PHILADELPHIA — That's not a pipe bomb — it's just a prototype laser for a robot.

The checked baggage room of Philadelphia International Airport had to be evacuated on Thursday because of a device that looked like an improvised explosive.

The device was in a bag that triggered an alarm. A Transportation Security Administration officer called police after spotting it.

The passenger who owned the bag was tracked down and he explained it was a harmless prototype. A bomb squad, however, had to make sure the device was safe, officials explained Friday. The baggage room returned to normal after 40 minutes.

“The TSA officers who discovered the device did exactly what they were supposed to do in notifying supervisors and clearing the area until the bomb squad could clear the item,” Gerardo Spero, the TSA Acting Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport, said. “Fortunately, it turned out to be harmless, but we don’t take chances when something like this is spotted.”

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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