I wrote an entry at the end of December talking about the problems with lamp post caches (LPCs). Barely three days later there was an bomb-scare incident in Plano, Texas involving a lamp post cache in a parking lot. I contacted the Plano Police Department to learn more about the incident.
Around 1pm on January 4th, the police department in Plano received a call from security officers at a local Wal-Mart store reporting suspicious activity around the base of a light pole in their parking lot. One or more persons were observed placing something under the cover at the base of the light pole.
The object in question, of course, was the container for a lamp post cache (LPC) that had been placed in the Wal-Mart parking lot without the knowledge of Wal-Mart.
According to one of the Public Information Officers at the Plano Police Department, had the geocacher who hid the cache contacted Wal-Mart for permission before placing the cache the 14 officers, two bomb trucks, a bomb trailer, a fire truck and a medical unit would not have been dispatched. Instead, they had to be dispatched to respond to an unknown device, a situation that may cause concerns for responding officers. And they were there about 3 hours before the incident ended at 4:21pm.
“If the individuals hiding the item would of contacted Wal Mart this would not of happened” [sic] said Officer Rick McDonald of the Plano Police Department in an email to me earlier yesterday (Tuesday). He also noted that “with the times of today Homeland Security issues are very high and suspicious activity around populated stores draws a lot of curious calls.” Police encourage the reporting of suspicious activities like those the security officers observed.
In this case a non-trivial amount of manpower was expended because someone didn’t follow the rules, specifically the one that says “you assure us that you have adequate permission to hide your cache in the selected location.” Because the investigation was on-going, Officer McDonald could not comment as to whether the owner of the cache in question has been contacted by the police. He was able to confirm that the cache container was not destroyed by the bomb squad.
If the geocaching community as a whole doesn’t exercise better judgement and respect the fairly simple self-imposed rules in place with respect to placing geocaches, we will increasingly find ourselves unwelcome where we previously were.