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How much emphasis is put on stealth?


Faea
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I am proud to say I've found my first cache in this city. I was caching before I found this www.geocaching.com so my first ones in seattle/tacoma area were not logged. anyways, I figured I must have been spotted at least twice. And while I am amused to feel like a complete fool, I wonder how hard some people try for stealth.

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Depends on the circumstances. Stealth, as circle the parking lot and come in from behind a bush, car, tree, or similar to avoid attracting attention walking to the cache, or hanging out with a gps to my ear until someone moves on. I've done both, recently got out and checked the oil so I could replace an LPC with someone sitting in a nearby car.

 

Keep in mind sometimes a longer route is called for. Someone in jeans and t-shirt won't fit in with a wedding party in formal wear, but could walk right through another type gathering. Then again, someone climbing over a fence will attract attention, but walking around won't.

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I don't do costumes and what not. And I certainly will not lie to someone who asks me what I'm doing (authority or otherwise) as looking suspicious tends to create a lot of issues for folks like me who already look a little shifty in day to day life.

 

I will drive by a cache if there is a gathering, find the least obnoxious way in, examine the area from afar before going in for the find, etc.

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Often the person who stands out is the one who is trying to be 'stealthy'.

 

For many retrievals just grabbing the cache is the stealthiest option. People notice someone who's head is on swivel, especially law enforcement and security.

 

For a muggle rich environment, if it's a cache & dash I wait in the car until the coast is clear and then grab it. If it's not a cache 'n dash, I'll identify the GZ and (if needed) will act like I'm talking on the phone.

 

Speaking of cars...when appropriate, I make a point of parking my car so it is between the cache and most of the potential muggles.

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The most I do is to tie my shoe, take out my cell phone (not the gpsr), take a picture, or time the find between groups of people. But not all at one time. Trying to act stealthy is going to attract more attention.

 

If the cache area is unusually busy and the people appear to have much more time on their hands than I, or it is a place like a playground where parents might be nervous by someone scouring the bushes, it is perhaps necessary to come back another day. If the area is always busy, I think that the owner intended people to find the cache, obtained adequate permission, and I will confidently go about my business.

 

Some people like to wear construction helmets or jackets or carry clipboards to make it appear they are on official business. I could never convince anyone of that so it is not something I am interested in doing.

 

Some people talk to their gpsr, but I could see a child asking, "Mommy, why is that old guy doing talking into his garmin?"

 

Most people are too busy thinking about their own lives to care. But if anybody asks, I explain the game. As one person told me, "People seem less strange when you know what they are doing."

Edited by mulvaney
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I smile at people and say "hi." They get so nervous at that point they don't even notice me anymore because they're trying to figure out what is going on. If the "hi" doesn't disarm them I do a "how are you."

 

But generally I agree. I walk up to the cache like I'm doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary and walk back to my car and on to the next one. People don't see what is right in front of them because they don't want to see what's right in front of them.

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I have an HF ASD 6yr old son...even if he decides to try to be stealthful...he can't be...picture trying to geocache with a little Sheldon Cooper...

I should have said may caching partner is My 6yr old son...

I usually only cache with him and our dog (I have picked up a few micros at lunch time at work without him, more fun with him though :-)and I never place a cache without him. To me stealth is most important if you think the cache might get stolen by the muggles in the area. Other than that, when someone comes around, we often just explain what geocaching is.

Edited by thistleRacers
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It really depends on the location, having a 4 year old sometimes helps as I just let her out of the car to have a play if its a play ground or a grassed area. If there is an obscene amount of people I come back later. If there is just one person and I know there is no way we are going to go unnoticed as we rummage through bushes, I actually take the time to explain to them what we are doing....I have then had strangers help find the cache which was a bit of fun and then ask me for the website address with keen interest.

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Usually i just go right up to it unless theres a ton of people in one area. Then ill try to hang around the area and find a few potential hiding places and actually grab it when its clear. A few times people were sitting literally on top of the caches, once in central park and once in juniper valley, and i talked to them about it and showed them the cache. Stealth really isn't needed most of the time.

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Like Nubcackes said, the best stealthy disguise is paradoxically a very high-visibility jacket. I've not tried it yet, but I have thought about getting one to help with roadside caches and city caches.

 

A dog would be a good excuse to be rummaging around bushes, as dog owners could be picking up dog mess, or retrieving a ball or something else.

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I believe in stealth and such, but I think stealth is something that is more so the responsibility of the cache owner to be considered when placing the cache and not so much the responsibility of cache seekers. For example, if a cache keeps getting muggled, thats probably not the hunters fault for not being stealthy enough, thats probably the cache owners fault for trying to hide a cache in the center of Muggletown.

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I'm not a stealthy person. Usually in something with camo, it doesn't fit in urban/public locations. My other 2/3rds can walk right up to a cache between muggles and still have no one take notice. I believe she looks like she belongs there and doesn't get a glance.

