Modern treasure hunt game piece prompts police response



Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Mike Knotts makes a call after taping off an area at The Columbian late Tuesday morning after a suspicious canister was found outside the office.

One of many hidden prizes from a modern-day treasure hunting game prompted police response Tuesday morning after a newspaper employee found a suspicious device.

Columbian mail clerk Terri Heine was standing outside the newspaper’s building, 701 W. Eighth St., about 10:15 a.m. when an SUV passed by.

Two men got out of the vehicle and started digging through some nearby bushes.

Another co-worker yelled at the men.

“They both jumped in the car and took off really fast,” Heine said.

Inside the bushes, Heine found a camera film canister with black tape wrapped around it and a wire sticking out.

Concerned, she called police, who responded and cordoned off a small area around the bush. A bomb technician was called to investigate.

Sgt. Mike Knotts said that Monday’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon had little to do with the decision to call the bomb squad.

“I won’t say it isn’t on people’s minds … we’re just trying to take some caution,” he said.

A short time later, Mike Rogers, another Columbian employee, saw the crime scene and revealed the item’s true identity to police: it was a piece from a game called geocaching.

Participants in the game navigate their way to GPS coordinates in search of hidden geocache, or containers. Hundreds of these containers, which vary in shape and size, are in Vancouver.

Rogers showed the iPhone app to the officer, and police opened the canister to find a list of game participants.

Luckily, Knotts said the bomb technician did not detonate the item.

“The next geocacher can find it again,” he said. “We won’t mess up the game.”