Jitters over package

A strange looking container that sent police and a bomb sniffing dog to the U.S. Post Office in Marietta Tuesday turned out to be a piece from a game similar to a scavenger hunt.

The container, which was a tall PVC pipe wrapped in camouflage duct tape, was found in the employee parking shortly before 8 a.m., said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite.

“It was about 10 feet off the(River) Trail,” he said.

The post office was closed to the public for approximately 45 minutes and traffic on the River Trail was stopped while the Marietta Police Department investigated the package. A bomb sniffing dog from the Parkersburg Fire Department ultimately determined the container was harmless, said Waite.

The pipe was determined to be a geocache, he said.

A geocache is a container that is hidden at a specific set of coordinates to be found by participants in a global treasure hunting game known as geocaching.

Typically the containers have objects inside of them, with the most recent person to find the container replacing the object inside with his or her own personal item.

However, this was not the case with this object, said Waite.

“(The pipe) was checked and found to be empty,” he said. “We think somebody picked it up and threw it near the post office.”

The Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau placed several of their own geocaches along the River Trail for Marietta’s 225th birthday celebration last year.

However, the object in question was not one of its containers, confirmed Jeri Knowlton, executive director of the visitors bureau.

In fact, Sgt. Rod Hupp said the owner had been located Tuesday and the object was returned to him.

Originally the cache had been hidden on the Harmar Railroad Bridge but was stolen a couple months ago, said Hupp.

He said the owner was free to return it there.

“The only reason it was an issue was because somebody decided to steal it,” he said.

The potential threat was called in by a post office employee who had correctly followed protocol by alerting police and post office management, said David Van Allen, regional spokesman for the postal service.

“We do a (lesson) to know how to recognize suspicious mail and suspicious packages…It was a PVC pipe with a cap screwed on the edge so it looked pretty odd,” he said.

Though the post office was temporarily closed, the incident had little impact on Tuesday’s delivery of the mail, said Van Allen.

“There was maybe a 15-minute delay,” he said.