HERMITAGE — Police, firefighters and a Pittsburgh police bomb squad responded to a possible bomb Monday afternoon in the outskirts of Hermitage that turned out not to be a threat at all.
Hermitage police were called to a suspicious object just after 1 p.m. Monday in a wooded area between Saratoga Drive and Hofius Lane. The package was discovered by a local resident who was looking to set up a deer stand in the area, Hermitage police Chief Eric Jewell said.
“It was observed in a tree stump,” Jewell said. “It was covered in some leaves, but the object was made of PVC pipe, so it didn’t rust, and it had a screw-on cap, so we couldn’t physically examine it or its contents, we could just eyeball it.”
Suspecting it was an explosive device, first responders taped off the area and sent a photo of the object to the Pittsburgh bomb squad, which dispatched officers Jewell said responded to the scene.
To neutralize the object, the bomb squad used a shotgun round specifically designed to destroy potential explosives. Instead of regular shells, the rounds fire water or clay that dissipates after a few feet but completely destroys an object with high pressure, Jewell said.
However, when the bomb squad destroyed the object, it turned out it wasn’t a bomb at all — but rather, a geocache that had been left for someone to find.
Geocaching is an activity where a capsule is hidden and must be found using GPS coordinates available online. After pieces of paper came out of the object instead of parts or explosive materials, Jewell said police looked up geocaching.com and found that the object was indeed a cache.
A log inside the cache said it had been placed there in 2014 and was last discovered by someone in 2016, Jewell said.
First responders cleared the scene at about 3:15 p.m., but Jewell said it was better that the citizen and first responders erred on the side of caution.
“The concerned citizen did the right thing — he didn’t handle it, and he called us right away,” he said.
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