A geocaching container was mistaken for a pipe bomb at Talking Water Gardens on Thursday afternoon, and an Oregon State Police bomb squad responded to detonate the device.

Sgt. Stephanie Warren of the Albany Police Department said it was extremely poor judgement to use a section of dark-painted PVC pipe, capped at both ends, as a geocaching container.

Even the bomb squad couldn’t tell if the cache was an explosive device, she added.

Albany police, fire and parks employees responded to the popular wetlands walking area at about 1:11 p.m. Talking Water Gardens was closed for about two hours, and a fire engine was on standby as the bomb squad examined the device.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Warren said. “I am not happy. I think it’s ridiculous. Who does that in today’s day and age?”

She added that in similar incidents in the future, police may cite those responsible for disorderly conduct, as well as bill them for the emergency service response.

In geocaching, participants hide and seek containers called caches. The caches are found using GPS or other navigational techniques, and the containers often include a scrap of paper that serves as a logbook and treasures of  little to no monetary value.

Tom Ten Pas, city of Albany wetlands manager, said walkers noticed the cache on  Wednesday and thought it was suspicious. One of them looked online and saw pipe bombs that looked similar.

“They came out again (Thursday), saw it was there, called police and alerted us,” Ten Pas said.

“Obviously, it was much ado about nothing, but we didn’t know that,” he said.

Warren said that until bomb squad workers destroyed the container, they weren’t sure if it was metal or plastic.

Ten Pas said geocachers should use clear plastic containers, such as Tupperware, so people can see what is inside.

Using a pipe with screw caps on both ends is asking for a problem, he added.

“If we can educate geocache folks so they don’t do this in the future, this incident will have been beneficial,” Ten Pas said.

 

(4) comments

scorpion

Being an avid cacher, we have actually found this very same cache. When we found it it was out in the open and not really very well hidden at its location. We tried to hide it much better and still be at the coordinates listed, although the cover there was not that great. Who knows how it was left after others found it after us. But I can see how it could look a little ominous, being a little black pipe with caps on both ends. According to geo-cache rules these container should be plainly marked on the outside as such. Being camoflaged or darkened to make it harder to spot is part of the hobby, so others do not come across it and avoid situations like this, or from the caches from being stolen or removed as litter. This particular container was not marked, and could appear ominous.
That being said, people really have got to come down and not over-react to every "unknown object". Lets be real, it was barely bigger than a tube of lipstick .By doing so, you are allowing the terrorists of the world to win. They want you to live in fear, stay home and pull the curtains closed and be afraid of them. That way they control you.
This is ment to be a fun, family friendly hobby. It gets people to come out and see the Talking Waters Gardens, or other places of interest. The visitor association also uses Geocaching events to promote Albany. And......there are several more caches located in the Talking Waters Park. I would encourage Sgt Stephanie Warren, Tom Ten Pas or whoever to talk to the local, experienced cachers, and get to know the Geocache.com reviewers for this area. That way you can contact them when these issues arise. And this is at least the 2nd one that I have heard about in the last year.

snapz01
snapz01

Well said. Yes alot of bad in the world. I have to say even with precautions and the "better safe then sorry" mentality I am kinda sad that the bomb squad didnt know what it was. Come on. I to am a avid cacher. Its a fun thing that our family, and another do each week. It gets us out of the house and exploring trails, parks, historical markers that typically most people wouldnt see. Heck my five year old finds them randomly when we arent even cahcing. And she is able to tell the difference from a cache container. Just saying. There are proper proceders for us to place a cache it should have had permisson to be there. I love to find unique/ creative ones that people take a lot of time to make and hide. In order to place a cache we do however need permisson. I have placed a few up here in the Portland area, and I had to call parks and rec. or chamber of commerce, etc. etc. Had this been done? If so who dropped the ball lol. I just don't see why this made it to the news when there are plenty of other stories. What a waste. Congrats...

wendells28
wendells28

After reading this story in the morning we decided to add this one to our list today. I looked to see if any caches in the area has been disabled or labled need maintnenc, then we headed out. We arrived at a possible location and found we were at the right spot by the scattered fragments of black 3quarter inch PVC

wendells28
wendells28

With all the money they are complaining that they wasted, you would think they would, at the least, pick up the mess they decided to make

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