Historic safe causes quite a ruckus in downtown Northport

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Aajene Robinson

Historic downtown Northport looked like the site of a major emergency earlier this week, but the situation was quite safe. And safe-related, in fact.

Adams Antiques in historic downtown Northport was once a pharmacy called Adams Drug Store. Like all pharmacies, they stored high-value items like narcotics inside a safe.

Northport Fire and Rescue Capt. Tony Gill said at the time, it was common for safes to include some sort of “safe protector” — or booby trap, near or inside the safe in case of break-ins.

“I was told by one of our police officers that they were actually able to take a photograph of the device,” Gill said. “It was a lachrymatory agent that was made known to us by (Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms).”

A lachrymatory agent is a chemical compound that affects the eyes. Common forms include mustard and tear gas.

When the drug store building was sold and became Adams Antiques, the safe stayed with the building. For years, it sat inside the store’s warehouse without issue.

Current-day owner George Cooper said he wanted to sell the historic safe, but knew it needed a safe removal before that could happen.

“Multiple agencies were involved,” Gill said. “Northport (Police Department) was on the scene and requested us. I was in charge of finding out a little more on what the object actually was, whether it was an explosive or a chemical agent. From what I understand the owner of the business had already opened the safe and let PD know he wanted it removed and it had become dislodged.”

If someone tried to breach the safe with a drill, the two glass vials would come together and mix, setting off a chemical reaction.

Despite the heavy first-responder presence, there was zero threat to the community. Gill said he’s grateful for all the teams involved in such a unique situation.

“I do think that it was really amazing that the agencies were able to come together for mutual aid and work together to really put our heads together on something that doesn’t happen too often in our career line,” Gill said.

Everything inside the safe was safely removed, and now this metal behemoth is looking for a new home.

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