Bomb threat could be linked to popular game

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  Some people in Fort Wayne think a bomb threat that shut down part of Parnell Avenue early Monday morning might have been linked to a popular hobby.

Police closed Parnell Avenue between E. California Road (just north of Coliseum) and N. Clinton Street for around an hour on Monday after getting a call about a suspicious object.

According to an officer on the scene, a landscape crew at Applebee’s found a suspicious object in a tree close to the restaurant.  A team of hazardous technicians were called out to investigate.

However, people who participate in a game called geocaching said they are familiar with the location, and some have even found a similar cache at the same location.

Geocaching is described as a modern day treasure hunt. People use GPS signals to find more than two million little containers placed in various locations around the world, including 750 in Allen County.The geocaches come in all shapes and sizes. They can travel from state to state and even be smaller than a fingertip. However, the game has its challenges.

“People who don’t know of geocaching stumble across these containers, and they don’t know what it is so…they call in the police,” Matt Herald, who’s been geocaching for 11 years, said.

That’s what he and many others think might have happened Monday behind Applebee’s. The Geocache website has people who review the locations of the geocaches. Those people are in contact with the various bomb squads across the state to inform the police of where they are located and what they look like. Bomb squads are familiar with the game and have precautions to deal with them, but it’s still policy for any suspicious package to be blown up.

“Anytime we do anything like that at all, we always err on the side of caution,” said Jeff Foust, an Allen County bomb technician and detective on the scene. “You can’t take any chances anymore.”

The game has rules and guidelines that are preached to all participants such as objects can’t be put near schools, active railroad tracks, or other dangerous places. Cachers said people are also supposed to ask permission before putting items on private property.

Local geocachers said Monday’s incident is the closest scare they’ve had to home, but it’s not uncommon. There are more than two million geocaches worldwide, and similar situations happen every couple weeks.



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