Virginia mom arrested, charged over $1 gag-gift alarm clock

Daphne Page, 52, says she bought the “sticks of dynamite” novelty alarm clock for $1 at a garage sale and was going to give it to her daughter as a gag gift. After she left it in the back seat of her car at a grocery store, someone noticed it and raised an alarm which drew emergency fire and police response. “Page was charged with the manufacture, possession or use of explosives — a statute that includes the manufacture and possession of hoax devices.” [Ned Oliver, Richmond Times-Dispatch]

For one possibility as to what the clock might have looked like, there is a “bomb-like alarm clock” listed at Amazon Canada though not currently for sale (h/t Claudia C.). In the Virginia incident, assuming that Ms. Page’s account is accurate, the item would presumably not have been powered and turned on, and would thus not have been displaying any time numbers, blinking lights or the like. A similar object may have been involved in this Sonoma County, California incident last year in which emergency crews responding to what turned out to be unrelated fires at a mobile home complex ordered an evacuation after seeing the item in a bedroom.

While it is easy to see why lawmakers might seek to attach criminal penalties to pretend-bombs in some circumstances, it is less clear that charges are appropriate where there is no evidence of intent to use them to panic or threaten people. Posts on toy guns, including proposals for bans and for manufacturer liability, are here.


  • This is a major problem with law enforcement in this country. (I can’t speak for other countries.) They too often don’t look at what charges are appropriate, but what charges they can pile on to force a guilty plea on a “deal.”

  • If she were an immigrant boy from the right country, and if this happened last year, she would have been invited to the White House!

  • […] It’s a bad idea to leave anything visible in your car. […]