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Dressing up for social engineering?


CacheOCD
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I was wondering something. How many cachers out there dress up to avoid detection? For example. Do you put on a hard hat and bring a clipboard when looking at electrical transformers or poles to avoid raising suspicion? I just got a hard hat from someone at work just for this purpose, but I don't hear about people doing it that much. Just curious.

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I have a blue Dickies jacket and a half-size metal clipboard that I like to have along, plus boring khaki pants. I don't own a hardhat, but I would definitely keep it in the trunk if I did.

 

Once I even brought along a tape measure when some guys were hanging around an object that I suspected of holding a cache, and it was a great excuse to check out every inch of the thing.

 

- Will

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We've not done it, but then having 2 kids and a dog is great muggle distraction in and of itself. We were at an meet a few days ago where I overheard someone saying they had a high viz vest, and an official looking badge which said ''Official Slug and Snail Surveyor'' !!!!! Apparently anyone that approached him once they read the badge immediately gave him a wide berth!!!!!

Edited by 4 and The Dog
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I usually use my cell phone and cigarette. I am outside of my car to smoke my ciggarette, and I am fiddling with that do-dad because my boyfriend is boring me to death on the phone. "Yeah.....Ok.....Uh huh.....::roll eyes:: I know.....::make a get on with it motion with my hands::"

 

There is a local cache that is giving me hell and there are a bunch of electrical boxes and do-dads there....I think I'm going to take a clipboard next time.

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I act like I belong exactly where I am at the moment. Sneaky people in costume tend to draw attention. I'll also make eye contact with people and greet them but that's a carry over from some questionable neighborhoods I have lived in. Running around with your head down avoiding eye contact has easy prey written al over it.

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I cache using my phone as my GPSr. It is a touchscreen phone. I often pretend I'm texting while I'm really looking at the compass that is leading me to the cache. If I really feel the need, I put the phone to my ear and have a fake conversation. Hopefully both look convincing enough. I'd hate to think those acting lessons went entirely to waste. =P

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I have a very simple way of avoiding detection, learned it from my cat. I believe if I can't see you, you can't see me. I don't look at muggles. I just go about my business as if no one is around. So far it has worked great.

 

This. Plus, you avoid giving off the wrong vibes when you're searching. The last thing I would want to do is dress up in some sort of costume to avoid detection, because I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

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I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

 

Why would the police care if you're dressed up in a hardhat and safety vest. You are not doing anything illegal. You don't need a license to wear a hardhat, and you are not impersonating anyone official.

 

If a cop asks about your outfit,(not very likely) and you explained what you are doing, that should be it.

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It is talked about here quite a bit, and I do know of one cacher that carries an orange safety vest and has probably used it once or twice, but the reality is, very, very, very few cachers really do something like that.

I did it just last weekend - but then I was already wearing the vest (we were marking a bike route) to avoid being hit in the street. When we got close to a cache, I just went over and searched until I found it. Nobody paid much attention to me.

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It is talked about here quite a bit, and I do know of one cacher that carries an orange safety vest and has probably used it once or twice, but the reality is, very, very, very few cachers really do something like that.

I did it just last weekend - but then I was already wearing the vest (we were marking a bike route) to avoid being hit in the street. When we got close to a cache, I just went over and searched until I found it. Nobody paid much attention to me.

 

Sure, but who pays attention to you anyways?

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I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

 

Why would the police care if you're dressed up in a hardhat and safety vest. You are not doing anything illegal. You don't need a license to wear a hardhat, and you are not impersonating anyone official.

 

If a cop asks about your outfit,(not very likely) and you explained what you are doing, that should be it.

 

It sounds good in theory. My concern is that police officers are hyper-sensitive to unusual behavior. Someone acting strangely to a cop is probably triggers the same feeling I get when encountering a suspicious pile of rocks in the woods.

 

So here you are, dressed up like a guy from the electric company, with a clipboard, safety vest, and hard hat (and I might add, with the electric company logo on it! After all, you're a stickler for detail). You're searching for a cache, and find it -- a piece of metal conduit designed to disguise itself into the electric utility boxes on the side of the building (a local store). Maybe it's hidden with permission, maybe not, but hey, you're not gonna let it escape you. Unbeknownst to you, a cop drives up and slows down to watch you put that round, gray, cylindrical object back into the utility piping. As you return to your slightly dented compact car (unfortunately, you don't have access to an electric company vehicle -- a failure in your typical attention to detail), the cop is calling for backup and flipping on his flashers -- because his red flags are waving like crazy.

 

....

