Bomb squad blew up violin, case

NEW PALTZ – The “suspicious device” that temporarily shut down the New Paltz Trailways bus station Thursday was a traveler’s violin, New Paltz police said Friday.

Police said the device, which was blown up by a bomb squad, turned out to be “neither hazardous nor intentionally left there,” and closed their investigation.

Police responded to the bus station at 3 p.m. Thursday and found a piece of white tubing approximately two feet long, that was capped at both ends with wires protruding from it. The bus station and surrounding area was immediately evacuated, and the state police bomb squad was called to the scene. Police X-rayed and then blew up the violin case.

Based on evidence recovered from the device after it was “neutralized,” New Paltz detectives working with the FBI determined that it was a musical instrument called a WiplStix, a type of traveling violin. The instrument uses four colored strings, some of which were protruding from the PVC piping when the item was found by police.

“In the world we now live in, pipes with wires sticking out of them will almost always cause the precautionary response we implemented,” said New Paltz police Lt. Steven Osarczuk. “When it comes to our residents, we’re always going to err on the side of caution.”

On Friday, police said the owner of the WiplStix contacted them after hearing about the incident. He said he had the violin in a white PVC carrying case and had it strapped to his backpack as he was exiting a Trailways bus from New York City to New Paltz. He told police that the PVC pipe must have fallen off the backpack as he was exiting the bus.

The WiplStix weighs one pound, one ounce, and costs about $300, according to the manufacturer’s Web site.

“Y’all make a big deal about things up there,” said Bill Whipple, who manufactures the instruments in North Carolina. He said police called him during the investigation.

Whipple has been making the instruments for about 10 years, and this is the first time one has been treated as an explosive, although people have joked about its resemblance to a pipe bomb.

“As kind of a joke, people ask me ‘Can I take this thing on a plane?'” Whipple said. “I’ve taken them on planes and never had any problems.”

Whipple said he requested that the remains of the violin be sent to him, but police told him its pieces were scattered over a dozen boxes.

“They blew it to smithereens,” Whipple said.

Although Whipple said the police officers he talked to “definitely had a sense of humor” about the incident, Osarczuk said the alarm it caused was no laughing matter.

“I think the manufacturer should seriously reconsider how he packages these instruments in the future,” he said.

Whipple said that he’s considering putting up a memorial Web page devoted to “old number 465,” referring to the instrument’s number.

Source: The Daily Freeman

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