MARSHALL, Mo. (AP) - A suspicious object that prompted the evacuation of a Walmart store in central Missouri and the help of bomb experts from Whiteman Air Force Base turned out to be part of a geocaching game.
An employee at the Walmart found a tube wrapped in electrical tape with a small metal tab on one end sitting near the store Wednesday afternoon.
Surveillance tape showed three males placing the object near the store in a spot where it could not be seen unless someone was looking for it. The three then re-entered the store.
It was that suspicious activity that prompted the evacuation, Marshall police spokesman Roger Gibson told The Marshall Democrat-News reports (http://bit.ly/KAZine ).
"We decided to err on the side of caution," he added. "You never know with these things."
Two units from Whiteman with bomb-sniffing dogs searched the store while explosives experts examined the object. The Whiteman bomb experts used a robot to photograph the device, X-rayed it and then cut it open after determining it was harmless.
The object was so realistic the bomb team asked to keep it for training purposes," Gibson said.
The object was part of a geocaching game, where GPS and the Internet are used to hide and look for different objects, Marshall Police Chief Mike Donnell said.
Although the intent might have been innocent, Donnell said it is a federal offense to make something look like a bomb. And he noted that many people, including Walmart employees, were inconvenienced by the incident.
Donnell said police will review the surveillance video further before deciding whether to release more details about the males suspected of hiding the object.