 

At the end of the ordeal, the cop sent you on your way -- after all, you hadn't done anything wrong, but boy was it a hassle. The time spent waiting in the back of the squad car while "we check out your story" gave you the time to think about the very entertaining log you'll get to leave later today, and wondering if it will get nominated as a "Lost and Found" story. It didn't help that the store manager knew nothing about it, and you wonder if the elaborate costume was what made the cop second-guess your story about "playing a GPS hide and seek game." You can't blame the cops, they were just playing it safe when they evacuated the store -- it sure was lucky that a prominent local cacher happened to be shopping there that day. How he averted the arrival of the bomb squad, we'll never know. One thing's for sure -- while you probably won't be wearing that costume while caching again, you'll definitely be wearing it to the next event!

 

I dunno... I just feel that trying to act "sneaky" or "stealthy" or "discreet" or pick your synonym opens you up to unnecessary risk. I mean, to each your own, but if the goal is trying to keep the caching hidden from muggles, I don't think it's effective.

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I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

 

Why would the police care if you're dressed up in a hardhat and safety vest. You are not doing anything illegal. You don't need a license to wear a hardhat, and you are not impersonating anyone official.

 

If a cop asks about your outfit,(not very likely) and you explained what you are doing, that should be it.

 

It sounds good in theory. My concern is that police officers are hyper-sensitive to unusual behavior. Someone acting strangely to a cop is probably triggers the same feeling I get when encountering a suspicious pile of rocks in the woods.

 

So here you are, dressed up like a guy from the electric company, with a clipboard, safety vest, and hard hat (and I might add, with the electric company logo on it! After all, you're a stickler for detail). You're searching for a cache, and find it -- a piece of metal conduit designed to disguise itself into the electric utility boxes on the side of the building (a local store). Maybe it's hidden with permission, maybe not, but hey, you're not gonna let it escape you. Unbeknownst to you, a cop drives up and slows down to watch you put that round, gray, cylindrical object back into the utility piping. As you return to your slightly dented compact car (unfortunately, you don't have access to an electric company vehicle -- a failure in your typical attention to detail), the cop is calling for backup and flipping on his flashers -- because his red flags are waving like crazy.

 

....

 

At the end of the ordeal, the cop sent you on your way -- after all, you hadn't done anything wrong, but boy was it a hassle. The time spent waiting in the back of the squad car while "we check out your story" gave you the time to think about the very entertaining log you'll get to leave later today, and wondering if it will get nominated as a "Lost and Found" story. It didn't help that the store manager knew nothing about it, and you wonder if the elaborate costume was what made the cop second-guess your story about "playing a GPS hide and seek game." You can't blame the cops, they were just playing it safe when they evacuated the store -- it sure was lucky that a prominent local cacher happened to be shopping there that day. How he averted the arrival of the bomb squad, we'll never know. One thing's for sure -- while you probably won't be wearing that costume while caching again, you'll definitely be wearing it to the next event!

 

I dunno... I just feel that trying to act "sneaky" or "stealthy" or "discreet" or pick your synonym opens you up to unnecessary risk. I mean, to each your own, but if the goal is trying to keep the caching hidden from muggles, I don't think it's effective.

 

WOW, there's a whole lot more in this scenario than just a hardhat and vest. Why would anyone put an electric company logo on the hardhat, it just isn't needed, (and that might get you in trouble.). My hardhat has a Geocaching logo. :rolleyes:

 

What you describe here would get you looked at closely, but it wouldn't be the hat and vest that sets the authorities off. Putting that round, gray, cylindrical object back into the utility piping would do a lot more to get you hassled than the hat.

 

I have talked with a number of LEO about this. The general consensus is if they had reason to check on a person with a hardhat looking in the bushes, and got a reasonable explanation, no harm no foul.

 

These day the police almost have to be hyper-sensitive. However, the vast majority of them are reasonable thinking people.

 

I am a 60+ year old male. Given the choice, I would much rather get the type of looks the police will give me, than the type of looks a mother will give me, if I am looking around the bushes in the corner of the playground.

 

As a side note, I have only used the hardhat and clip board about three times. It really works well, but usually is really not necessary.

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It is talked about here quite a bit, and I do know of one cacher that carries an orange safety vest and has probably used it once or twice, but the reality is, very, very, very few cachers really do something like that.

I did it just last weekend - but then I was already wearing the vest (we were marking a bike route) to avoid being hit in the street. When we got close to a cache, I just went over and searched until I found it. Nobody paid much attention to me.

 

Sure, but who pays attention to you anyways?

