Police in Upper Merion said today a replica grenade that sparked an evacuation Wednesday at the Court at King of Prussia may have been stolen from Nestology, an art galley and store at the mall.
Investigators said they believe the fake grenade, on display with other military-style items at the back of the store to honor the armed forces, is actually a novelty paperweight item.
The device was likely stolen early Wednesday from Nestology and then dumped in the flower pot outside the Eddie Bauer store sometime Wednesday, police said. When police found it, they evacuated a quarter of the Court as a public safety precaution.
Nestology managers notified police Wednesday night about the theft of the device, in response to media reports of the mall evacuation.
"They came forward last night and said one was taken from [their] inventory," said Upper Merion police Sgt. Jeffrey Maurer.
He said it is legal for the store to offer such items for sale, but that in a meeting with store officials Maurer cautioned that "we would rather not see you sell them."
"They took it in," Maurer said, adding the paperweight recovered Wednesday was the last one in stock.
The search for the person responsible was ongoing, said Police Chief Ron Fonock in a statement released shortly before noon.
According to its Facebook page, Nestology is "an artist collective and shopping concept to support and nurture local artists and independent designers. A blend of art, culture and commerce, we showcase both established and emerging artists from Philadelphia + its surrounding area."
Early Wednesday afternoon, police and the bomb squad reposnded when mall security reported the discovery of the object. Officers quickly decided it posed no threat.
In the meantime, about a quarter of the court, which faces Rte. 202, was evacuated. The nearby Plaza remained opened and cars filled the shopping mall's parking lots, as usual.
No one was injured and no one has been arrested.