Owners Found Vest Among Items Purchased From Storage Locker

CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police believe a suspicious vest that was detonated after a Clifton thrift store owner thought it resembled a bomb was actually a movie prop.

Police detonated the vest that was found at the New 4 You thrift shop on Lakeview Avenue early Friday morning in a blast that could be heard and felt for blocks.

“Other than the noise, I felt the vibration in my chest,” said resident Naseem Leister. “It was horrifying.”

“It was ‘bang’ and you could you feel the vibration,” said Mario Caliendo, who was in bed about three blocks away.

The owners of the shop were going through items they had purchased from a storage locker auction Thursday night when they made the discovery.

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Owner Mike Hamadat said the vest had wires, a timer and a red button that he pushed, causing his wife Rene DiMitrous to panic.

“I seen lights flashing and it had these four cylinders in the front and I said, ‘Mike, that’s a bomb — that is a bomb,'” she told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

Leister happened to be in the store when they discovered it.

“It looked like a bullet proof vest,” he told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “It has a little black belt buckle on the bottom by the waist. He sees a controller, like a remote control Play Station handler. It has an off-on switch, it was red and green.”

They called police who evacuated a four-block area Thursday night as bomb squad members inspected and destroyed the device.

“Outside for about five hours,” James Butman, who lives in the apartment above the thrift store, told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney. “It was scary. Never in my whole life was I as scared as I was last night.”

No injuries were reported.

Police said they later tested the vest and found there were no traces of explosives. Authorities said the vest was detonated out of an abundance of caution.

The device and all the other items from the locker came from California and were brought to Clifton to be auctioned off when the owner died, police said. He worked in the film industry and investigators said the device was actually a movie prop made to look like a suicide vest.

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