You'd be surprised! Or, considering this photo of us, maybe not:

a10163fe-4a6c-4232-b96f-cecfab24a150.jpg

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It is talked about here quite a bit, and I do know of one cacher that carries an orange safety vest and has probably used it once or twice, but the reality is, very, very, very few cachers really do something like that.

I did it just last weekend - but then I was already wearing the vest (we were marking a bike route) to avoid being hit in the street. When we got close to a cache, I just went over and searched until I found it. Nobody paid much attention to me.

 

Sure, but who pays attention to you anyways?

You'd be surprised! Or, considering this photo of us, maybe not:

a10163fe-4a6c-4232-b96f-cecfab24a150.jpg

You blend right in at the events where I have seen you. :rolleyes:

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...

 

I dunno... I just feel that trying to act "sneaky" or "stealthy" or "discreet" or pick your synonym opens you up to unnecessary risk. I mean, to each your own, but if the goal is trying to keep the caching hidden from muggles, I don't think it's effective.

The idea with the vest, clipboard and all is NOT to act "sneaky," stealthy" or "discreet." Be bold and just walk up to that park bench and get down on you knees and look it over, making a couple of notes on the clipboard if you like, grab the cache and nobody will pay any attention.

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Actually being in uniform doesn't help either, in fact it makes it worse. When I have time I have been caching at work, take a guess at what I do by my name. :rolleyes:

 

When looking 'official' people tend to watch you because they think something is wrong. Luckily I work nights but I still find it easier to blend in when I am in street clothes. :rolleyes:

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I act like I belong exactly where I am at the moment.

 

I find it hard to act like I "belong" on the side of a busy road, checking out a guardrail in my street clothes. I carry an orange safety vest and clipboard in my trunk for these occasions and pretend to be intently studying trees, utility poles, whatever, while traffic whizzes by. :rolleyes:

 

Unfortunately, I'm getting to use this outfit more and more these days. :rolleyes:

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I have a very simple way of avoiding detection, learned it from my cat. I believe if I can't see you, you can't see me. I don't look at muggles. I just go about my business as if no one is around. So far it has worked great.

The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is your cat??

 

Anyway, put me in the same camp as "no disguise, just act normal". If I can't walk up to it without arousing suspicion, I won't hunt for it.

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I used to worry about stealth and people watching and all that. Not any more unless I'm in a residential area. I just don't do those. If the muggle level is high, I just walk away. I finally learned that you can;t get all the caches and that people, for the most part, are pretty unobservant. Generally, if you act like you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing, folks will pretty much ignore you.

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I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

 

Why would the police care if you're dressed up in a hardhat and safety vest. You are not doing anything illegal. You don't need a license to wear a hardhat, and you are not impersonating anyone official.

 

If a cop asks about your outfit,(not very likely) and you explained what you are doing, that should be it.

To answer the first part of your post... have you heard about 9/11? The police care about anything out of the norm. I suspect they would take it very seriously that you were dressed in such a way as to give the impression of being a public employee, when you were not.

 

On the other hand, I do agree that once you managed to convince them that you were geocaching, they would let it go. Still, I've been caching for 6 years and have not once had to resort to such charades.

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...

 

I dunno... I just feel that trying to act "sneaky" or "stealthy" or "discreet" or pick your synonym opens you up to unnecessary risk. I mean, to each your own, but if the goal is trying to keep the caching hidden from muggles, I don't think it's effective.

The idea with the vest, clipboard and all is NOT to act "sneaky," stealthy" or "discreet." Be bold and just walk up to that park bench and get down on you knees and look it over, making a couple of notes on the clipboard if you like, grab the cache and nobody will pay any attention.

 

If you do that, nobody will pay attention to you, anyway. If anything, the gear will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd and make them wonder if they can figure out what sort of changes might be coming to the area by watching you closely.
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I act like I belong exactly where I am at the moment.

 

I find it hard to act like I "belong" on the side of a busy road, checking out a guardrail in my street clothes. I carry an orange safety vest and clipboard in my trunk for these occasions and pretend to be intently studying trees, utility poles, whatever, while traffic whizzes by. :P

 

Unfortunately, I'm getting to use this outfit more and more these days. <_<

That is just how you feel, not how you look. Believe me... very few people would give you a 2nd look, no matter what you were doing there. Why call attention to yourself with an orange vest?

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I act like I belong exactly where I am at the moment.

