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Searching in busy areas


Seaman and Clark
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I was out and about today and had a little free time and thought I would look for my first cache. I noticed one was right across the street from where I was eating lunch so I thought I'd take a look. I knew I had to be close and am pretty sure it was in some low bushes right out by the street in front of this busy store, but I just didn't feel like I should be rummaging around in the bushes. I tried another one too that said it was an ammo box so I thought that would be easy but again it was in some bushes in front of an industrial park. It wasn't a busy street, but I felt like if I was snooping around, people would think I was up to no good so I didn't really look. So finally I stopped by one in a park and found my first cache. But my question is, how do you search for ones like that without looking suspicious? I was pretending to talk on my phone while looking around, but still didn't feel like I could really go into the bushes and look around. Do you just have to go for it and realize everyone is not looking at you, or do you try to do those early in the morning or late in the evening?

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Sometimes, I take out a plastic bag and start picking up litter. When I spot the cache, it goes into the litter bag too. A few moments later, I take a break from picking up litter, sign the log, and put the cache back in the litter bag. Then I pick up some more litter, replacing the cache as I go. On my way out, I toss the bag of litter in a trash can.

 

There are other forum threads about "stealth" techniques, but basically, it comes down to NOT being sneaky, and just doing something innocuous and perhaps even boring. People will see someone picking up litter, or playing with a kid, or taking "artsy" photographs, or walking around with a clipboard, or whatever else, and they won't give you a second thought.

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...And when the Border Patrol agent -- or other authority figure -- wants to know what you are doing (as with us, this last weekend), tell him EXACTLY what you are doing.

If they know about geocaching, they just leave (normally). If not, then the next time they see similar activity, it'll take less 'splaining by that geocacher.

 

Simply put, trying to act "stealthy" usually attracts attention to most people. True stealth is an art-form and not many people possess that ability.

 

The advice by niraD is good to dissuade everyday folk, but be prepared to discuss geocaching with an LEO regardless. They oftentimes see something as suspicious when others do not, rightfully so...

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It's not easy that is for sure. Try mornings, late evening or maybe Sundays since allot of buisnesses are closed then.

I always scratch my head at hides that say this is a heavy muggle area so please use stealth when looking.. :shocked:

 

There is a cache that sounds interesting by me that was until I went to it. It is a tree on a fenced in Fast food joint property.

 

The tree with cache is about 10 feet away from the sign where the drive ups order their food....um..really? :tired:

Edited by Bassbully
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I have to be honest- I usually avoid these types of caches. However, since I've now cherry picked the easy caches near where I work, I now have to either find these ones or skip lunch time caching.

 

I just went for a cache this morning with a friend before work. It was on a billboard in a VERY busy intersection. Forget stealth- we just looked (for about 15 minutes until we came up with the find). While at least 200 cars probably drove by in that time frame, not one person stopped or asked what we were doing. I think most people are too wrapped up in their day to day to give you much of a second thought. It was much easier than I anticipated it to be.

 

The best hint that I received was to get a hard hat and a reflective vest. I'm considering trying that...

 

If you can, stick to caches that are in less populated areas to begin with. Once you get the feel for how they are hiding, it should cut down on your search time and if you do decide to go for high traffic areas, hopefully it won't take as long to find the goods.

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I've used many methods of being 'stealthy' depending on the circumstances. All of them involve the principle of just doing what you're doing as if you belong there and observers will apply their own stealth TO you.

 

I frequently poke around buildings and public places with a clipboard, spending lots of time inspecting things and areas that I know to be cache-free, so that when I walk over to the big crack where the BT is and stick my hand in there, I won't be doing anything that the homeless guy across the street hasn't watched me do five times in the last five minutes.

 

HOWEVER, I personally wouldn't don a hardhat and vest to search. They'd work great with ninety-nine percent of the potential observers, but that last guy could cause you unnecessary hardship.

 

With a clipboard, you could be anybody, doing any task. But, with the defacto official accoutrements of a safety worker or another person dressed for physical danger, you attract MORE interest. Most people would see you and wonder what was going on, but SOME people would be more curious or concerned, and that would increase the chance that they would approach you.

