A central Iowa burglar may not know his loot from a break-in is dangerous stuff. Des Moines Police Sergeant Gregg Westemeyer said there’s someone out there with a stolen safe that contains a canister of deadly poison. About an ounce of a substance called “Compound 1080,” a chemical otherwise known as sodium fluoroacetate — an extremely toxic poison that the Iowa Poison Control Center says is so powerful, an ounce could kill fifty average-sized adults. The owner’s a pest-control professional who tells police he intended to find a way to dispose of the poison legally, and had it locked up in a safe — when the entire safe was stolen. A couple days after reporting that it held only personal papers, the man called back to tell police he’d remembered the canister of poison in the safe. Police say the poison’s in a clearly-marked commercial container. The yellowish-orange can it’s in is small, the size of a can of mushrooms or half the size of a soda-pop can, and has a small lid similar to the kind on a paint can. It says “fatal poison” right on the can, and if someone opened it they’d likely see a white powdery substance. “This substance is so toxic,” Westemeyer says, “it can get into the system either through ingestion, inhalation, or it can be absorbed through the skin.” It’s a Meilink brand safe, about 16-inches tall and 13-inches wide, brown with a dial on it and an “L”-style handle. The poison inside it is so deadly, Sergeant Westemeyer says it’s been illegal to sell it to the general public for more than three decades. Richard Mugan, owner of Midwest Pest Management, has told police he intended to find a way to have the poison properly disposed of, before it was stolen.
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