 

I find it hard to act like I "belong" on the side of a busy road, checking out a guardrail in my street clothes. I carry an orange safety vest and clipboard in my trunk for these occasions and pretend to be intently studying trees, utility poles, whatever, while traffic whizzes by. :P

 

Unfortunately, I'm getting to use this outfit more and more these days. :huh:

That is just how you feel, not how you look. Believe me... very few people would give you a 2nd look, no matter what you were doing there. Why call attention to yourself with an orange vest?

Then I guess I'm one of very few people. Maintenance workers, surveyers, inspectors, and others on "official business" all wear safety vests, so if I see someone wearing one I assume they are a worker on some sort of "official business" and give them no more thought. But if I see someone in street clothes wandering along the side of a road, I wonder what's going on and take a close look to see if they need a lift or something.

Edited by charliewhiskey
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I have found a GREAT way to pick up guardrail, and other roadside caches. All you have to do is simply open the hood to your car. No one, and I mean No one will look at you. Actually, people will purposelly look the other way.

I have also used my GPSr as a "camera" worked well.

As far as the police are concerned, I downloaded, and printed copies of a Geocaching pamphlet from geocache university. When I have been stopped, I just show them the pamphlet, and all is good. These Pamphlets, I have found, are very nice recruitting methods for your friends.

I find it hard to act like I "belong" on the side of a busy road, checking out a guardrail in my street clothes. I carry an orange safety vest and clipboard in my trunk for these occasions and pretend to be intently studying trees, utility poles, whatever, while traffic whizzes by.

 

Unfortunately, I'm getting to use this outfit more and more these days.

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I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

 

Why would the police care if you're dressed up in a hardhat and safety vest. You are not doing anything illegal. You don't need a license to wear a hardhat, and you are not impersonating anyone official.

 

If a cop asks about your outfit,(not very likely) and you explained what you are doing, that should be it.

To answer the first part of your post... have you heard about 9/11? The police care about anything out of the norm. I suspect they would take it very seriously that you were dressed in such a way as to give the impression of being a public employee, when you were not.

 

On the other hand, I do agree that once you managed to convince them that you were geocaching, they would let it go. Still, I've been caching for 6 years and have not once had to resort to such charades.

 

It may be true the police care about anything out of the norm. However, wearing a vest, and maybe a hardhat is not out of the norm. On any given day I see lots of people wearing some or all of them.

 

The kids at the local stores wear a safety vest when taking groceries to your car, or retrieving shopping carts from the parking lot. People walking along the side of the road picking up aluminum cans, or sometimes just walking the road. Meter readers, school safety patrols, and many others walk around with a vest on.

 

I will agree that the idea of a hardhat and vest may not be needed, but if it makes me feel comfortable getting a cache I might otherwise skip, I will wear it. But I suspect worrying about how the police would view it borders on paranoia. :yikes:

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I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

 

Why would the police care if you're dressed up in a hardhat and safety vest. You are not doing anything illegal. You don't need a license to wear a hardhat, and you are not impersonating anyone official.

 

If a cop asks about your outfit,(not very likely) and you explained what you are doing, that should be it.

 

It sounds good in theory. My concern is that police officers are hyper-sensitive to unusual behavior. Someone acting strangely to a cop is probably triggers the same feeling I get when encountering a suspicious pile of rocks in the woods.

 

So here you are, dressed up like a guy from the electric company, with a clipboard, safety vest, and hard hat (and I might add, with the electric company logo on it! After all, you're a stickler for detail). You're searching for a cache, and find it -- a piece of metal conduit designed to disguise itself into the electric utility boxes on the side of the building (a local store). Maybe it's hidden with permission, maybe not, but hey, you're not gonna let it escape you. Unbeknownst to you, a cop drives up and slows down to watch you put that round, gray, cylindrical object back into the utility piping. As you return to your slightly dented compact car (unfortunately, you don't have access to an electric company vehicle -- a failure in your typical attention to detail), the cop is calling for backup and flipping on his flashers -- because his red flags are waving like crazy.

 

....

 

At the end of the ordeal, the cop sent you on your way -- after all, you hadn't done anything wrong, but boy was it a hassle. The time spent waiting in the back of the squad car while "we check out your story" gave you the time to think about the very entertaining log you'll get to leave later today, and wondering if it will get nominated as a "Lost and Found" story. It didn't help that the store manager knew nothing about it, and you wonder if the elaborate costume was what made the cop second-guess your story about "playing a GPS hide and seek game." You can't blame the cops, they were just playing it safe when they evacuated the store -- it sure was lucky that a prominent local cacher happened to be shopping there that day. How he averted the arrival of the bomb squad, we'll never know. One thing's for sure -- while you probably won't be wearing that costume while caching again, you'll definitely be wearing it to the next event!

