Denver bomb squad defeats 8" toy robot after hours-long standoff

Denver police stopped rushhour traffic near Coors Field for hours yesterday last week because they were scared that a tiny, 8" tall toy robot that someone had glued to the sidewalk was a bomb. They used a bomb-squad robot to blow it up, just to be on the safe side.
"Are you serious?" asked Denver resident Justin Kent, 26, when police stopped him from proceeding down 20th Street. Kent said that he lived just past the closed area, but was told he would have to go around via Park Avenue.

"I can't believe it. This is ridiculous," said Kent.

Traffic piled up at adjacent intersections as rush hour commuters were forced to detour around the closure...

A bomb squad robot was sent it to examine the troublesome robot before a bomb squad officer, dressed in heavy protective gear, took a turn.

[Denver Police Spokesman Matt] Murray said that the bomb squad couldn't be sure if the robot was safe or not, and so remotely detonated it at about 5:30 p.m. to "render it safe." The robot exploded into several chunks.

"It was cemented in. That's odd," Murray said.

Toy robot detours traffic near Coors Field (Thanks, LostMachine, via Submitterator)

(Image: thumbnail of larger photo by RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)


  1. Hopefully the terrorist that placed this nonbomb on a public sidewalk that American children walk on will be caught and tortured until he confesses.

  2. Humans : FAIL
    Robots : WIN

    …but precaution is good. If it was seriously a bomb someone would have been killed!

  3. “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.” Batty (Blade Runner)

    1. “The first real robot v robot conflict in Earth history?”

      actually, no.
      a bomb squad robot is tethered, forced to submit to the murderous commands of its human slave masters.
      it has no autonomy.

  4. What the police always say after some stupid escapade like this is, “We have to take every report seriously.” No, you don’t. You have to use judgment to decide which ones to take seriously and which to ignore. Occasionally you will be wrong–we the people and you the police have to accept that–but most of the time you will be right. And that is good enough.

  5. This happened last week (the article is dated 12/1), rather than yesterday. Still a terrible waste, though. Thank the gods the police were able to protect Denver residents from a plastic toy.

  6. I recall several years ago when the Boston Police flipped out over the Aqua Teen Hunger Force LED devices, and lots of people pointed at Boston implying (or outright insisting) that this was something endemic to Boston. I called BS on that– this kind of security paranoia is in every city in the US post 9/11, and Boston’s ATHF crap was just the first big incident. If police see something “out of place” they immediately assume “bomb”, despite the fact that a bomber is just as likely (more likely?) to disguise it as something totally normal. Bomb scares are so easy now, you don’t even have to say “bomb” or write “bomb” on a box and place it in public, just glue a toy to the sidewalk or forget your suitcase at the bus stop.

    I could see myself gluing a toy to something public like this, not out of a desire to cause a panic, but just to add a little silliness/dadaism to daily life, something funny and quirky, the complete opposite of what happened. Of course you can’t come forward after and tell your real intentions, because they will still charge you will an offense.

    As someone in Boston said after the ATHF scare: if during a thunderstorm the shadows of the oak tree outside your house start to look like a monster, that does not justify you gong out the next day and cutting it down “just to be safe.”

    1. What offence? Littering? I think any other charge would be flimsy because it would entirely hinge upon the messed up overreaction of the police department. That would be an interesting one to see played out in court.

  7. This kind of thing is sooo crazy. Maybe it IS a terrorist plot to find out how a city deals w/ bombs? You place an object somewhere and see what the response is, giving you a good long look at the people and equipment involved in that response? OR maybe anyone who has an interest in goofing w/authority will do this just to get some press? Who knows? Likely it just cost the taxpayers of the City of Denver $150K for the ‘Special Response Team” Next time call someone to “remotely detonate the device” with a long handled flat-shovel…

  8. Sure – it’s easy to criticize the police. But keep this in mind:

    Toy Robot Today – Centurion tomorrow, skinjobs next week.

    This has all happened before and…okay, I’ll stop. Sorry.

    1. We’re just saying they should have shot it with laser weapons instead of old school gunpowder, that’s all.

  9. Lol I totally had one of those robots when I was a kid. It’s a RAD robot version 2.0 You can tell the difference between it and the 1.0 by the redesigned head structure.

  10. Remember folks – don’t do anything out of the ordinary, or you might be labeled odd by the police, and detonated by the bomb squad.

    All hail Predictability, all hail Security!


  11. Next time, someone’s got to glue a Mona Lisa to a bridge.

    I’d like to believe it is not really paranoia that drives police to do these sorts of things. We know that in Boston, police officials were well aware the lite-brite signs were not bombs after they’d found and examined the first one. But an opportunity for overtime presented itself and they took it as far as they possibly could, ultimately billing the network that had commissioned the signs to pay for the whole night’s escapade. It was a windfall.

    In Denver, the overtime can’t be billed to a second party — the police were essentially stealing from their own city’s limited funds.

  12. I really hope the “terrists” dont read the news, or they will start gluing toys to airplanes, structural supports for bridges and buildings, etc.

  13. klossner – In the case you link to someone called in a bomb threat, and the bomb was hidden under a bush. Not out in the open disguesed as a robot or a homeless bear or anything.

    So, tragic, but not really equivilent.

  14. Where the fuck did common sense go?

    If I walked by the scene I would limp out there and kick it, ala Charlie Brown.

  15. because if we dont pretend dhs does stuff, the poeple might wonder why we spend more on blowing up stuff than feeding and educating our children…

  16. This sounds a lot like an Alice’s Restaurant scenario, where a bomb squad that had lots of cool new toys to play with was just looking for an excuse to use’em. (For you young sprouts out there, that was a song by Arlo Guthrie back in the 60’s, go find it on YouTube, already :). Either that, or the Denver Police is the dumbest bunch of clucks since my granny last wrung a chicken’s neck and cooked it for dinner.

    Of course, both could be true… heh.

  17. Quick, someone make a giant one of these and make it breathe fire. It’ll attack Denver and be looking for it’s offspring. Mamma’s pissed! :D

  18. I think you would be surprised how little traffic you can get from a BoingBoing post. Just last month, I had a nice set of links and people
    clicked on them about 150 times. Why? That’s the natural amount of interest for the topic. Plus, the article had a big block quote that pretty
    much told people most of what they wanted to know. So only the hard core readers clicked through.

    On the same day, I was linked to by a much smaller blog and got at least twice as much traffic. Why? Because the smaller blog didn’t reprint
    much. It actually encouraged the readers to “read the original” piece.

    Everyone seems to assume that BoingBoing generates tons of traffic but most of the time people just read the stuff between the blockquotes
    and move on.

Comments are closed.