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Geocache

A geocache, seen here lodged in a fence post on the southeast side of Moville, caused a panic Friday night when officials feared the object could be a bomb. 

MOVILLE, Iowa -- A geocache left in a fence post southeast of Moville on Friday night caused a considerable commotion for law enforcement, who worried the strange, duct-taped object could be a bomb. 

The incident began around 7:30 p.m. Friday, when an individual -- officials aren't sure who -- left a mysterious object stuffed into a fence post along Frontage Road on the southeast side of the Woodbury County town. The person who left the object ran away. 

An eyewitness called the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office. 

"They were a little suspicious already, and then they went and looked at it, and it looked weird," so they called law enforcement, said Woodbury County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Tony Wingert.

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"Law enforcement looked at it and went, 'Yeah, it's weird,' so we called the Fire Marshals, and they took every precaution, as they should, to find out what was in there." 

Wingert described the object's appearance as a "duct-taped bulb," about the size of a baseball, shaped somewhat like a cone. Officials worried it could be an explosive. 

On the recommendation of the State Fire Marshal, a portion of Highway 20 was shut down for a few hours as authorities probed the object.

A Fire Marshal bomb squad robot was sent in, manipulating the object, removing part of it and crushing it slightly. It did not explode. 

Officials discovered the object was in fact a harmless geocache, a pastime where people seek "caches" left by others, using coordinates.

Geocaching.com describes the treasure-hunting activity as "a real-world, outdoor adventure that is happening all the time, all around the world. To play, participants use the Geocaching app and/or a GPS device to navigate to cleverly hidden containers called geocaches." 

Whoever left it provided a handy bit of evidence to that effect. 

"There was a piece of paper in there with coordinates and it said, 'Geocache' on it," Wingert said with a laugh. "In law enforcement, we call that a clue." 

With the threat vanquished, and because it was not an explosive device, an investigation was not initiated, Wingert said. The identity of the person who left the geocache could remain a mystery.  

"If it was a device, then we were going to kick in the investigation," Wingert said. "We didn't want to get ahead of ourselves." 

Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew apparently took the whole incident in stride, writing on Twitter Friday night: 

"All Clear in Moville. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. That's a new one you just never know.

"I'm wondering whatever happened to hide and seek and kick the can.  Geocaching, sounds like fun but don't try it in North Korea it's not legal. In the end, we all are happy with the outcome and learned something new to us!" 

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