 

Another aspect of that is that if you're seen by someone who feels that they're the person who should know if someone from the power company or phone company or a construction inspector is poking around and they don't see a truck, then you immediately transition from being a object of passing interest to a target of suspicion.

 

How many times have you seen the hero in a movie notice that the guys in the guard uniforms are wearing dress shoes, and immediately take them out?

 

If I was curious about a lone hard-hatted worker poking around a public building without any apparent reason to be wearing a hardhat, and noticed that they were wearing sneakers instead of more-protective footwear, I'd consider finding someone that I knew worked there. A popular "Public Service" phrase here in the US is "If you see something, say something."

 

A police officer will approach you if they don't know what you're doing and usually be open-minded, but that approach will change if you're actually pretending to be something you clearly are not.

 

So, my point is, learn to use others' ideas of what stands out and what doesn't against them while caching, and don't get clever. Wearing a vest and hardhat states "I am an Official!"

 

And no, you're not.

 

Edited by TeamRabbitRun
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Thanks for all the great advice. I would have no problem telling someone what I am doing if they ask, but I am wondering about if people see me find the cache if they will go in there and mess with it. I guess I just wouldn't put it back right away if people were walking by, but someone in a car probably isn't going to pay any attention.

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Thanks for all the great advice. I would have no problem telling someone what I am doing if they ask, but I am wondering about if people see me find the cache if they will go in there and mess with it. I guess I just wouldn't put it back right away if people were walking by, but someone in a car probably isn't going to pay any attention.

See my post above; the part about messing with EVERYTHING on the wall so when I get to the cache I'm not doing anything unusual.

 

Just don't grab it, drop to your knees and shout "YES!"

 

With it in hand, keep looking. Make your way elsewhere and process it. When you put it back, don't hurry away. Continue to appear to hunt, leading interest away from the hide.

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Brand new to geocaching, and I just went looking for my first cache yesterday and came upon the same problem. It was hidden under the sign (at least I think), in a very busy parking lot. I kind of looked around for a second, and then realized that people would probably think I was trying to break into a car. I got nervous and left haha.

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I have found the best method is to go about your business and ignore everyone. It doesn't really matter if you are digging around in bushes or staring at a rock wall. If you are doing your thing and not constantly looking around to see if others might be watching you will be fine. For me that is using stealth. If someone does ask what you are doing just tell them. If they seem remotely interested you can start explaining the details of the game. The vast majority will say thanks and move on after a few seconds.

 

When challenged by someone I ask if they have heard of geocaching. After they say "no" I tell them it is like a scavenger hunt using a handheld GPS or a smart phone to look for "something" hidden by someone else so I can sign a paper log, then post my find online. They usually leave shaking their heads, but sometimes they help search.

 

To the best of my knowledge I have never compromised a cache in my going on 10 years of caching. B)

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I've used many methods of being 'stealthy' depending on the circumstances. All of them involve the principle of just doing what you're doing as if you belong there and observers will apply their own stealth TO you.

 

I frequently poke around buildings and public places with a clipboard, spending lots of time inspecting things and areas that I know to be cache-free, so that when I walk over to the big crack where the BT is and stick my hand in there, I won't be doing anything that the homeless guy across the street hasn't watched me do five times in the last five minutes.

 

HOWEVER, I personally wouldn't don a hardhat and vest to search. They'd work great with ninety-nine percent of the potential observers, but that last guy could cause you unnecessary hardship.

 

With a clipboard, you could be anybody, doing any task. But, with the defacto official accoutrements of a safety worker or another person dressed for physical danger, you attract MORE interest. Most people would see you and wonder what was going on, but SOME people would be more curious or concerned, and that would increase the chance that they would approach you.

 

Another aspect of that is that if you're seen by someone who feels that they're the person who should know if someone from the power company or phone company or a construction inspector is poking around and they don't see a truck, then you immediately transition from being a object of passing interest to a target of suspicion.

 

How many times have you seen the hero in a movie notice that the guys in the guard uniforms are wearing dress shoes, and immediately take them out?

 

If I was curious about a lone hard-hatted worker poking around a public building with any apparent reason to be wearing a hardhat, and noticed that they were wearing sneakers instead of more-protective footwear, I'd consider finding someone that I knew worked there. A popular "Public Service" phrase here in the US is "If you see something, say something."

