GRAND FORKS – A suspicious item in a treeline near University Avenue and 48th Street in Grand Forks was identified as a geocache in a PVC pipe by police Sunday but only after bomb squad officers blew it up.
The plastic pipe had caps on both ends and was painted a dark color.
"It could easily be thought of as a pipe bomb," UND Police Sgt. Danny Weigel said.
At about 3:45 p.m., a "concerned citizen" called in a "suspicious item that didn't look like it belonged there" to Grand Forks Police, Weigel said. Weigel said the caller was playing baseball or lacrosse and noticed the item in the tree line along Interstate 29 near the National Weather Service office and Jaycees Park.
About 5:10 p.m., an officer yelled "fire in the hole" three times and then two pops went off. Weigel said the pops were two charges used to blow off one of the caps on the pipe.
About five minutes after the pops, an officer put on a bomb suit and carried a shovel out into the grassy area to pick up pieces. A police robot was used to approach the item and see what it was.
Geocaching is a treasure-hunting activity in which participants use GPS devices or other methods to find hidden "caches" or items placed in public places by other players.
During the incident, police blocked traffic on University Avenue east of the interstate overpass and redirected traffic.
Weigel said placing geocaches is not illegal, but citizens should let public safety authorities know where they plan on placing the geocache first.