Orem police and the FBI are investigating whether a pair of bomb threats at the same Macey's grocery store earlier this week are connected to a larger scam involving similar threats in at least 10 states.

On Monday, the grocery store at 800 N. State St. received calls at 4:30 a.m. and 7:10 a.m. from a man saying there was a bomb in the building. During the first call, an employee was asked to put money on the front desk.

The store was evacuated each time, and a bomb squad was called, but no explosive devices were found.

Now, the FBI and Orem police are looking into whether that incident is connected to several similar threats around the country since Sunday.

Special Agent Jason Pack, with the FBI's main headquarters in Washington, D.C., said his office was coordinating the information gathered by local police agencies. The scheme so far has targeted banks and "other commercial outlets," he said.

In Rhode Island, a bomb threat Tuesday caused the evacuation of a Wal-Mart and led employees to wire $10,000 to the caller. There have been similar threats in Phoenix, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Pack said investigators did not know Wednesday why the stores that received the threats were picked or if it was done completely at random.

An anonymous caller made a bomb threat Tuesday against a Dillons grocery in Hutchinson, Kan., demanding that the store wire money to his bank account and ordering everyone in the store to disrobe. No one was injured, and no money was paid, police said. On Wednesday, two other stores in Hutchinson also received bomb threats, said police Lt. Steven Nelson.

Authorities said the caller Tuesday appeared to have visual access to the grocery, although officials were investigating whether the caller was out of state and may have hacked into the store's security system.

"If they can access the Internet, they can get to anything," Hutchinson Police Chief Dick Heitschmidt said. "Anyone in the whole world could have access, if that's what really happened."

The FBI was looking into whether the calls to the banks and stores were being placed from overseas and was compiling reports from local police departments to probe for similarities between the cases, FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said from Washington Wednesday.

"At this point, there's enough similarities that we think it's potentially one person or one group," Kolko said.

Police in Virginia said a similar threat was made at a store there on Tuesday. In that case, no money was sent and no bomb was found.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com