 

A police officer will approach you if they don't know what you're doing and usually be open-minded, but that approach will change if you're actually pretending to be something you clearly are not.

 

So, my point is, learn to use others' ideas of what stands out and what doesn't against them while caching, and don't get clever. Wearing a vest and hardhat states "I am an Official!"

 

And no, you're not.

 

I know this is an old thread but it came up in another thread...

 

The combination of hardhat/vest/clipboard does suggest someone official. But a combination of a hi-vis vest and a bicycle means nothing more than someone not wanting to get run over. A bicycle is a handy prop in all sorts of ways - I had so many "mechanical issues" with my bike that required fiddling with the pedals, chain, gears, brakes etc. Surprisingly they all seemed to happen when I was in the vicinity of a cache under a bench...

 

I've sometimes used a camera as a caching aid. A small pocket camera, with the flash set to fire with every photo, might leave people wondering just what's so interesting it's worth lots of pictures but they typically seem to figure I'm doing some sort of project. Alternatively using a fold-out screen lets you take pictures really low to the ground, which can be handy when needing to rummage around at the base of something.

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I know this is an old thread but it came up in another thread...

 

The combination of hardhat/vest/clipboard does suggest someone official. But a combination of a hi-vis vest and a bicycle means nothing more than someone not wanting to get run over. A bicycle is a handy prop in all sorts of ways - I had so many "mechanical issues" with my bike that required fiddling with the pedals, chain, gears, brakes etc. Surprisingly they all seemed to happen when I was in the vicinity of a cache under a bench...

 

I've sometimes used a camera as a caching aid. A small pocket camera, with the flash set to fire with every photo, might leave people wondering just what's so interesting it's worth lots of pictures but they typically seem to figure I'm doing some sort of project. Alternatively using a fold-out screen lets you take pictures really low to the ground, which can be handy when needing to rummage around at the base of something.

 

Interesting - What do you mean by a 'fold-out screen'?

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I've sometimes used a camera as a caching aid. A small pocket camera, with the flash set to fire with every photo, might leave people wondering just what's so interesting it's worth lots of pictures but they typically seem to figure I'm doing some sort of project. Alternatively using a fold-out screen lets you take pictures really low to the ground, which can be handy when needing to rummage around at the base of something.

 

Even without an articulating display on a digital camera, taking a photo with a flash is a good way to look into dark places to see if it contains a container.

 

 

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Really enjoyed different perspectives on this topic. It is something I am always worried about.

 

I like the idea of looking natural and also using a camera. The thought of reverse-psychology seems to come to mind.

 

Most of the caches in my area are high muggle zones. I will have to try to look boring so no-one takes notice.

 

Thanks for all the tips from experienced members.

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Really enjoyed different perspectives on this topic. It is something I am always worried about.

 

I like the idea of looking natural and also using a camera. The thought of reverse-psychology seems to come to mind.

 

Most of the caches in my area are high muggle zones. I will have to try to look boring so no-one takes notice.

 

Thanks for all the tips from experienced members.

 

Remember, it's not enough to LOOK boring; you must BE boring!

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Sometimes, I take out a plastic bag and start picking up litter. When I spot the cache, it goes into the litter bag too. A few moments later, I take a break from picking up litter, sign the log, and put the cache back in the litter bag. Then I pick up some more litter, replacing the cache as I go. On my way out, I toss the bag of litter in a trash can.

 

There are other forum threads about "stealth" techniques, but basically, it comes down to NOT being sneaky, and just doing something innocuous and perhaps even boring. People will see someone picking up litter, or playing with a kid, or taking "artsy" photographs, or walking around with a clipboard, or whatever else, and they won't give you a second thought.

 

LOVE this idea! Brilliant one for the kids, too! Thanks!

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some of my favourite techniques are:

 

bag/backpack - if the cache is situated near the ground, i just take off my bag, place it on the ground and pretend i'm searching for something. Then i quickly reach for the countainer, and hide it in my bag, where i open it and sign the log.

 

keys - if i'm with my friends i just say something like "guys! Have you seen my keys? I think i dropped them here!" And then we can look under every bench and bush.

 

Also, when you're with friends stealth is much easier.

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