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Police May Charge Geocachers Over Bomb Scare

Suspicious package: A bomb squad officer handles the offending geocache in Mansfield, Ohio. Photo: Jami Kinton/Mansfield News Journal

Suspicious package: … but inside all the bomb squad found was a small, plastic frog and a logsheet. Photo: Jami Kinton/Mansfield News Journal

An American couple may face felony charges for inducing public panic after their new geocache sparked a three-hour bomb alert.

Ohio’s Scott Toney and his wife Kathryn (GC handle: tygerkat) say they are taken aback by the events surrounding GC46GXZ Will I Be The 2,000,000th Cache? – especially as their latest hide on a public guardrail outside Mansfield’s Sterkel Park had the approval of the local parks department.

“We chose to put it there because we drive by that area all the time and it’s sort of fun to see people stopped there and searching for it,” Kathryn told the Mansfield News Journal after Monday’s bomb scare. “It was also far enough away from the other geocaches in Sterkel Park.”

Crime scene: A Mansfield resident snaps two bomb squad officers approaching GZ.

Crime scene: A Mansfield resident snaps two bomb squad officers approaching GZ.

However, Detective Joe Petrycki advised that an incident report would be sent to the Mansfield law director’s office to see if felony charges were warranted. “There was a lot of time, manpower and resources that went into this.”

The incident began about 2pm on Monday when local man Joel Smith spotted two people at Winwood Drive and Hollywood Lane as he drove to pick up his wife.

“We’ve had so many break-ins in this neighborhood that I always like to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. It appeared like they were exchanging papers or envelopes. I did a three-point turn and was going to go back to try and get a picture, but they were already zooming past when I turned around.”

When Smith looked behind the guardrail where the pair had stood, he found a small yellow box duct-taped. He alerted the Mansfield Police Department, which called in the Ashland County Bomb Squad, Mansfield Fire Department and Richland County Sheriff’s Office to investigate.

Several hours later, police received a tip that the yellow container was a geocache. It had been placed at GZ on February 23rd.

“I can’t believe this has happened again,” local geocacher Steve Zigmund told Mansfield News Journal reporter Jami Kinton. “The police just went through a similar situation in Loudonville and then again in Ashland in the past year. These are hidden all over the place.”

Upon opening GC46GXZ, authorities found a small, plastic frog and “a few notes” from the Toneys.

The couple, both teachers, have been geocaching for almost four years without problems. “We’ve travelled all over the country doing this,” Scott said. “We enjoy the hunt. You go into the woods, into the community, all kinds of settings. We often bring our dog. We do it quite often; it’s a family thing.”

His wife hopes Monday’s incident will be an eye-opener for police and their community. “I want police to just be aware that this is going on. If someone calls again for something like this, they should be checking to see if a geocache is a possibility.”

*Would you be prepared to fight police charges if one of your geocaches caused a bomb scare? Tell us below …

1 comment

  1. Hensley

    After the endless false alarms, sooner or later terrorists will probably latch onto the idea and start leaving bombs in geocaches. That will put the cat among the pigeons.

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