Tips for Geocaching Game

The Midland Police Department wants to inform the public about an ongoing popular game called Geocaching.  The game has impacted the City and the MPD wants to help spread the word about the high tech game, hoping to prevent future problems.

On the afternoon of January 8, 2010, the Midland Police Department responded to a call in which it was reported that a citizen witnessed a person place a pipe bomb at the base of a light pole in the crowded parking lot of the Academy Store, 5300 W. Wadley.  Not knowing what the suspicious device was, the police followed their established protocol, in which necessary precautions were taken, including calling the bomb unit.  Hours later, it was discovered the camouflage covered tube only looked like a bomb.  It was in fact, part of the geocaching game.

This high-tech treasure hunting game is played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, and then share experiences online.  Unfortunately the game has caused similar responses by police in other areas of the United States, and even in other countries.

This was not the first incident the MPD responded to involving a geocache.  Unfortunately, in the age of terrorism, the incidents demand specialized resources, as the situations must be treated with the highest precautionary measures.  In the case of the incident in the Academy parking lot, the responsible party was charged for the personnel time and resources.

Tips for safe geocaching can be found on a variety of websites.  However, in the two incidents involving the MPD, these safe practices were not followed.  Listed are some main tips for geocachers.

  1. Before placing a geocache on private property seek permission of the property owner.
  2. Before placing a geocache on public property, seek out the property manager, or the government agency responsible for the property, and determine if there are any rules that apply to leaving the object there.
  3. Do not put leave a geocache that looks suspicious, looks like an explosive device, or in any way could cause public alarm.
  4. Be thoughtful in your actions.  When depositing a geocache, consider whether or not you might appear suspicious.
  5. Never place geocaches near dams, airports, railroads, or other areas that would be considered sensitive targets for terrorist activities.