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Geocachers Beware


teamfinch
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As fun as geocaching is, please remember to be as cautious as possible. Many parks can lull you into a false sense of security as I recently discovered.

 

It was a bright and sunny sunday afternoon, about 1:30pm. We were at Silver Lake Park in Wisconsin. It's a beautiful park, with miles of trails and a beach. I pulled into one of the lots with my family. Wife, kids, my brother and his wife...

 

My wife lingered near the parking lot to look for a micro. The rest of us went up ahead on the trail. We were searching for a cache when she caught up with us. She hadn't realized it, but about 30 seconds behind her were four guys walking two pitbulls. It's difficult for me to describe just how out of place these guys looked, it was just wrong. They were very quiet too. When they saw the larger group, they looked around at us and moved on down the trail.

 

It could be that I was just imagining their intent, but they were so far out of place that it stuck in my head. Their shoes were wrong for the woods. Their clothes were completely out of place. Their demeanor, their look, was just completely wrong. Nobody dresses or acts like that on a hike. My wife was upset when she saw them. She hadn't heard them behind her when she was on the trail.

 

Anyway, we cached for about an hour more. When we returned to our van, the drivers side window was smashed in with a rock and we had a bunch of stuff stolen. I'm not saying that the window and the guys with the pitbulls were connected. Just nothing the strangeness of it all.

 

I know this is a common sense warning, but I'm gonna say it anyway. Geocaching often takes you far away from civilization. Use caution. Don't leave your group. Be wary. Watch where you park, etc. I almost feel lucky that all we got was a busted up van that day.

 

You can see pics and read the story from the cache here under the cache log for teamfinch GC127BH

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I've read the forums where people have mentioned finding dead bodies, homeless, druggies, etc, etc and now will not cache alone for that very reason. My hubby goes with me almost every time and we don't go out of each others sight.

 

Sucks about your van, window replacement isn't too cheap, but better damage to the van then to one of your group.

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There are many types of people out their. Most are good some are not. It is a shame that the bad make things hard on most people. Where ever you are you need to pay attention to what is going on around you.

 

This was not from caching. I had a friend down in FL. Many years ago his wife and a friend of theirs were in a local park (to them) walking on paved walking trails. She had stopped to do something and told them to keep on going she will catch up shortly. When she left the Bldg she went into to she noticed a couple of guys that started to follow her. She speed up and meat up with her husband and friend. She told them she thought those guys were following her. Their friend turned and looked at the two guys and did not like their looks. She pulled the digital camera out of her purse and took their pictures. They turned and ran away. Their friend got on his cell phone and called in a couple of his co-workers. They then turned and made their way back to their cars. At the cars was a PD Officer waiting for them. They filled out a report. Their friend wanted copies of the photos when they downloaded them. They sent the pictures to him as soon as they got home. The next day their friend did some research at work and found out who these 2 guys were. These 2 guys are well known to PD. They have been in and out of the legal system so many times they know it very well. Their friend is a PD officer.

 

You never know who you are going to meet up with when you are out and about. Not just caching but every day of you life.

 

kf4oox - Paul

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Ah, dont be so quick to judge. Although, I commend you on your survival sense.

I have worked with search & rescue for years in MA. You'd be surprised at how many people go out unprepared. We found a kid a few years back in NH who had died from exposure. He went out, into the white mountains, with a jean jacket on. This kid, IIRC, was fairly experienced in the woods. Not something you'd expect from him.

Again, I think you did great, both hiking in groups, and having that heightened sense. I just wanted to point out that not all folks who go outdoors regularly prepare for it.

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There are many types of people out their. Most are good some are not. It is a shame that the bad make things hard on most people. Where ever you are you need to pay attention to what is going on around you.

 

This was not from caching. I had a friend down in FL. Many years ago his wife and a friend of theirs were in a local park (to them) walking on paved walking trails. She had stopped to do something and told them to keep on going she will catch up shortly. When she left the Bldg she went into to she noticed a couple of guys that started to follow her. She speed up and meat up with her husband and friend. She told them she thought those guys were following her. Their friend turned and looked at the two guys and did not like their looks. She pulled the digital camera out of her purse and took their pictures. They turned and ran away. Their friend got on his cell phone and called in a couple of his co-workers. They then turned and made their way back to their cars. At the cars was a PD Officer waiting for them. They filled out a report. Their friend wanted copies of the photos when they downloaded them. They sent the pictures to him as soon as they got home. The next day their friend did some research at work and found out who these 2 guys were. These 2 guys are well known to PD. They have been in and out of the legal system so many times they know it very well. Their friend is a PD officer.

 

You never know who you are going to meet up with when you are out and about. Not just caching but every day of you life.

 

kf4oox - Paul

 

LOL thats funny... The person who they thought was a bad guy, was actually a friend of the police! :laughing:

I don't think I'd take a picture of a mean looking person, cause if they weren't, I could end up in trouble for taking a picture of them...

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There are many types of people out their. Most are good some are not. It is a shame that the bad make things hard on most people. Where ever you are you need to pay attention to what is going on around you.

