A geocache. Photo: Daniel Catt CC-BY-SA-2.0

A geocache. Photo: Daniel Catt CC-BY-SA-2.0

A suspect device, the discovery of which paralysed a Yorkshire town centre for three hours, was blown up by the Army – and found to be a geocache.

A cafe owner tipped off police after spotting a man placing a container under a flower box in Wetherby last Friday.

West Yorkshire Police sealed off the area and a bomb disposal crew from the Royal Logistic Corps was called to deal with the object.

A controlled explosion set off by an Army robot left pieces of the plastic box and its contents scattered across the street. Residents and business occupiers were allowed to return after the three-hour evacuation.

Geocaching, where participants use Global Positioning System devices to hunt down the plastic boxes containing a log book and often small trinkets, has grown in popularity over recent years and many of the caches are located in rural areas throughout Britain.

Police have questioned the wisdom of placing the boxes in urban areas in a time of heightened tension over terrorism attacks. The Home Office’s official current threat from international terrorism is rated severe, meaning a terrorist attack is highly likely.

Chief Inspector Mick Hunter of West Yorkshire Police told the BBC: “In placing the caches, what I would say is, please apply some commonsense to where you put them.”

For anyone considering placing a geocache in an urban location, he added: “If you feel as though you have to do that, then perhaps contact the police let us know where it is, give us a description and perhaps a picture and a contact number would be very useful.”