A suspicious powder that turned out to be ground-up butterscotch candy packaged to resemble an illicit drug brought work to a halt Wednesday afternoon at a Rock Island office building, authorities said.
Rock Island police and firefighters were sent to 500 42nd St., the LRC Office Plaza, at 3:12 p.m. to investigate a report of a suspicious substance.
The building is home to the Illinois Department of Housing and Human Services, Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois Department of Employment Security, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 313 and LRC Real Estate.
Rock Island Fire Department District Chief Darren LeBeau said a security guard found a small package that looked like something containing an illicit drug in the parking lot and took it to the security office.
“He set it on his desk and then later decided that this probably wasn’t a good decision for him to have made,” LeBeau said. The substance, “was in a wrapper similar to what drug products are packaged in,” he added.
A portion of the building that shared the ventilation system with that security guard’s desk was evacuated, LeBeau said. Workers in another portion of the building that did not share the ventilation system were allowed to continue working.
While a large number of workers went home, there were those who could not as they left their personal belongings and vehicle keys at their desks.
LeBeau said Rock Island tested the substance twice for drugs, and those results came back negative. Another type of test supplied by the Rock Island Arsenal Fire Department said the substance was unknown. A third type of test supplied by the East Moline Fire Department identified the source as ground-up butterscotch candy.
Police said selling lookalike substances was a common method used by drug dealers without real drugs to sell to make money and rip off customers.
Selling lookalike substances is a Class 3 felony in Illinois that carries a prison sentence of two to five years.
Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter
Get the latest in local public safety news with this weekly email.