A suspicious looking pipe found in an employee lounge area of Safeway prompted authorities to evacuate the store Friday afternoon, but a robot deployed to check the device discovered no explosive materials.
Police received a call from a manager at the Santa Rita Road store at 11:28 a.m. reporting that they found the pipe in an employee locker, according to Lt. Mike Elerick of the Pleasanton Police Department. Officers who responded were joined by officials from the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department and members of the Alameda County bomb squad, who coincidentally were training in town at the time.
The store was then evacuated. The bomb squad sent in a robot to retrieve the pipe, brought it outside into the parking lot and detonated one end of the device to neutralize it, Elerick said. Special bomb squad technicians determined that there were no explosive materials inside the pipe and store employees and customers were allowed back inside the store at 1:30 p.m.
Police aren't sure who the pipe belongs to or why it was brought to the employee lounge, which is located in the front of the store on the west side.
"It may have been left there inadvertently," Elerick said. "We just don't know. When you see a piece of pipe with shredded ends on both end caps, the first thing you think about is a possible pipe bomb."
Elerick said police are interviewing store employees. There are no surveillance cameras in the lounge area and the lockers operate on a first come, first served basis. Employees are responsible for bringing a lock to and from work to lock up their personal belongings, Elerick said.
Myla Grasso, a spokeswoman for the Pleasanton Unified School District, said that the incident didn't affect any of the district's schools, including nearby Amador Valley High and Alisal Elementary schools.
The threat also didn't appear to have any effect over a large-scale swim meet that was under way at the Delores Bengtson Aquatic Center in Amador Community Park behind Safeway.