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Boy steals from high school chemistry lab to make explosives


A 17-year-old schoolboy in Hidaka, Hokkaido, has been arrested for stealing explosive materials from his school, police said Tuesday.

According to police, between February and April, the boy regularly stole flammable material, such as potassium nitrate, from the school's chemistry store by picking the locks on both the door and the storage shelves, TBS reported.

The school's headmaster described the incident as "regrettable," but emphasized that the door to the chemistry cupboard had been locked for the entire three-month period.

During police questioning, the reportedly boy confessed to the thefts and told officers he had been taking the stolen articles to the woods to blow them up.

Police are continuing to investigate the case and are currently questioning four other students whom they believe acted as accomplices.

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Potassium is not a flammable material. It is an oxidising agent that is used to make explosives when mixed with another substance such as carbon. It is one of the ingredients of gunpowder.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

group of five? sounds scary looking back at Aum Sarin Attack.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

traveller, potassium is a very flammable metal, it spontaneously ignites in air. much nastier than sodium. you are probably talking about the nitrate, regarding which I agree with you.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Regrettable. At least he didn't steal chemistry equipment to cook meth or something. Blowing stuff up in the woods is no big deal.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sounds something like boys do... I know I made gunpowder from burnt toast (carbon) when I was a kid.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It`s a boy thing. I used to get pottasium nitrate out of fertilizer and use it with sulphur from the plant store and charcoal from the pet store to make gunpowder as a high school kid. No bad intentions, I just wanted to play with small amounts with my friends down by the river.

The only thing that makes this different is that he was regularly picking the lock which makes it a case of theft. At least he also didnt have any bad intentions (he wasnt vandalising anything or trying to blow someone`s car up or something).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Boys will be boys?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Natrium nitrate & Potassium nitrate was sold in food stores back home in small packs as a food preservative.

Mixed with sugar at the right proportions it makes for a sweet science project volcano that can really blow the socks of you science teacher.

And what budding scientist has not played around with candy rockets? The boy should just find better(legal) ways of sourcing the substances needed for his projects.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We've all done it (or something very similar)... Boys that is :)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Breaking bad - Japan style.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

that the door to the chemistry cupboard had been locked for the entire three-month period.

I guess they do not do many labs there. Great school.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And I knew of this guy who could take a length of string, two coconuts and make a nuclear reactor.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Big deal, I did the same thing with household chemicals when I was a kid.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

'I had a friend who did the same thing when he was fourteen back in 1950. He made all kinds of explosives rockets mortar, even created an early version of a dirty bomb by pour radioactive isotopes over one of his bomb so he could tell one of his enemies that he had created an atomic bomb. It was enough to make on of the early Geiger counters click and impressed the other kid. Well even a dirty bomb was something different for a kid back then. He used to swipe radioactive stuff out of the chem. labs at the University of California at Berkeley.One of his neighbors got a bit pissed when he discovered 17 spent rockets on his roof. A navy recruiter was curious about his gasoline powered rocket motor he designed as a teenager. Ended up becoming a miner with very good knowledge of a variety of explosives, never got in trouble.

Now this kid the main thing I guess is they don't want kids swiping chemicals. That was wrong, but there is nothing in the article to suggest he was doing anything deadly as far as the explosions. So get him on the stealing and get him a scholarship in chemistry and put the kid's talents to work for the good of society. We can always use another scientist. Some company could put up the money an gain a very useful employee.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Hey Junior, what have you learned about today, at school?"

"To make explosives"

"And tomorrow, what will you learn about at school?"


4 ( +5 / -1 )

"The school’s headmaster described the incident as “regrettable,” but emphasized that the door to the chemistry cupboard had been locked for the entire three-month period."

Ah, the good old 'regrettable'. Anyway, trying to insist away any guilt on the schools part by repeating the cases were locked doesn't change the fact that obviously they were not locked WELL ENOUGH.

All in all I'd say this isn't that big a deal. They caught the kid doing it, the police got involved and probably scared him a bit, the school will likely increase security (putting a sign on the cabinets/cases saying, "We ask for your cooperation and understanding. Let's work together not to steal!"), and hopefully the kid will get some mild punishment. It's not like he was planning to blow up the school or other people or something.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Herve Nmn L'Eisa

And I knew of this guy who could take a length of string, two coconuts and make a nuclear reactor.

