Radioactive device stolen from Phoenix business

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Police say a piece of construction equipment stolen from a Phoenix business contains radioactive material that, if exposed, could make people sick.

The business near 34th Street and Broadway Road reported that several items used for construction work were stolen on June 16. But it wasn't until recently that detectives learned the stolen equipment included a soil density meter containing three types of radioactive material.

The International Atomic Energy Agency rates the soil density meter less than a category-three radioactive device, according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"It's safe as it's contained in this casing," said Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos. "However, if the shell is somehow compromised, it could certainly expose radioactive material to someone causing obviously some illness."

Martos said the radioactive material could travel up to 100 feet outward from the source. He also said the burglars may not even realize they took something dangerous.

"The thing about this type of material is you can't see it, you can't hear it, you can't feel it," he said. "So, it is one of those things that we are concerned from the standpoint that someone may not know what it is or the potential harm it could cause."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission keeps tabs on missing radioactive material. Gov. Jan Brewer's office, surrounding states and the FBI have all been notified of the stolen density meter, according to the incident report on the commission's website.

Anyone with information is asked to call Phoenix police and firefighters immediately.