 

I feel that if "please be stealthy" is listed on the cache page, it means the owner never asked for permission and if found, the cache will get archived. Poor placement by an owner shouldn't become the burden of the finders.

 

To all those who've expressed some odd desire to dress like a public official with vest, clipboard and (maybe even) hardhat... Why? Please don't.

Sounds like a cute idea and some claim they've done it. Never seen proof.

I, as well as many others will ask a person dressed like that what they're doing. Many are more aware than you think. Why don't you have the Towns lettering on your vest like all the others do?

Retired LEO, it's just habit. The wrong answer gets a call to 911.

Most police departments are aware of anything going on with other departments within the district - and you're out of place.

We now have Homeland Security and most larger police departments have some sort of anti-terrorist task force for a reason.

See if your tactics for stealth pass questioning by the police.

Edited by cerberus1
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As the years have passed I have become less inclined to try to be stealthy. I have indeed become quite good at behaving like I belong wherever I am and going about my business. On the rare occasion I am asked what I am doing I answer truthfully. A large part of my opinion about stealth has come about due to the ever growing increase in my area of cache placements that offer no way to retrieve the cache without being observed. This includes lamp post and other electrical equipment hides as well as guardrails and other locations where is simply no way to locate, retrieve and replace the cache without being seen by others or filmed by security cameras.

 

Yesterday, after being chased off by a very zealous security guard when attempting an LPC my son lamented about the good old days of caching. He is 21 and we have been doing this for seven years. He wasn't referring to ammo cans placed at great scenic locations. He was referring to hides where you could actually search for the cache without being seen by many, many people. Placement choice does seem to have deteriorated in my area. There are still lots of good new hides but there are also a lot more poorly considered "stealth required" hides now than in years past.

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We enjoy being stealthy, but admit that we are no good at it. Being young, most people just assume we are 'necking in the woods' as one guy put it. We do our best to keep as stealthy as possible, and we find it adds an extra fun element to the game.

 

I once passed a cache location 7 times in one day as it's right beside a bus stop. I had to keep driving past until I finally was able to get to it without 15 people waiting for the bus.

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I cache with my dog, and have sometimes used her as an excuse for why I am standing in a bunch of bushes. It goes like this:

 

Smile at people who are giving you a strange look. "Dog ran in here and got her leash tangled." Laugh embarrassedly. People nod and say their dog does that too. People walk off.

 

These days, when I'm doing caches in high traffic areas, I usually use my iPhone instead of my GPSr. If someone seems to be watching me, I turn it sideways while I'm hunting and act like I'm just taking a photo of a bug or something. ;)

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I'm not a stealthy person. Usually in something with camo, it doesn't fit in urban/public locations. My other 2/3rds can walk right up to a cache between muggles and still have no one take notice. I believe she looks like she belongs there and doesn't get a glance.

 

I feel that if "please be stealthy" is listed on the cache page, it means the owner never asked for permission and if found, the cache will get archived. Poor placement by an owner shouldn't become the burden of the finders.

 

Ah, but there are some places that just have to have a cache to bring people to enjoy it.

ab7a6f50-73d1-43c5-97dd-c138069d64a8.jpg

Gratuitous photo of one of my favorite archived caches. Very tough park in which to hide a cache. I had to archive the original because they closed the 242' staircase down the Palisades. The replacement cache has disappeared a few times, so I've replaced it a few times. Yes. You need to be stealthy in this park. But it's worth bringing people to see the view.

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Forum lurker here, *waves hello*

 

The art of stealth has been bothering me lately and I've been spending a good deal of time brainstorming of ideas so I don't look so completely obvious and out of place. Let me first say that when I'm on a planned cache hunt where I intend to spend the afternoon wandering about a park type area, I dress for the occasion. Even if I know I will be on a fairly well maintained trail I know that at some point I will be off the trail bushwhacking. So my common gear is hiking shoes (more traction in slippery or rocky spots), long jeans (to avoid those stickers, mean fire ants, poison ivy, or maybe even a snake....basically I'm trying to avoid any bleeding or bites, lol), I've got my over the shoulder pack with all my geo-stuff, and usually a stick (so I don't have to stick my hands in weird places or to knock spiderwebs out of the way). This get up alone stands out among the general public in shorts and flip flops or those in exercise clothes out for a run or walk.

 

Then in muggle areas with mild to moderate traffic I feel that I'm sticking out like a sore thumb or looking creepy in some way as I study the trees, bushes, or fences. I've pretended to take pictures, have conversations on my gps, take notes in a journal as if studying some mysterious wildlife, drink half a gatorade while surveying the area, etc. I just feel like I look very suspicious and really wish to up my stealth skills and blend in a bit better.

 

For those of you who feel you've really got the sneaky thing down, what suggestions do you have?

 

>^..^<

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I'm beginning to find that one can have some control over the "need for stealth" by just timing your caching outings appropriately. Some caches are easier to pull off on a weekday (public parks, boat launches, other recreational areas) because they tend to be less crowded then. Other places like open businesses, public buildings, etc., tend to be easier on weekends, especially Sundays. There's no shame in passing on a cache due to "too many muggles". I'll usually just post a note on those and come back some other time when the crowds are less.