Let me guess. He later found work with TEPCO? :-)

Either that or he is working on the coconautic bomb?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm impressed. The rap kids get here is for lack of initiative, which he obviously has lots of. My god, did I ever used to do that kind of stuff! Powdered zinc mixed with sulfur was my favorite - big green flash. For gunpowder++ potassium chlorate works better than niitrate. As they'd probably say now, "it's da bomb".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I agree nahaman. It seems there are some high school kids in Japan who havent yet had the fire knocked out of them. I guess he probably should have found a better source for his materials than theft from the school chem lab cupboard, but he also deserves some credit for his enthusiasm, and its not as if he was maliciously damaging anything, just having some fun in the woods. If they play this right, he should be offered an internship by ICI or someone like that!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I though you could buy potassium nitrate (AKA "saltpeter") at any decent pharmacy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yeah i seriously doubt there was enough in a high school classroom to make anything big enough to be more then a firecracker.

seriously i could make a large amount of gunpowder just from stuff from hardware and pharmacy stores.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Those meddling kids!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

thats so cool!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

sunhawk - not necessarily small quantities. I was a chemistry nerd in Jr High and remember temptingly large bottles of chemicals that were sold to schools by lab supply companies. (The school supply rooms always smelled like alcohol and copper sulphate.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ammonia + bleach=mustard gas

Home made WMD

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Beans + mustard = ammonia + bleach

1 ( +1 / -0 )

i don't get why this is such a big deal.

This kind of thing happens all the time, kids will be kids and that will never change.

i remember when i was younger i made a couple home made "fireworks" if you count that exploding in different colors counts as fireworks.

Suffice to say that did not make me a criminal or give me the urge to kill anyone with it.

it was something fun to do and it looked amazing

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that some people (including maybe the j-cops) are losing sight of the problem here. The problem is that this kid broke into the school and stole stuff. Breaking and entry, and theft. He needs to be set straight before he turns his lockpicking skills to relieving grannies of their over-stuff matresses full of cash.

As for the blowing up stuff, I think every kid goes through this stage. I was fortunate that my dad was a chemist and showed me the most incredible mixtures, and the only condition was that I followed sensible safety precautions, and I told him what I was doing... and when you have a qualified chemist giving you instructions and explaining what would happen if, for example, you added the acid to the base instead of the base to the acid, then you rapidly develop a respect for chemicals. I had great fun, and my dad even ordered chemicals for my projects.

My problem with this kid doing this alone and unsupervised is that, even with supervision, I once nearly lost my eyebrows to a simple mixture of potassium nitrate and sugar (I was making smoke bombs) when I fractionally overheated the mixture. I was fortunate I was wearing goggles with proper glass lenses (not the cheap plastic ones you get at school) or I could have burnt my eyes. I also set fire to the bench I was working on (I jumped back, knocked over the bunsen burner, which ignited one of the smoke bombs, which in turn ignited a bowl of chemicals... it was a mess). A bucket of sand I had been instructed to keep by the bench sorted it out, but without my dad's precautions it could have been nasty (as punishment for carelessness I had to re-sand and polish the workbench to get rid of the scorch marks before I was allowed any more experiments - my dad was very understanding and the hours of work with sandpaper gave me time to think over my mistake).

The point is that this kid needs to be sat down and set straight before he ruins his life, either by continuing thieving or by killing himself with those chemicals. If that means a week in jail to contemplate his options then that's fair.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This kid will become a terrorist.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Smart kid. We also discovered the ingredients for gunpowder in our school's encyclopedia... picked up sulfur from the railroad tracks, charcoal from the barbeque, and saltpeter in cans ($0.19 cents at the time) at the drug store. We had a lot of fun making firecrackers and crude fuses, etc.

Unfortunately, those days are gone for kids. Everything has become a federal offense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I had a friend in secondary school who was a budding chemist....when he started talking about the periodic table and formulas, I would just gape in awe (he even knew the recipe for nitroglycerin by heart). Naturally, one of his favorite activities (like with most 14 year old boys) was to make things go boom, so he would regularly detonate some crazy concoction in the middle of nowhere...that Hokkaido-boy deserves a slap on the wrist, that's all....no need to involve the police over such things.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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