White powder in rental car leads to man's arrest

7:41 AM, Sep 8, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- A man was arrested after he returned his rental car heavily damaged with a white, powdery substance in the back seat.

Police responded to an airport rental car location around 8:30 p.m. Saturday after an employee reported that a car was returned with white powder in the back seat and trunk.

The car was also missing the spare tire and had a hole that was burned through the bottom of the trunk.

When police arrived and looked in the car, they called the fire department to the scene. HAZMAT crews and the FBI also responded.

The rental company employee pointed out the man who had just returned the car, now identified as Christopher Frank. He was walking nearby and was detained on a shuttle bus.

Frank told police that he and his girlfriend were in an abandoned building on the city's east side where they'd found some glass bottles with liquid in them. One was labeled "hydrogen chloride." He put them in the trunk of the car.

After going out to eat, they returned to the car and noticed a strong odor that made it hard to breathe. When Frank opened the trunk, he saw the bottles had broken. 

He went to a car wash to clean the car, spraying water into the trunk. That's when the substance started to bubble, sparking a chemical reaction.

The couple threw away the bottles and other damaged parts in the car including the spare tire.

Frank called a friend who advised him to get baking soda and apply it to the liquids, which they did.

Finally, they returned the car to the rental company.

Frank was arrested on vandalism charges. He was taken to the hospital for treatment before being booked.

The rental company says the car is a total loss.


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