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Police Search For Gamer Who Hung Geocache From Railroad Overpass

Geocaching

(Credit: CBS)

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WHEATON, Ill. (CBS) – The trendy game of Geocaching can have all the fun of an old-fashioned treasure hunt, but police in Wheaton are none too pleased at the spot some gamers picked to leave their “prize” earlier this week.

The Geocache was left hanging under the Illinois Prairie Path pedestrian overpass spanning across the Union Pacific railway tracks in the western suburb, Wheaton police Deputy Chief Tom Meloni said.

It originally caused so much alarm that the DuPage County Sheriff’s police Explosive Unit was sent out. Metra and freight trains along the Union Pacific line were delayed in the process Wednesday afternoon.

Whoever left the Geocache at the site is going to be in serious trouble, according to Meloni.

“It is unlawful for anyone to trespass upon or place any item on or near railroad property,” Meloni said in a prepared statement.

Police were called to the overpass about 1:35 p.m. Wednesday, Meloni said. That area is just north of Liberty Drive and Carlton Avenue.

A passerby reported seeing a “suspicious package” dangling over the train tracks, Meloni said. Police who were sent to the scene said “it looked like it was suspended from fishing line,” he said.

Following emergency protocol, police halted all train traffic and shuttered the overpass to pedestrians and bicyclists, Meloni said.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis confirmed three inbound and three outbound trains were delayed during the emergency. Delays ranged from 20 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes, Gillis said.

Those who believe they know who suspended the device or who have other information about the case are asked to call Wheaton police Detective Cmdr. James Volpe, at 630-260-2055.

People set up Geocaches as part of high-tech treasure hunts in which items are hidden and their coordinates are placed online for people to find. Those who are not playing the game, and who may mistake the Geocaches for something else, are colloquially called “Muggles.”

Geocaches have been mistaken for bombs or explosive devices multiple times in recent months. Just a few weeks ago in Evanston, the Cook County sheriff’s police Bomb Squad was called to Alexander Park in Evanston after someone saw what she thought might be an explosive. But it was a Geocache.

Last October in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Vacaville, Calif., an elementary school and several surrounding homes were evacuated after what was thought to be a pipe bomb was found in the parking lot, according to published reports. The device, which was detonated by a bomb squad, turned out to be a Geocache.

The Naperville Sun contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire