sure that your intact ones can be easily (finger, not wrench) opened and examined and you can greatly reduce the odds against you.

I asked a couple of relatively local folk it they had heard anything about this. One who is a forensics scientist & bullet collector had this to say.
BTW: That Stockton, CA situation where the home owner passed away and 100’s of explosives were found. Well, he was a collector and they were inert/replicas/dummies. I watched a follow-up news story where they interviewed a local military EOD guy. The footage showed some of the EOD guys carrying away items.

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Figures! We had an incident in southern AZ not long ago where police were called, homes evacuated, streets closed, bomb squad deployed, etc… for several INERT (holes in the bottom) cast iron WW2 pineapple grenades. I used to see 100s of these in crates for a couple bucks each at Mil-Surp stores growing up - now the bomb squad is called to your home.

We also had an incident in Tucson recently where a Mexican Drug Cartel family had a killing (supposedly an accident)… cops found multiple LIVE RPGs, full-auto AKMs, drugs, money, etc. That was covered by a 30 second story - highlighted with “no arrests have been made at this time”… but dummy/inert WW2 grenades got several minutes for several days - before they finally admitted the “explosive devices were harmless”.

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Joe, do images of the RPGs, i.e. the PGs (ammo) exist somewhere?

Has any of these law enforcement groups attempted to trace these items even if they were inert?

No explosives identified in the collection. Numerous live rocket motors, flares, smoke, which were removed and destroyed. The girlfriend reported that no family members had been in contact for over 10 years and requested that the inert items be retained by EOD for training, said that the deceased would have liked that. Police had no interest in the non-energetic items once they were identified as inert.

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