NYPD: Van in Times Square No Threat

Bomb squad used robot-based camera to approach the vehicle

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rachel Barker
    Taken from Conde Nast building: A bomb-squad robot approaches the suspicious van.

    The NYPD bomb squad gave the all clear early this afternoon after investigating a van abandoned in Times Square which officials say has apparently not been moved for some time.  

    Police responded around 8:30 a.m. after a 911 call about a suspicious van came in. The vehicle, a white 1992 Dodge, had tinted windows, a placard from a nonexistent law enforcement agency is on the dashboard, and no license plates.

    A tarp partially covered the van, and the placard said "detective's crime scene, New York/New Jersey area," a nonexistent law enforcement agency.

    The NYPD bomb squad used robot-based camera to approach the  vehicle, but sources told NBCNewYork that it doesn't seem the area was in danger.

    Officials said the van belonged to a street vendor of clothes, and was parked in a 3-hour commercial zone but had been there for 48 hours. 1 p.m. the police gave the all clear for the area.

    Nevertheless, officials said 4st Street to 43rd Streets between 6th and 7th Avenue had been closed off, earlier and two high-rise buildings home to Nasdaq and Conde Nast were partially evacuated. FDNY was on scene as precaution.

    Stephanie Gonzalez, who works one of high-rises in the area, said announcements were made around 11 a.m. that people should head to the west side of the building, away from the van. She left the building entirely.

    "Post 9/11, you're just not going to stick around to figure it out," she said.

    There have been no corresponding threats involving the vehicle, said chief NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne.

    "Its presence in Times Square just before New Year's Eve causes us concern, and that's why we're taking extra precautions," he said.

    The van was parked in a row of cars beneath some of the large billboards that ring the square. Police used a robot to examine the vehicle, then approached on foot and peered in the windows. Investigators also used a heavy police vehicle to tow a parked car several yards from the van as a precaution.

    New Year's Eve in Times Square draws hundreds of thousands of revelers each year. The NYPD takes extra precautions around this time of year, doing sweeps of garages looking for suspicious vehicles, Browne said.