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-Stitch-

How to not be seen....

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So, I've recently started geocaching, and most of what I've been serching for has been caches located way out in the wilderness, as I enjoy a good hike. So whenever I've tried to locate a cache in an urban environement, I've felt awkward and out of place. Questions ran through my mind, such as "Do I look suspicious?" and "Will people think I'm up to something?". I worried that people might think I was planting a bomb, arranging a drug deal, or burglaring a nearby business or residence. In short, how do I avoid looking like a criminal?

Edited by -Stitch-

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Or you could start with remote caches in the woods where stealth is not an issue. Then tackle the urban caches.

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The best way to avoid looking suspicious is to avoid looking like you're trying not to look suspicious, if that makes any sense.

 

Constantly looking over your shoulder, glancing around furtively, ducking behind things etc. will only draw attention to you. I usually drive up and survey the scene to see how bad the muggle activity is....if it looks dicey I will often move on....nobody says you have to find then all. Some locations are only bad at certain times or on certain days.....some places that are muggle central on a weekday might be dead on the weekends and vice versa. You can always try again later at a better time. If the coast is clear I'll move in

 

Another advantage of reconnoitering the scene is that once you get a little experience, you'll learn many of the common hiding techniques. A quick scan of the scene might reveal exactly where the cache must be, so you can swoop in and make the grab like a boss without even much of a search, before anyone even has a chance to notice you're there.

 

It does get easier :)

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The best way to avoid looking suspicious is to avoid looking like you're trying not to look suspicious, if that makes any sense.

 

 

That actually makes a lot of sense, thanks. Mostly what I'm worried about are people becoming suspicious, and then either confronting me or calling the cops. (Not that they'd get there in time to question me)

 

Anyone else immediately thought of this?

 

 

That's actually what came to mind when I made this topic. :P

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Anyone else immediately thought of this?

 

Excellent - my caching techniques will greatly improve. The main thing I learned was to stay low. That helps tremendously with finding micros under benches. Staying low in the forest will keep me safe from being shot. This video should be included with the Intro App.

:ph34r:

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Anyone else immediately thought of this?

 

 

Yes! I was about to go look for it, you beat me to it! :)

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Anyone else immediately thought of this?

 

 

Actually, my first thought was: invisibility cloak

 

The invisibility cloak is the perfect solution. Make it large enough and the whole cacher can do his "drunken bee dance" unseen. B)

 

Just one problem - will the large ring moving through the city attract attention? :o

 

Oh, i've got it! The cacher is concealed by the optical cloak, and then a larger cloak conceals the first cloak! There's the solution, right?!

:ph34r:

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Hi, Stitch!

 

There are a bunch of threads about "stealth" in crowded areas, with some ideas. Here's one:

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=313946&st=0&p=5440881&hl=stealth&fromsearch=1entry5440881

 

That is a good thread. I got some useful tips, including using flash photography to disguise your search. Along with pretending to fix your bicycle, flash photography is a good way to search under a bench. However,

Don't try it under a bench with an occupant. It won't end well.

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Something to make yourself look normal. Walk your dog, bring a friend, walk around with your shoe untied, have a camera and take pictures of buildings, flowers etc. And talk to your GPS like it's a new type of phone.

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Something to make yourself look normal. Walk your dog, bring a friend, walk around with your shoe untied, have a camera and take pictures of buildings, flowers etc. And talk to your GPS like it's a new type of phone.

 

Great tips, there are many caches located in flagpoles here in Sweden, and I often walk with my shoe untied and then grab the cache. Doesn't actually draw a lot of attention in urban areas.

 

/Samuel

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Something to make yourself look normal. Walk your dog, bring a friend, walk around with your shoe untied, have a camera and take pictures of buildings, flowers etc. And talk to your GPS like it's a new type of phone.

And if you're a parent with young kids, bring them along. Best way to put people at ease.

 

Hardly anyone talks on their phone these days, so staring at your GPSr looks entirely normal. If you cache with your smartphone, no one even looks twice at you unless you're doing the drunken bee dance.

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And, never split infinitives!

Thank you. I'm sure proper grammar would help with not being noticed <_< Pet peeve?

 

This is subject to debate - I guess if it's important to someone, they could start an off-topic thread. :rolleyes: I think they're here to stay, and avoiding them leads to stilted, awkward language sometimes.

