Detonating Geo-Bomb Scares

David Brierley doesn’t want his hobby to bomb. So much so that he’s paying to advertise a Geocaching.com bookmark list detailing hides which have disgraced the sport.

The Massachusetts resident (GC handle: dbrierley) says he started his Bad Ideas, Bomb Scares Etc public bookmark list in 2009 so “geocachers might give more careful thought about cache placement”.

“Initially, the listings came from another bookmark list, Bomb Scares and Other Fun Stuff, which is not currently maintained. Since then, most listings are found through media reports on Google News.”

Others are gleaned from the GC.com forums or submitted by the geo-community.

Although most of Brierley’s criminal caches are from the United States, the list includes examples from Canada, Finland, Britain, Germany, Spain and South Africa. Where possible, he has linked to news reports on each bomb scare, forum discussions and highlighted nearby hides.

When asked if society has become too jumpy about geocaching-related bomb scares, Brierley carefully considers his response. “As a whole, law enforcement seems to be aware of geocaching, but even if something looks like a geocache it doesn’t mean it is a geocache, so caution is needed.”

However, he admits it’s hard to tell if  the frequency of such incidents has increased over time – even if it seems like there is a new scare every month or so. A quick Google search reveals at least six this year alone.

But as not all incidents are reported by the media, Brierley cannot accurately correlate his data. “It seems that a few bomb scares will happen in a short period of time and then there is a quiet period, followed by another cluster of bomb scares.”

Nor is he in a position to predict the result of all this bad publicity. “I believe a situation in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a few years ago resulted in geocaching being banned there for a time, but the ban was lifted.

“A bigger concern than bomb scares may be conflicts with landowners.  A cache placed without permission on private property in California resulted in a geocacher being shot in the leg; the landowner faced criminal charges.”

While Brierley won’t pinpoint any “favourites” from the list, he is pleased that other geocachers find its contents useful and often provide him with new material.

He decided to promote his bookmark list using Google’s word-search advertising  function as a way of spreading his safety message. “Nearly all of the items in the list are archived and are not searchable in GC.com. Archived cache listings can only be accessed by logging in, so they are not searchable through search engines.

“This makes some other form of promotion necessary to raise awareness about a bookmark list.”

And in It’s Not About The Numbers‘ view that’s not a bad idea at all.

*If you know of a geocache listing that deserves to be on David Brierley’s Bad Ideas, Bomb Scares Etc list, let us know in the comments below.


David Brierley shared another good idea with It’s Not About The Numbers – how to search for a GC.com bookmark list on Google. He suggests typing in the phrase ‘site:geocaching.com/bookmarks‘ with your query . “For example, searching for ‘site:geocaching.com/bookmarks puzzles’ would produce links to bookmark lists that mention puzzles.”


  1. Pete

    You’re obviously not aware of our own proud contender in this category?


    1. kjwx

      I doubt there are many geocachers in New Zealand who don’t know about our own infamous bomb scare. David Brierley is also aware of it. (Don’t worry Cumbyrocks, I don’t think he knows about your Gore incident.)
      My request was more aimed at our international readership, especially those who may know of scares that weren’t reported on the news. But it’s worth noting again that Brierley’s list is not just about bomb threats, he’s also keen to learn of other major incidents caused by poor cache placement.

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