 

This was not from caching. I had a friend down in FL. Many years ago his wife and a friend of theirs were in a local park (to them) walking on paved walking trails. She had stopped to do something and told them to keep on going she will catch up shortly. When she left the Bldg she went into to she noticed a couple of guys that started to follow her. She speed up and meat up with her husband and friend. She told them she thought those guys were following her. Their friend turned and looked at the two guys and did not like their looks. She pulled the digital camera out of her purse and took their pictures. They turned and ran away. Their friend got on his cell phone and called in a couple of his co-workers. They then turned and made their way back to their cars. At the cars was a PD Officer waiting for them. They filled out a report. Their friend wanted copies of the photos when they downloaded them. They sent the pictures to him as soon as they got home. The next day their friend did some research at work and found out who these 2 guys were. These 2 guys are well known to PD. They have been in and out of the legal system so many times they know it very well. Their friend is a PD officer.

 

You never know who you are going to meet up with when you are out and about. Not just caching but every day of you life.

 

kf4oox - Paul

 

LOL thats funny... The person who they thought was a bad guy, was actually a friend of the police! :laughing:

I don't think I'd take a picture of a mean looking person, cause if they weren't, I could end up in trouble for taking a picture of them...

I don't think you would get in trouble for taking a picture of a nice looking person if they are out in public. :laughing:

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LOL thats funny... The person who they thought was a bad guy, was actually a friend of the police! :)

I don't think I'd take a picture of a mean looking person, cause if they weren't, I could end up in trouble for taking a picture of them...

I don't think you would get in trouble for taking a picture of a nice looking person if they are out in public. :)

You can't!!!

 

My wife is a professional photo-journalist. There is no law in any of the 50 states or any territories of the United States that prohibits you from taking a photo or filming anyone as long as they are in public. In a private setting all you need is the owner's permission, not the permission of the person being photographed, the property owner's permission. There are absolutely NO legal recourse anyone has to stop it.

 

Now using those photos for profit without their permission is something entirely different.

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The bottom line is always follow your "gut feeling" or "that little voice" that gives you a warning. Judging on what the guys looked like or that they seemed out of place, is not the point. The fact is Teamfinch had a bad feeling and they acted safely on it. Maybe nothing would have happened. Maybe something much worse could have happened. We will never know; but Teamfinch is here to tell us all about it. Self-defence expert alway say to do a nonphysical confrontaion (Turn and get a good look at the individuals). In my opinion, if these guys with the pitbull were out for a inocent walk, I think they would have said hello to the people in front of them and continued to walk in the same direction. The fact that they turn around quickly as soon as the people in front all turned to look at them makes me wonder about their intentions too.

 

To Teamfinch: I'm sorry about the busted window and the stolen stuff. I'm sorry that a bad thing that happened to you on that day. I'm greatfull that that was the only bad thing that happened to you that day!

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I hike a lot and I was in a park that was pretty far outside of the city. I came around a bend in a trail and was faced with a group of 7 people in their late teens and early 20's. They had a pit bull and rottweiler on a leash. I would describe their appearance as typical street thug, certainly out of place this far from the trailhead. I had no option to bail out or hide so I decided to walk past them and hoped for the best.

 

As I went by I tried to look confident and gave them a casual "How's it going?" I was about 10' past them when one called back "Hey man, let me ask you a question." My internal reaction was that I was completely screwed. I knew I couldn't fight them all or outrun them. As I turned around the biggest guy in the group was stepping toward me. He then said "What's that bird singing over there?" Just then I heard a Wood Thrush and he pointed toward the sound and said "that one". I told him what it was and said the field guides describe as flutelike. He responded with a "thanks buddy" and turned back toward his group. As they started back down the trail away from me he said to another person in his group "I told you it sounded like that bird was playing an instrument."

 

I learned a lesson about people that day.

 

EDIT: typo

Edited by Runaround
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Even in cities you can find woods like this. We found (and put a cache in) a little known nature preserve in the Bronx surrounded by a very "urban" neighborhood that when you get to the cache site you see nothing but woods.

 

We think it is fairly safe but we do warn people to keep a wary eye out and have also said that if you feel nervous about going alone most certainly go in a group.

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I can sympathize about your van. I was caching alone in Cedar Hills Park in Dallas (TX) county last January. I left my car in the parking lot, right next to a busy road, in daylight. The only people I came across on the trail heading in was a man with his young son (I assume). When I came back to my rental car about two hours later, I found the passenger window smashed out. I made the mistake of leaving my briefcase on the passenger seat. They must have assumed there was a laptop in it. There wasn't. Just a bunch of crap and a couple memory sticks with work stuff on them. They missed my wallet which was in the center console.

 

Chalk it all up as a lesson learned.

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Regardless of where you are, you should not leave anything in plain sight in the vehicle, including a radar detector, phone, purse, etc... all they should see if they look in is seats and carpet. In fact, its not even a good idea to stash the valuables in the trunk when you get there -- do it before you leave the house and take anything you need with you when you get out of the car.

 

As for the caching itself, I carry pepper spray in a pouch on my caching bag, should I encounter a dog or a two-legged problem. Its legal in most places and will at least give you some get-away time.

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Your instincts were probably right-on. What a relief that no one was hurt in spite of the fact that your vehicle was damaged and items were stolen. I have sometimes been a bit overconfident when out on a geocache quest because it is such a benign activity. You're right - the woods can be dangerous for many reasons. Thanks for sharing your story and for the reminder to be safe!

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Like it has been said before. I have a friend who is ex-CIA and now he gives seminars about staying safe in these kinds of things. Trust that "bad feeling." Get a caching buddy. Keeps you safe, minimizes the muggles' questions, and it's more fun. I'm not allowed to cache alone (my dad doesn't like the thought), so I'm always with him or my boyfriend, who is much bigger than I am. Not that it's too difficult... I'm tiny. xDDDD

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