 

I dunno... I just feel that trying to act "sneaky" or "stealthy" or "discreet" or pick your synonym opens you up to unnecessary risk. I mean, to each your own, but if the goal is trying to keep the caching hidden from muggles, I don't think it's effective.

 

Here in PA many subcontractors for the utilities and highway companies drive personal vehicles just as you described, and would raise no red flags here. I cache in uniform on occasion, and have never been bothered yet, the badge and gun tend to keep people away, EXCEPT ONCE!! While looking for a micro on a traffic island during rush hour, wouldn't you know it an old lady wants help crossing the street. After I helped her out she whispered, "it is under the control box, you have the best costume yet!" and off she went, it was the CO, laughing merrily! Glad my uniform was a costume to her....lol I also keep the cones, my vest and hat in the back of my van along with my clipboard, never know when that will work better.

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I cache in uniform on occasion, and have never been bothered yet, the badge and gun tend to keep people away, EXCEPT ONCE!!

 

You cache while packing heat?

 

Awesome ;)

That might be a good way to keep other cachers away from a cache, especially if it's for an FTF. A lot of people might see a cop and be like, "Uhhhh, I'm going to pass on that cache. Don't want to have to answer any questions if he asks me anything." Of course, not knowing it's a fellow cacher. :D

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I belive that if you stand perfectly still muggles can't see you.

 

That alone can't possibly work. You have to also envision how the area where you are looks like without you in it. That way, you telepathically project that image to people around you and that's what they see, making you effectively invisible!

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I can imagine it would be an awful pain in the arse to explain the situation to a LEO.

 

Why would the police care if you're dressed up in a hardhat and safety vest. You are not doing anything illegal. You don't need a license to wear a hardhat, and you are not impersonating anyone official.

 

If a cop asks about your outfit,(not very likely) and you explained what you are doing, that should be it.

 

It sounds good in theory. My concern is that police officers are hyper-sensitive to unusual behavior. Someone acting strangely to a cop is probably triggers the same feeling I get when encountering a suspicious pile of rocks in the woods.

 

So here you are, dressed up like a guy from the electric company, with a clipboard, safety vest, and hard hat (and I might add, with the electric company logo on it!

 

That could get you in a big mess in my area, (LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff.)

It's a common ruse for people to dress like this to gain the confidence of the elderly and gain access to their homes, where they grab jewelry, cash, etc.

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That could get you in a big mess in my area, (LA PD and Los Angeles Sheriff.)

It's a common ruse for people to dress like this to gain the confidence of the elderly and gain access to their homes, where they grab jewelry, cash, etc.

 

I highly doubt it would get you in a big mess even in your area. If an area is having the problem you describe, you might have a better chance of being questioned. However, unless it is illegal the police will question you and that should be about it. (Of course there is that cop that just hassles people, but that is rare.)

 

I cannot imagine LA not having a lot of people wearing a hardhat and vest, it is just too common. Just the other day I saw two guys in a local grocery store still wearing their hardhats. They were construction workers on the way home.

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That could get you in a big mess in my area, (LA PD and Los Angeles Sheriff.)

It's a common ruse for people to dress like this to gain the confidence of the elderly and gain access to their homes, where they grab jewelry, cash, etc.

 

I highly doubt it would get you in a big mess even in your area. If an area is having the problem you describe, you might have a better chance of being questioned. However, unless it is illegal the police will question you and that should be about it. (Of course there is that cop that just hassles people, but that is rare.)

 

I cannot imagine LA not having a lot of people wearing a hardhat and vest, it is just too common. Just the other day I saw two guys in a local grocery store still wearing their hardhats. They were construction workers on the way home.

 

Don't lose site of the fact that I was responding to the idea that the safety vest had an official emblem on it. If I'm wearing a vest that has the official LADWP (dept. water and power), and I'm not LADWP, I can expect to be questioned. The problem is that it will not be on the street, It will be in an interrogation room in Van Nuys. You can throw the "I'm Goecaching" at them, but until they decide that you are not the guy robbing the old ladies, you are at their mercy.

 

As far as safety vests. My company implemented them in January of this year. As a truck driver, I never noticed the things, except in highway work zones. Now I realize that half of the working force is wearing them. They are everywhere.

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I think a hard hat and vest are great even if there aren't a lot of people around. For example, there is a water tower cache nearby that I have been wanting to get. There are many homes nearby and I believe the hard hat and vest will allow me to go unnoticed by residents as well as allow me to relax while I am searching.

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