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April 14, 2006
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NY bomb squad inspects car in front of Japanese ambassador's home

The Associated Press

NEW YORK- A police bomb squad, responding Friday to a call of a suspicious device inside a parked minivan in front of the Japanese ambassador's home, blew out the vehicle's windows - only to find out the item inside was simply stereo equipment, police said.

The incident occurred when police received an emergency call from a passer-by who spotted the device inside a red minivan parked on 67th Street in Manhattan, said police spokesman Dennis Laffin. It was a canister about the size of two shoe boxes, with a digital display of changing numbers and some loose wires visible.

"It looked suspicious," Laffin said. "I think anyone would have thought something was strange."

The police bomb squad responded after the 8:22 a.m. (1222 GMT) call, blowing out three side windows and the back window with a water propelled charge, Laffin said at the scene. A police robot was sent inside the van to take pictures of the device; the photos led police to determine the package was nothing more than stereo equipment.

The Japanese ambassador lives in the building in front of which the van was parked, but police said he was not there at the time.

The van's owner, a New Yorker, has yet to hear the bad news about his windows.

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