An “elderly gentleman” carried a battered brown box littered with antiquated ammunition—including a World War II-era anti-tank round—into a police department Tuesday about 100 miles west of Chicago, giving the front desk clerk quite a scare.
Reached by telephone, Dixon police Lt. Clay Whelan said the man had an affiliation with a nearby gun range and brought the old ordinance to police to dispose of.
"Our front desk guy was like 'whoa, whoa, whoa, what's going on?!'" Whelan recalled.
After the man lifted the anti-tank round and "shook it," apparently to prove it was not going to explode at random, the police clerk calmed down, Whelan said. The explosives and bullets were then taken to a nearby garage and the bomb squad from Winnebago County was called in.
“If you find an unexploded WWII anti-tank round in your home, PLEASE, don't drive it to the police department in a cardboard box,” a Tuesday tweet from the Dixon Police Department reads.
A picture paired with the tweet shows a bent box containing what looks like six large spent casings, at least four clips of rifle rounds and a few loose bullets, as well as three other larger munitions—one of which is apparently the anti-tank round.
The department tweeted a second picture of a hazardous devices and explosives squad vehicle from the Winnebago Sheriff’s department.
“Call us and we will come to you to help dispose of it,” the police department tweeted, referring to any cardboard boxes of anti-tank rounds one might have lying about.
Whelan said he believes the bomb squad takes explosive items to a nearby quarry and detonates them with C4.
The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to request for comment.
Whelan said the shabbily transported ammunition was not the first time explosives were brought into the department.
“We got some shrapnel through our range facility from that previous incident,” he recalled, though he said he could not remember what the explosive device was.
The initial photo from the Dixon Police Department was retweeted nearly 2,000 times.
Whelan said the person who operates the department's Twitter account has a "good sense of humor," and plenty of others appear to agree.
At least two other police departments responded with tweets of their own showing inert or older explosives.
"We feel you on that," one Florida department tweeted along with a photo of a particularly lengthy-looking projectile.
Whelan wants the public to know the department will come to you if you have dangerous materials, like, oh say a WWII-era anti-tank round, gathering dust in the basement.
“Please don’t bring live explosives to our department,” he chuckled.