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Metro bomb scare
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MN.Fruitcake
Minnesota Reviewer


Joined: 18 Oct 2010

Posts: 35

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:04 pm    Post subject: Metro bomb scare Reply with quote

Folks -

We recently (earlier this week) had a cache that was nearly blown up by the bomb squad in the metro area. I'm not clear at this point as to which cache it was, but I know it was in the SE metro.

The cache was described to me as similar to a small CO2 cartridge that is used for paintball guns, hanging on the back of a stop sign. In my mind this sounds like a large bison tube.

The cache was reported to local PD, who then called out the bomb squad. The cache was apparently identified by MnDOT as a geocache before it was blown up.

Before you think that the PD over-reacted, try Googling co2 cartridge bomb.

Quote:
CO2 Cartridge Bombs

The CO2 device, commonly referred to as a kid bomb or cricket, also falls under the destructive-device classification in most state penal codes.

Bomb-makers construct this device from a small CO2 cylinder or cartridge of the type commonly used in BB and pellet guns, a swimmer's life vest or seltzer bottles. Makers vent the CO2 cartridge by punching a hole in a lightweight metal closing-disk set in the neck of the cartridge, then enlarge the hole with a nail or ice pick until it's large enough to admit a length of firecracker or model-rocket fuse. They then fill the empty CO2 cartridge with a fine grade of black powder or pistol powder, insert the fuse through the hole and typically secure the fuse in place with black electrician tape or epoxy glue.

When detonated, the confined powder explodes, ripping the cartridge body and sending red-hot fragments outward at up to 4,000 feet per second. Typically constructed by novice bomb-makers, CO2 cartridge bombs sometimes kill the maker when a short fuse doesn't allow them enough time to avoid the vessel's fragmentation.

Don't assume an unexploded CO2 device lacks danger. Set up your perimeter, evacuate the affected area and call an expert to deal with the device. Don't handle the device; resist the temptation to move it. Remember: These devices usually contain gunpowder, a substance that can prove very unstable under the wrong circumstances.


From the guidelines:

http://www.geocaching.com/about/guidelines.aspx#identification

Quote:
2. Label your geocache.

To avoid confusion and alarm when a cache is discovered accidentally, clearly label it as a "geocache" and include the GC code on the outside of the container. Transparent containers help to show that the contents are harmless. If the container has any military markings, we recommend permanently covering these or removing them. Include a printed "cache note" inside your cache to explain what it is and to provide a brief description of geocaching.


This response cost a lot of money. It casts a very bad light on geocaching, and can quickly become the root cause for some very restrictive regulations that are very hard to overturn.
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beagleboo
Geocacher


Joined: 06 Sep 2007

Posts: 167

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.notaboutthenumbers.com/2012/10/12/grenade-cache-confuses-bomb-squad/
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Rustynails
Geocacher


Joined: 27 Oct 2009

Posts: 787

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How does this casts a very bad light on geocaching?

Nothing illegal was done. They were able to identify it as a geocache. Was it marked? Let's not rush to judgment. I'm sure the cacher meant no harm. There are many bisons in signs everywhere. Maybe LEO should have more education on geocaching. After all this is a LEGAL activity and there are many caches out there. Happy Caching.
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AustinMN
Geocacher


Joined: 21 Mar 2012

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several observations:

1) The bomb squad will include this in their stats when trying to expand their budget. It will probably be used in statistics by Homeland Security to justify expanding their budget. These make it far more expensive than the several thousand dollars (or more) cost of the response.
2) It is not possible to replace "If you see something, say something" with "Use your brain." There are too many people that have no brain for that to work. (If you need proof, see #3 below).
3) This incident could probably have been cut short if the hider had just followed groundspeak rules about labeling.
4) I've said this before: we are becoming far too suspicious of our neighbors and far too trusting of our government.

Austin
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AerosmithPA
MnGCA President


Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 1091

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rustynails wrote:
How does this casts a very bad light on geocaching?


Right or wrong, many people in the general public will hear the words "bomb scare" and "geocache" in the same discussion. Some people may not hear any of the story beyond that. Some people will hear the whole story, but the seed is already planted and the game has a negative check against it.


