Empty shoebox triggers alarm

AN empty shoebox was all it took to spark an evacuation at Coffs Harbour Education Campus yesterday.

A security guard raised the alarm just after 10.30am when he discovered a suspicious package in a toilet on the top floor of A Block.

Officials responded swiftly by evacuating some 200 students and staff from the building, which houses 20 rooms including computer labs, teaching areas and video conference facilities.

Police and firefighters rushed to the scene to investigate and immediately cordoned off the area.

Coffs/Clarence crime manager, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay, emerged from the building at 11.18am with a plastic Payless Shoes bag containing the empty shoebox.

He said it appeared someone had accidentally left the box behind.

"I would like to remind people in public areas to be careful about what they leave lying around," Mr Lindsay said.

"What may appear at the time to be an innocent act can result in a significant response by emergency services.

"It is taking these services away from other areas of !need."

Mr Lindsay praised education campus management for acting quickly, while CHEC executive director, Bob Prater, said he was pleased 'we were able to manage the risk'.

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