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To all those who've expressed some odd desire to dress like a public official with vest, clipboard and (maybe even) hardhat... Why? Please don't.

Sounds like a cute idea and some claim they've done it. Never seen proof.

There was one time we happened to have some cones in the truck and I put them out when we stopped for a cache.

 

9139ce5e-5033-44ba-9999-45fd4257cdd8.jpg

 

I don't have the picture of the vest right now (it's actually more of a shirt, btw), will see if I can find it.

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I have found that timing/weather is key. I live in NYC, and today between 7am and 11am found 10 caches. All of the 'muggle-heavy' spots are usually dead before or after working/tourist hours. Other than that, I just do my searching without caring who is around. Manhattan is full of tourists and residents/workers who are too caught up in the hussle and bussle to be bothered with someone who appears to be inspecting the architecture of a fence - but this may be quite different in your city.

 

I find that the size of the cache also determines how much stealth is involved. A nano-cache can be grabbed and/or put back with muggles around and they wouldn't find it even if they decided to investigate the cache area. Think about how many times you know exactly where a cache is and you can't even find it. The general public, for the most part, would not realize that a nano attached to a fence was something out of the ordinary.

I try to be more stealthy with bigger caches, and usually more so on the return than the grab. By the time I've grabbed, walked away and signed, the muggles that saw me are gone. I'm more concerned with the people who see me put it back.

 

I recently had to grab a micro attached to a water fountain and there was a guy sitting right next to it. I sat nearby for about 10 minutes and then casually walked up to him, asked if he had a light, and snatched the cache all at once. On the way back he was still there so I just pretended that I was trying to get a drink of water.

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Honestly I really don't care what people think. Im not doing anything illegal and I don't act paranoid so I don't think I look suspicious. If someone asks ill tell them about geocaching and thats that. The only stealth thing that I do is when I actually find the cache, I try not to let people see me putting it back, just incase someone is watching me I wouldn't want it to be muggled after I leave GZ. ph34r.gif

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There's actually a blind spot in perception that allows this to work--if you look out of place, but act as if you are really supposed to be there, no one will notice.

 

When I grab a cache, I don't use stealth at all, and I hunt in Boston. No one takes notice. The less suspicious you look, the less people will care.

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To all those who've expressed some odd desire to dress like a public official with vest, clipboard and (maybe even) hardhat... Why? Please don't.

Sounds like a cute idea and some claim they've done it. Never seen proof.

There was one time we happened to have some cones in the truck and I put them out when we stopped for a cache.

 

9139ce5e-5033-44ba-9999-45fd4257cdd8.jpg

 

I don't have the picture of the vest right now (it's actually more of a shirt, btw), will see if I can find it.

I'm not sure how that would fly if a cop stopped and started asking questions.

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I cache with my dog, and have sometimes used her as an excuse for why I am standing in a bunch of bushes. It goes like this:

 

Smile at people who are giving you a strange look. "Dog ran in here and got her leash tangled." Laugh embarrassedly. People nod and say their dog does that too. People walk off.

 

These days, when I'm doing caches in high traffic areas, I usually use my iPhone instead of my GPSr. If someone seems to be watching me, I turn it sideways while I'm hunting and act like I'm just taking a photo of a bug or something. ;)

 

I like the way you think! It is amazing the creativity some can muster up, in the name of Geocaching. I will have too remember the last part, pretend to be taking pictures of a bug or something... I like it.

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I'm not sure how that would fly if a cop stopped and started asking questions.

Why wouldn't it?

 

The MOBILE COMMAND CENTER text might not, but that's magnetic so it comes off real fast.

That's a pretty interesting idea. It should work for non-police muggles, for sure!

 

But as for "it comes off real fast", nothing would look more suspicious to a police officer than someone quickly removing a magnetic label as they come on site! The cones aren't anything out of the ordinary in most cases. Not unlike chevrons for broken-down semis or vehicles on the highway, or cable installers using cones while parked for an install, cones around your cache mobile make it look a little more official while you conduct your "Global Positioning System site assessment" :anibad:

 

I've seen similar ideas used where people have mirror hangers or window stickers that say something about "GPS location project" and/or something about returning to the vehicle soon and moving/stopping often. Not a bad idea if you're parked at a trailhead or gate...or in front of a fire hydrant! :laughing: (just kidding about the hydrant, folks... :ph34r: )

 

Stealth is something you ARE, not something you try to be. If you try, you're likely looking suspicious. For instance, I have to do site surveys for historic properties around our city. This requires that I drive into a neighborhood, park my car, and stand in front of houses taking pictures. Not exactly inconspicuous. I've been approached (not in a kind way, either) more times than not by a concerned homeowner or neighbor. So, I now clearly display my ID tag and have my story straight.

 

So, look like you belong, and have your story straight for any muggles that question you--cop or not.

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