Police investigating theft of nuclear gauge

April 25, 2008 3:39:40 PM PDT
Police say a portable nuclear gauge was stolen today out of the bed of a construction truck.Police are really concerned about this missing nuclear gauge.

If someone cracks it open, they risk being exposed to radiation.

Residents are worried too and bit angry it was left in an open bed pickup, but the owner of the truck says the equipment was secured.

The company, Applied Testing and Geosciences, did not return our calls, but police say the nuclear gauge was stolen out of the back of Matt Bergman's truck parked overnight in front of a home on the 500 block of Dickinson Street.

The device is used for measuring the density of soil at construction sites. It contains a small amount of radioactive material.

When the gauge is in its bright-yellow plastic case, it does not pose any threat or harm. However, any attempt to tamper with the device could subject the person doing so to potentially dangerous radioactive exposure. Police and residents are worried someone will try to bust it open.

The yellow container has an exterior decal of three triangular shapes surrounding a small circle, the universal symbol for radioactive contents.

Last year another nuclear gauge was stolen and recovered when the thief tried to sell it at a scrap metal shop in Northwest Philadelphia.

Troxler, the company that manufactures the equipment, says over a four year period 156 gauges were stolen in the United States. Most thefts occurred while the device was in a vehicle parked off the work site and at a private residence.

Part of investigation is finding out if box properly secured. Police say if you come across the case or something that looks like it, don't touch it and call 911.