Geocache adventure ends with discovery of explosives

VIDEO: Man finds something he wasn’t look for on scavenger hunt

EVERETT — Geocaching, a scavenger hunt done via GPS and an app, led an Everett man to stumble upon a set of explosives Saturday.

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Everett police said the man, Ray Friis, called 911 from the Silver Lake area when he discovered a bag of tennis balls near the point where the actual cache was supposed to be located. The tennis balls had fuses coming out of them.

Police arrived and rendered the explosives safe.

Friis told KIRO 7 that when he got near the cache, another object caught his eye.

“I use my cane. I never use my fingers to dig in there. You never know what you’re going to find. And I saw something a little different,” said Friis. “I touched it with my cane, and it turned out to be a wet paper bag. And it ripped open, and bombs came rolling out of it.

Officer Aaron Snell of the Everett Police Department said that if the explosives had detonated, those in the immediate area would have been injured, perhaps even killed.

“However fortunately, these needed to be lit…so we don’t believe that they were specifically set in this place to injure people,” Snell said.

Actual geocache packages are submitted to the company Groundspeak, before the clues are published on the Geocaching app.

As far as someone purposely placing a dangerous object near a real cache, Friis doesn’t think that’s likely.

Still, he and police said this scavenger hunt activity should be done with common sense and alertness, and children should always be supervised.

The Geocache app stats with a warning, saying “Geocaching can be dangerous. But then, so can anything you do outside.”

The list of guidelines for publishing geocaches appears on the company’s website:

Technical Requirements

You must visit the cache location and obtain the coordinates with a GPS device. GPS usage is an integral and essential element of both hiding and seeking caches and must be demonstrated for all cache submissions. Projecting waypoints from a specific location already defined by set of coordinates is permissible. For geocaches that include additional waypoints see the guidelines specific to those cache types.

Cache listings that require a cacher to visit another website will not be published if the finder must create an account with, or provide personal information to, the other website. In the interest of file security, caches that require the installing or running of data and/or executables will likely not be published. The use of memory sticks and similar devices is not permitted.

Certain files (specifically .TXT files, .PDFs and all audio files) may be acceptable inclusions on cache listings in the interest of allowing greater cache creativity. These downloads must adhere to all geocaching guidelines and include the following text above the link:

"Alert: You are about to download a file that contains further details needed to find this geocache. As the cache owner, I represent that this file is safe to download although it has not been checked by Groundspeak or by the reviewer for possible malicious content. Download this file at your own risk. [insert link here]"

Geocache Maintenance

As the owner of your cache listing, your responsibility includes quality control of all posts to the cache listing. Delete any logs that appear to be bogus, counterfeit, off-topic or otherwise inappropriate.

You are responsible for occasional visits to your cache to ensure it is in proper working order, especially when someone reports a problem with the cache (missing, damaged, wet, etc.), or posts a Needs Maintenance log. Temporarily disable your cache to let others know not to search for it until you have addressed the problem. You are permitted a reasonable amount of time – generally up to 4 weeks – in which to check on your cache. If a cache is not being maintained, or has been temporarily disabled for an unreasonable length of time, we may archive the listing.

The region in which a cacher is considered able to maintain caches responsibly will vary from person to person. A cacher who has previously logged caches within a wide range of their home may be considered able to maintain a geocache 200 miles (322 km) away. However, someone whose geocaching activities have primarily been within 25 miles (40 km) of home may not be able to maintain a geocache this far from home. This factor is determined at the discretion of the cache reviewer or Groundspeak.

Because of the effort required to maintain a geocache, please place physical caches in your usual caching area and not while traveling. Caches placed during travel will likely not be published unless you are able to provide an acceptable maintenance plan. This plan must allow for a quick response to reported problems, and might include the username of a local cacher who will handle maintenance issues in your absence. Alternatively you might train a local person to maintain the cache. Document your maintenance plan in a Note to Reviewer on your cache listing. This should include contact information of the maintainer. The note will auto-delete on publication.

Geocache Contents

For all physical caches, there must be a logbook, scroll or other type of log for geocachers to record their visit.

Explosives, fireworks, ammunition, lighters, knives (including pocket knives and multi-tools), drugs, alcohol and any illicit material should not be placed in a cache. Geocaching is a family-friendly activity and cache contents should be suitable for all ages.
If someone other than you places an inappropriate item in a cache that you own and this is reported, the cache may be temporarily disabled. As the cache owner, you may be asked to remove the questionable item before the cache listing is re-enabled.

Food items or scented items are inappropriate and disallowed. Animals have a keen sense of smell and have been known to destroy containers to get to these items. Items that may melt in the heat, such as crayons or lip balm, or expand in the cold, such as liquids, should also be excluded from caches.

Solicitation and Commercial Content

Cache listings perceived to be posted for religious, political, charitable or social agendas are not permitted. Geocaching is intended to be an enjoyable, family-friendly hobby, not a platform for an agenda. Cache pages cannot require, and should not strongly encourage, the placement of new caches. This is considered an agenda and the listing will not be publishable.

Cache listings perceived as commercial will not be published. A commercial cache listing has one or more of the following characteristics:

It has overtones of advertising, marketing or promotion.

It suggests or requires that the finder go inside a business, interact with employees and/or purchase a product or service.

It contains links to businesses, agencies, commercial advertisers, charities, or political or social agendas.

It contains the logo of a business or organization, including non-profit organizations.

It contains the name of a business or commercial product.

Geocache Permanence

Cachers will expect your cache to remain in place for a realistic and extended period of time. Therefore, caches that have the goal to move (traveling caches), or temporary caches (caches hidden for less than 3 months or for one-time events) will not be published.

Submitting a Geocache Listing

Submit the cache listings at least ten days in advance of the requested release date. Post a Note to Reviewer on the cache listings requesting that the caches be published on the date specified. Reviewers will strive to accommodate reasonable requests. Caches placed in connection with an event must be left in place after the event. See "Geocache Permanence" above.

Your cache should be in place and ready to be found at the time your cache listing is enabled online. If the cache is not ready for seeking, disable your cache listing so that it won't appear in the review queue and post a Reviewer Note explaining special circumstances, such as awaiting permission from a land manager.