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Neighborhood evacuated as LAPD probes theft of DWP lumber

February 1, 2013 |  6:14 pm

Los Angeles Police cordoned off a North Hollywood neighborhood near the home of a Department of Water and Power employee Friday after a box marked as containing explosives was found in the garage of the residence.

The LAPD bomb squad was called to the home in the 6600 block of Irvine Avenue about 4 p.m. after Hollywood area detectives came for an interview connected to a theft investigation, LAPD officials said.

Officers were also examining a large cache of ammunition and weapons to determine if they were legally owned.

DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo said the agency's security services received a tip about two weeks ago regarding possible theft of building materials by a department employee.

"Security services conducted a preliminary investigation and determined that this matter warranted referral to the Los Angeles Police Department," Ramallo said. "Today, based on the information provided by LADWP, the LAPD arrested a four-year employee of the department who works as a carpenter."

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith confirmed that DWP investigators notified LAPD Hollywood Division abut the theft of "high end lumber from the city."

Smith confirmed that police were examining possible explosive materials but would not elaborate.

"The follow-up led them to the North Hollywood home  where they detained one individual and located what's believed to be stolen wood belonging to the city."

The wood, a special type of cedar, is very expensive because of its moisture-resistant qualities. It is used for lining in wet environments such as reservoirs or in high-end home improvement projects such as decks.

Detectives found wood stacked behind the home and also believed that it might have been used to construct a deck at the home. Investigators believe the wood was worth about $100,000.

It was not immediately clear how long it would take before neighbors were allowed back in their homes, police officials said.

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--Andrew Blankstein and David Zahniser

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