Last edited by AerosmithPA on Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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King Boreas
Geocacher


Joined: 16 Dec 2002

Posts: 2439

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Code:
 hanging on the back of a stop sign.


Is this what geocaching has become?
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Rustynails
Geocacher


Joined: 27 Oct 2009

Posts: 787

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

King Boreas wrote:
Code:
 hanging on the back of a stop sign.


Is this what geocaching has become?


And don't forget about all those 35mm film canisters at the base of survey markers. Wink
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King Boreas
Geocacher


Joined: 16 Dec 2002

Posts: 2439

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rustynails wrote:
King Boreas wrote:
Code:
 hanging on the back of a stop sign.


Is this what geocaching has become?


And don't forget about all those 35mm film canisters at the base of survey markers. Wink


There aren't benchmarks at every stop sign.
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5692

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rustynails wrote:
How does this casts a very bad light on geocaching?

Nothing illegal was done. They were able to identify it as a geocache. Was it marked? Let's not rush to judgment. I'm sure the cacher meant no harm. There are many bisons in signs everywhere. Maybe LEO should have more education on geocaching. After all this is a LEGAL activity and there are many caches out there. Happy Caching.


This response blows me away and is exactly the problem.

They were able to identify it as a geocache after (I'm assuming) a few thousand taxpayer dollars were spent.

While I'm sure the cache owner meant no harm, I'm also sure the cache owner failed to notify the owner of the sign (either the local municipality or MnDOT) of the cache's existence, so the local PD wasn't aware of the cache. I could quote the guideline requiring permission here but it would be a waste of breath as everyone knows it.

Take a couple of seconds to reread (or read for the first time) the Mission Statement of the Minnesota Geocaching Association. I'll post a couple of key phrases for you:

Quote:
improve the credibility of the sport

Quote:
work with local, county, and state governments to promote geocaching as a family-oriented outdoor activity


The attitude of 'this is a legal activity because entity xyz hasn't banned it so we can do whatever we want' doesn't fly. It's merely an invitation for entity xyz to ban the activity or severely regulate it.

Did law enforcement overreact? Maybe. Maybe not. That's easy for us to say when we know all of the details about the situation. Look at it another way:

If you were a law enforcement officer, unaware of what geocaching is, and I gave you some training about local kids creating bombs out of small metal cylinders, the size of large buffalo tubes, and then you saw one of these tubes hanging on the back of a street sign, what would you think? Now, put the word "geocache" on the outside of the container. Does that change anything?

Think that MnDOT would never ban caches on road signs? Think again. South Carolina did it years ago - they banned caches on ALL road right of ways.

https://wiki.groundspeak.com/display/GEO/South+Carolina#SouthCarolina-RightofWayPlacements

The MnDNR banned geocaches in many areas based on existing language in the law. While I didn't look it up, I'm sure there is similar existing language in the law that would ban geocaching on street signs if an administrator wanted to apply it.

Why push our luck with this attitude?
_________________
Hmm...
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Rustynails
Geocacher


Joined: 27 Oct 2009

Posts: 787

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pear Head wrote:
Rustynails wrote:
How does this casts a very bad light on geocaching?

Nothing illegal was done. They were able to identify it as a geocache. Was it marked? Let's not rush to judgment. I'm sure the cacher meant no harm. There are many bisons in signs everywhere. Maybe LEO should have more education on geocaching. After all this is a LEGAL activity and there are many caches out there. Happy Caching.


This response blows me away and is exactly the problem.

They were able to identify it as a geocache after (I'm assuming) a few thousand taxpayer dollars were spent.

While I'm sure the cache owner meant no harm, I'm also sure the cache owner failed to notify the owner of the sign (either the local municipality or MnDOT) of the cache's existence, so the local PD wasn't aware of the cache. I could quote the guideline requiring permission here but it would be a waste of breath as everyone knows it.

Take a couple of seconds to reread (or read for the first time) the Mission Statement of the Minnesota Geocaching Association. I'll post a couple of key phrases for you:

Quote:
improve the credibility of the sport

Quote:
work with local, county, and state governments to promote geocaching as a family-oriented outdoor activity


The attitude of 'this is a legal activity because entity xyz hasn't banned it so we can do whatever we want' doesn't fly. It's merely an invitation for entity xyz to ban the activity or severely regulate it.

