Geocache item mistaken as bomb in Syracuse

Jun 28 2011 - 11:45pm

FARMINGTON -- The Davis County Sheriff's Bomb Squad took first place in a two-day statewide competition, but only before disarming a geocache thought to be a bomb.

Squad members were on their way to the Utah County Thistle Range when a suspected bomb was reported across the street from the Syracuse Police Department, said Davis County Sheriff's Deputy Larry Nielsen, squad team leader.

The container, which was a camouflage military ammunition can, was about 25-feet from the opening of Syracuse Fun Center on 2000 West, said Davis County Sheriff's Sgt. Susan Poulsen.

The two squad members, Weber County Sheriff's Cpl. Chet Hartley and Deputy Brandon Miles, were heading to Farmington on June 22 to pick up the truck for the competition, when the call came in, Nielsen said. Weber and Davis counties have an inter local agreement and work together on one team.

"I'm sure the container was picked because it was watertight, but it looked suspicious, being right across the street from the police department," Nielsen said.

Squad members realized, after it was blown up, that it was a new geocache site. Geocaching is an activity where participants use a Global Positioning System to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches". A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name.

"We're asking anyone who puts anything in containers like that, to please advise the local law enforcement agency it's there and what's inside, so we don't send the entire team out," Poulsen said.

This was not the first time a geocache site was thought to contain a bomb, Nielsen said. About a year ago, the bomb squad was called to a suspected bomb behind the courthouse in Farmington, only to realize before it was a geocache site.

Miles and Hartley then headed to Utah County to compete against nine other bomb squads, including the Air Force and National Guard, in explosive ordinance disposal, Nielsen said. The competition included wearing a bomb suit while running an obstacle course, answer technical questions, run a robot through an obstacle course, tactical exercises and hazmat exercises.

Nielsen said those two were chosen to represent Davis and Weber because of staff constraints.

"We're sure proud of those two."

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