A humble geocache brought an English town to a halt this week, after it was mistaken for a terrorist bomb.
Coffee shop owner Karen Brittain called the police after she saw a man furtively fumbling with a sealed plastic box, hiding it under a waste bin on the street, then walking away quickly with a cell phone held to his ear. She’d not heard of geocaching before. Well, what would you do?
The police took the call seriously. They sealed off the area, evacuated the street, closed surrounding roads, and brought in robots to destroy the suspected home-made bomb.
Geocaching, for those not in the know, is a fun hobby involving hiding stuff for other people to find.
Most caches comprise a small sealed plastic box, inside of which there’s a logbook, and perhaps a little token or gift. The hider records the box’s location online, but only in the form of GPS co-ordinates and perhaps a cryptic clue. The precise hiding place can often be very tricky to find.
Geocachers go hunting with GPS devices in hand. Having found the right spot, they’ll hunt high and low, looking in all sorts of nooks and crannies, trying to find the box. It’s a real life treasure hunt, and yes, there are apps for it.
The unfortunate geocacher in Wetherby, North Yorkshire, was given a caution – the U.K. police term for a verbal slap on the wrist – and told not to cache things in such suspicious places in future.
[via BBC News]