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Forest Service Officer James Schoeffler Discovers Booby Traps While on Patrol on the Forest

Posted by Charity Parks, Public Affairs Specialist, Intermountain Region in Forestry
Feb 21, 2017

On April 16, 2012, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer James Schoeffler was on routine patrol on the Pleasant Grove Ranger District which is located on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. While on foot patrol in a popular recreation area located off Big Springs Trail in Provo Canyon, Schoeffler observed a trip wire that was barely visible along a trail. He then traced out the trip line and found a primitive type “booby trap” that was set to activate when the line was “tripped.” The device consisted of a large rock fashioned with sharpened sticks to create a large spiked ball that would potentially hit an unsuspected victim in the chest or head. Schoeffler quickly dismantled the trap and continued to check the area. During his search he discovered another trip line that was designated to send an individual falling onto a bed of sharpened wooden spikes protruding from the ground. Schoeffler dismantled this “booby trap” as well.

It was Schoeffler’s sharp eyesight, knowledge and good timing that kept someone from wandering into the traps, located about a half mile from the recreation area’s parking lot. These traps could have easily severely injured, maimed, or even killed someone recreating in the area. It just so happens that a child’s birthday party was being celebrated in the area on the day that Schoeffler discovered the traps.

Officer James Schoeffler holding the first booby trap he found while on patrol on April 16, 2012 found
Officer James Schoeffler holding the first booby trap he found while on patrol on April 16, 2012 found

Officer Schoeffler immediately notified the local Sheriff’s Office and two individuals were later arrested and charged with setting the “booby traps.” They told Utah County sheriff's deputies that they wanted to catch a wild boar, or bunnies.

On Sept. 12, Officer James Schoeffler received the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Honor Award for Heroism and Emergency Response.

Schoeffler is a combat veteran with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is specifically trained in explosives and ordinance disposal. The discovery of these devices is greatly attributed to his military training and combat experience. These heroic actions are a great reflection upon James Schoeffler’s dedication to his work as a U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer.

Forest Service Officer James Schoeffler
Forest Service Officer James Schoeffler
Category/Topic: Forestry

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Sep 18, 2012

Great woirk by a great guy

Beth L.
Sep 18, 2012

Crazy! God bless you Officer Schoeffler and your sharp eye ~your military training ~thank goodness no one was hurt!

Sep 18, 2012

Nice Job Forest Officer Schoeffler!

I am saddened that you needed to use your combat tours and training neede to be used in our National Forests.

Barbara Lee
Sep 18, 2012

Way to go James!

Rick Shafer
Sep 18, 2012

Good job Officer Schoeffler. You no doubt helped an unsuspecting victim avoid a catastrophy. Keep up the good work.

Tom Millane
Sep 21, 2012

First of all fantastic job by Officer Schoeffler, I commend you. Secondly, the culprits, what were they thinking setting this up in a park? Wild boar and bunnies? That doesn't add up.

Oct 31, 2012

Thank You! and welcome home.