Geocache in Texas causes Terreralert

I like geocaching; I don’t do much, but it’s a nice excuse to get out and explore, and a bit more amusing, novel and romantic to find items which have traveled around the world one hop at a time.

Hence I am amused by the heavy-handedness, perhaps somewhat deserved but overly weighty, displayed by the citizens of Murphy, Texas.

“Murphy Police Chief Billy Myrick said that when these types of events occur, these thrill seekers do not think about the fact that they are actually putting entire communities at risk.”

…somehow visions of bobble-hatted geocachers in overly-hardy outdoors clothing, wilfully installing terror-caches and tying-up vast quantities of police time, fail to strike my imagination.

Article follows:

SUSPICIOUS DEVICE FOUND IN MURPHY

[Murphy] – On Friday, December 15, 2006 at approximately 12:12 P.M., the Murphy Police Department was notified by a U.S. Postal Service employee of a suspicious device that had been attached to a U.S. Postal Service mail depository box located on the corner of the old City Hall property at 205 North Murphy Road.

Officers from the Murphy Police Department were dispatched to the scene and made a visual observation of a white colored device of unknown origin that had been attached to the mail box. The postal service employee, who was still on the scene, reported to officers that he had been at that drop location earlier in the morning and the device was not there at that time. Unaware of what the device was or of its capabilities, on-scene personnel immediately called for the Murphy Fire/Rescue and Police command staff.

Once the situation had been assessed, calls were made for assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspector Service, the FBI and the Plano Police Department’s Bomb Squad. Those personnel arrived on scene and a collective decision was made to deploy a robot equipped with a disruptor unit and accompanied by a certified Bomb Technician.

When the necessary equipment was in place, a round was discharged from the disruptor unit which then rendered the device inoperable. A closer examination of that device found the item to be part of a Geocaching game which had apparently been placed on the mail receptacle by either a participant or an operator. Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers.

In today’s event, North Murphy Road had to be closed and traffic re-routed for almost four (4) hours to ensure that innocent persons were not put into harms way. Murphy Police Chief Billy Myrick said that when these types of events occur, these thrill seekers do not think about the fact that they are actually putting entire communities at risk. Public safety resources, including personnel and equipment, are committed to an avoidable event and not available to respond to other public emergencies. Because so many resources have to be called in from other agencies who are equipped to handle such matters, these people’s actions put multiple communities at risk.

After destruction of the device, Federal Agents from the United States Postal Inspector’s Service took possession of the remaining evidence and will send those materials to an appropriate laboratory for analysis. In that examination, law enforcement personnel will be looking for any means to identify the person(s) responsible for the placement of today’s device. Chief Myrick said that his department will continue to work closely with Federal law enforcement officials in this matter and if the person(s) responsible for today’s event are successfully identified, they could be facing both criminal and civil penalties.

(Via)

8 Replies to “Geocache in Texas causes Terreralert”

  1. re: Geocache in Texas causes Terreralert

    I geocache on occasion as well, and I find this rather ludicrous. While I can understand the desire to be careful in the age of paranoia, the fact is that the ratio of items that look suspicious but are innocent to actual terrorist devices is astronomical. Any reasonable offcial should expect the false positives and just shrug them off. Criminalizing the innocent is just nuts. If I were to forget my briefcase at a bus stop, should I get jail time?

  2. re: Geocache in Texas causes Terreralert

    If you forgot your briefcase at a bus stop, you should definitely not go to jail. you might not get your briefcase back these days, though. However, if you were to tape your briefcase to the bottom of a mailbox, which is an act neither innocent nor accidental, then yes, you should be penalized by the authorities. Sure, the ratio of false positives to real positives is HUGE, but the authorities can’t take the chance that it’s a false positive only to have it turn out to be a real positive, so they have to close traffic, call out the bomb squad and spend a number of hours, and countless thousands of dollars to investigate, and if possible render harmless the device, so they can try to catch the bugger that strapped it on their. If for no other reason than to discourage other people from doing the same sort of thing, that person should be severely punished. If you want to geocache, put your little box in the woods, or perhaps, somewhere that you have permission to do it. Don’t strap it to the bottom of a mailbox, for cryin’ out loud. That’s just Dumb.

  3. re: Geocache in Texas causes Terreralert

    Of course, the person who deposited the ‘cache could always have done the intelligent thing … of informing the local police department!

    I thought it was well known that interfering with the mail is a Federal issue in the US?

  4. re: Geocache in Texas causes Terreralert

    Er, since someone apparently has a clue that geocaching exists, do you think it occured to anyone to search the geocaching sites for the identity of the person who did this? I mean, you know the coordinates, how hard would it be? It doesn’t make any sense to place a geocache without publishing its location somewhere….

  5. I grow tired of this insanity. A similar event occured in front of the history museum in Monroe, Ohio. One difference: The police used the robot to retrieve it, xrayed it, determined it was in fact a cache, then put it back after signing the log and adding a toy badge. The numerous gestapo minded police officers around the country could stand to learn a lesson from Monroe PD. May we all keep caching without harrassment from the geocache gestapo? Please?

  6. Matdog +1. 100%

    Cops overreact and then blame the innocent for their overreaction. Sounds just like the rationale that wife beaters use..”.but you MADE me do that to you!”

  7. If you spent any time at Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio TX and saw the soldiers missing arms and legs from bombs planted in similar looking devices, you would be more understanding of the reaction–not overreaction. And one wouldn’t be so insensitive as to plant such a cache.

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