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'Radioactive Boy Scout' Sentenced to 90 Days for Stealing Smoke Detectors

Thursday, October 04, 2007

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. —  A man who tried to build a nuclear reactor in a shed as a teenager will be assessed by doctors before starting a 90-day jail sentence for stealing smoke detectors.

David Hahn, 31, was sentenced Tuesday in Macomb County Circuit Court on attempted larceny from a building. He was arrested in August after a maintenance worker saw him steal a smoke detector from his Clinton Township apartment complex. Police later found 15 other smoke detectors in his apartment.

Authorities were concerned he was trying to obtain a radioactive isotope from the smoke detectors.

Hahn pleaded guilty in August.

Online court records state his sentence will be delayed six months while Hahn receives treatment at a Veterans Administration Hospital. The jail term will be held in abeyance until the assessment by doctors is reviewed next April.

As part of his sentencing, Hahn is not to use drugs or alcohol and to take his medication as ordered.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday for Hahn's lawyer, Mike Chupa.

Authorities first learned of Hahn's obsession with radioactivity in 1994 after he told a health official that he hoped to earn an Eagle Scout badge by producing energy, according to an article in Harper's Magazine.


Police found a laboratory in a shed outside his mother's home in Oakland County's Commerce Township. The shed's remains later were buried at a low-level radioactive waste site.

Hahn learned during his experiments in the 1990s that a small amount of a radioactive isotope could be found in smoke detectors, according to the 1998 Harper's article which was expanded into a book called "The Radioactive Boy Scout."

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