Did law enforcement overreact? Maybe. Maybe not. That's easy for us to say when we know all of the details about the situation. Look at it another way:

If you were a law enforcement officer, unaware of what geocaching is, and I gave you some training about local kids creating bombs out of small metal cylinders, the size of large buffalo tubes, and then you saw one of these tubes hanging on the back of a street sign, what would you think? Now, put the word "geocache" on the outside of the container. Does that change anything?

Think that MnDOT would never ban caches on road signs? Think again. South Carolina did it years ago - they banned caches on ALL road right of ways.

https://wiki.groundspeak.com/display/GEO/South+Carolina#SouthCarolina-RightofWayPlacements

The MnDNR banned geocaches in many areas based on existing language in the law. While I didn't look it up, I'm sure there is similar existing language in the law that would ban geocaching on street signs if an administrator wanted to apply it.

Why push our luck with this attitude?



No Attitude, just expressing an opinion. Please don't assume.

Geocaching is legal in that what we do is not criminal. Most of us are law abiding people and obey the laws of the land and geocaching guidelines. There are many outdoor activities we are one of those. Yes, we can look suspicious when searching and like many others have been stopped and questioned by police. I explain that I'm geocaching and they understand or know what caching is. They say have fun and I finish my search.

I know I will be stopped again as it's the nature of this activity. We look lost and odd when people see us search that tree. No matter what, people will always be suspicious. That's the way it it these days. People watch to many news show and are shown that everything out there is dangerous. Every thing you eat will harm you and there's a bad guy hiding behind every tree. Bomb calls happened before and unfortunately it will happen again. Labeling is what should be done. I do it and agree with that. But keep in mind if someone thinks a bison tube is a bomb their not going to place their head a foot away from it so they can read the label.
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schmittfamily
Geocacher


Joined: 21 Sep 2012

Posts: 113

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In all seriousness, at what point is geocaching mainstream enough that it should be assumed that a reasonably competent police officer has heard of it?

My one run in getting called as a suspicious person, the law officer had a number code for geocaching to respond to the dispatcher. I was a code 6 geocaching. It appears to me geocaching has hit CB lingo amongst LEO. At that point, my assumption is any police officer unaware of geocaching is commentary on which orifice their head is shoved in.

That said, the original post makes it seem like they did recognize it as a geocache so the previous sentence is not pointed at this incident.
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AerosmithPA
MnGCA President


Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 1091

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

schmittfamily wrote:
At that point, my assumption is any police officer unaware of geocaching is commentary on which orifice their head is shoved in.


Whoa! Attitudes like this do not help our game. As Pear Head suggested, please read the MnGCA's Mission Statement.
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tonkaMN
MnGCA Board


Joined: 10 Jun 2009

Posts: 872

PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

schmittfamily wrote:
My one run in getting called as a suspicious person, the law officer had a number code for geocaching to respond to the dispatcher. I was a code 6 geocaching. It appears to me geocaching has hit CB lingo amongst LEO.


Are you sure it wasn't 'code 4'? I've never heard of code 6 and I spend a lof of time listening to a police radio. Code 4 just means that the officer is not in danger and he doesn't plan to arrest anyone. That would be the response I would expect after an officer responds to a report of a suspicious person. I don't believe there is any 'lingo' for geocaching.
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schmittfamily
Geocacher


Joined: 21 Sep 2012

Posts: 113

PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I heard "code 6 geocaching".

Anyway, my point was my impression is police officers are aware of geocaching at this point. If they aren't, they really should be. Maybe board members are hearing something else.
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tonkaMN
MnGCA Board


Joined: 10 Jun 2009

Posts: 872

PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, we can't assume that all police officers are going to recognize all of our geocache containers. All it takes is a couple that get blown up by the bomb squad because they look like bombs and we will have some serious restrictions put on where we can place them. I have seen quite a few caches that are wrapped in duct tape or black tape and could easily be mistaken for a bomb. It would be nice if everyone labelled them properly and used some common sense since i know that not all the cops out there are familiar with geocaching.
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