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Lamp post cache causes bomb-scare in Plano, Texas

January 16, 2008 @ 12:52 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Geocaching

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.

3 Responses to “Lamp post cache causes bomb-scare in Plano, Texas”


  1. Baloo says:

    If the law enforcement community as a whole doesn’t exercise better judgment and exercise fairly simple common sense with respect to geocaches, we will increasingly find ourselves paying for frivolous use of our resources.

  2. gordon says:

    Why is the onus on the police in such a situation? A property owner reported suspicious activity on their property and took the appropriate action in calling the police to report someone putting something in the base of the light post. They didn’t approach the unknown object because if it had been a bomb it could have gone off when they were examining it. I can’t fault the action of either the security guards or the police.

    All that was required to avoid the incident in Plano was for the person who hid the cache to ask Wal-Mart first. If they’d done that Wal-Mart security would have known about the geocache and not been surprised to see people acting suspiciously on their property.

    If we want to reduce such “frivolous use” of the police, we should be exercising better judgement when placing geocaches and not put them on private property without first securing permission from the landowner. And, both the placer and the seekers need to consider whether they look suspicious to people not familiar with geocaching.

    Another thing we can do is outreach. There’s nothing stopping a local geocaching association from approaching their local law enforcement community to show teach them about geocaching.

    Finally, cache reviewers can start challenging geocachers who place caches that are obviously on private property. If they look up a new geocache in something like Google Earth and see that it’s in a parking lot, they should be asking the cache owner whether they’ve obtained permission and not approve caches that have not received such permission.

    It’s common sense, really.

  3. Tex says:

    One vote for Gordon! It appears that the Plano police exercied their best judgment for the safety of the public.



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