By Matt Pearce
8:30 AM PDT, June 12, 2013
No bombs, so life will go on. Again. As it does.
Princeton University exhaled after police determined that a vague phone threat made to multiple buildings on the campus turned out to be an apparent hoax.
But before the campus could relax, the people filed out. Sniffer dogs filed in. Then the threat disappeared. Life carried on.
As far as tradition goes, bomb threats are like the campaign promises of the crime world: Often cliche; regularly untrue; but never, ever ignorable.
That's because sometimes the bombs are indeed real. Violent crime is at almost historically low levels in the United States, but the bomb threat refuses to die out.
And schools remain a common target.
According to Center for Problem-Oriented Policing data, between 1990 and 2002 schools across the country reported 1,055 "bomb incidents" — the discovery of bomb lookalikes or actual explosives. Only 14 of those incidents came with warnings — just 1%, but enough to make authorities take threats seriously.
On Tuesday — the day of the threat at Princeton — an ugly pattern of threats repeated itself again and again.
In Georgia, threats forced the evacuation of the state's Supreme Court and offices for its attorney general. People filed out. Sniffer dogs filed in. The threat disappeared. Life carried on.
The University of New Hampshire in Durham also got its very own vague threat. People filed out. Sniffer dogs filed in. The threat disappeared. Life carried on.
And then there was Richmond International Airport in Virginia, where another threat halted flights and prompted a search of the terminals.
People out, dogs in. Nobody found a bomb, and the good people of Virginia started flying home again.
The Newton County Courthouse in Missouri got its very own bomb threat early Tuesday; the promised detonation time, 9 a.m., came and went without incident.
There's been no word on whether any of the threats are linked.
Even before Tuesday's string of delays and evacuations, bomb threats came in the night before — and to diverse targets.
On Monday night, Southwest Airlines passengers were jetting from Los Angeles to Austin when a bomb threat forced the plane to land in Phoenix for an inconvenient twice-over by TSA. (There was no bomb). In North Dakota on Monday night, when a man called a threat into a Hugo's grocery store. (There was no bomb.)
At yet another school on Tuesday — Morristown High School in New Jersey — a bomb threat was triggered by graffiti in a boy's bathroom discovered last week. According to the Daily Record, the graffiti used the word "bomb," included words "for real," and mentioned Tuesday's date.
A classroom was evacuated after a teacher noticed a suspicious package.
It turned out to be a lunchbox.
The Record reported that after-school activities were then canceled for the rest of the year. Just to be safe.
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