Spot the improvised explosive device

Who’s better at finding improvised explosive devices, the police or Starbucks baristas?

If you said the police, you would be wrong.

On Monday, in Washington, D.C., the Deparment of Justice building was evacuated after a suspicious package left on a city bus turned out to be a homeless man’s coat. The evacuation was ordered out of an “overabundance of caution,” a law enforcement official told Reuters. It made me wonder just how difficult it is to identify improvised explosive devices — but only briefly.

Is this an IED or a coat?

Also on Monday, in San Francisco, an alert Starbucks employee spotted a suspicious package in the bathroom, and it did indeed turn out to be an improvised explosive device. The Starbucks and the apartment building above it were evacuated, and the IED was defused successfully within an hour of the device initially being spotted. “This was a good device. If it had exploded, it would have caused injuries or damage,” San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens told the Associated Press.

Maybe we should turn the Deparment of Homeland Security over to Starbucks. They may well do a much better job of securing America efficiently, raising morale in the department, and of course, having excellent coffee on hand all the time.

Update: It seems that wasn’t an explosive after all. It turned out to be an old flashlight with corroded batteries that a homeless man had found outside and accidentally dropped in the bathroom. I guess this means nobody knows what an improvised explosive device looks like.