 

A well-known example occurs in the opening sequence of the Star Trek television series: to boldly go where no man has gone before; the adverb boldly splits the infinitive to go. More rarely, more than one word splits the infinitive in a compound split infinitive, as in: The population is expected to more than double in the next ten years.

 

As the split infinitive became more common in the 19th century, some grammatical authorities sought to introduce a prescriptive rule against it. The construction is still the subject of disagreement among English speakers as to whether it is grammatically correct or good style: "No other grammatical issue has so divided English speakers since the split infinitive was declared to be a solecism in the 19th century: raise the subject of English usage in any conversation today and it is sure to be mentioned." However, most modern English usage guides have dropped the objection to the split infinitive.

 

♤♡♢♧♤♡♢♧♤♡♢♧

 

Back to invisibility. The smartphone is a good tool. Walk around GZ, studying the screen but taking in the surroundings. Soon you have 2-3 key spots to check further. When the coast is clear, search.

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Like some other posters here, I find that wandering around GZ with your smartphone out draws the least amount of attention.

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Remember that, especially in a more urban setting, most people won't pay you any mind. They're too busy getting where they need to go, looking at their phones, etc. With that said, though...

 

Many of the previous posters have described my methods for remaining unseen, but two that I haven't seen mentioned here specifically are what I call the drop-and-grab and the clipboard method. The drop and grab is really good for caches that are under benches, along a fence, etc. All you do is place a quarter, key, etc. where you're searching and, if anyone comes over to ask you what you're doing, say you're searching for said object and then grab it and be on your way. The clipboard method is more conspicuous, but most people tend not to bother someone with a clipboard. What story you make up to justify your odd behavior is up to you - I usually say I'm doing a scavenger hunt of some sort and most people will just let you be. I actually have a little sheet up paper with some faked directions on it that I clip to my sheet. It's a little complex, but it works for me and is fun in a sneaky kind of way. I've seen people pair this with bright yellow construction vests to make it even more official.

 

Also, just be aware of things like where you are, what image you're projecting, etc. If you're a man who's wearing sunglasses, has his hood up, and are searching around a playground by yourself, you're going to have the police called a lot faster than if you're wearing a tshirt and are with your children, nephew/niece, friend's kid, etc. Try and make yourself blend in as much as possible and people will be less likely to notice you.

 

Also, when someone passes you, just acknowledge them with a head nod and smile. The more shady you act, the less likely that their eyes are just going to glide over you as they move along with their day.

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we even 'occupied' a GZ location for a while by standing to smooch while passers by cleared out the way, that's my favourite :D

Ah, to be young again *sigh* (that's an envious sigh, btw :))

 

PDA (public display of affection) is definitely a good way of avoiding attention - most people will give you the privacy, unless you get a little too affectionate :ph34r: Rather hard when caching alone, I must say :lol:

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Getting to affectionate while caching alone could get one into a bit of trouble, I do believe. :smile:

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we even 'occupied' a GZ location for a while by standing to smooch while passers by cleared out the way, that's my favourite :D

Ah, to be young again *sigh* (that's an envious sigh, btw :))

 

PDA (public display of affection) is definitely a good way of avoiding attention - most people will give you the privacy, unless you get a little too affectionate :ph34r: Rather hard when caching alone, I must say :lol:

 

Self love will definitely make passerbys clear the area!!! :o :o :blink:

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Also never lie to a cop or park ranger about what you are doing. Also I find early morning on the weekends and holidays work great in urban areas then by noon I move to the rural areas or less populated.

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Always remember that you look like you are up to something because you ARE! It is hard to hide! After you become suspected you are probably going to ruin the cache by having muggles investigate this guy who is up to something. They never mind their own business! Find the cache by pretending to take pictures and carry a bug guide with you. Once you find it, return and retrieve later when noone interested in you is looking! If a real bug hunter questions you in detail - tell him to - Bug Off! HA HA! Good Luck and my best advice is just stay away from muggles and get back in the woods! It is wonderful out there!

Edited by GPS-Hermit

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I just go ahead and look. I am not sneaky at all. If someone asks I tell them the truth, you may get a new cacher.

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Found a cache once wearing a reflective vest and hardhat. No one bothered me as I stood looking up into the trees.

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New motto as of a couple of years ago: "Stealth is vastly overrated". That’s my reply to the Groundspeak video linked at

 

That motto is also what led us to the 'cover' demonstrated over here in the 'Design' thread here >>> http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=325185

 

Don't kid yourself on your 007 abilities - not one in a million cachers (are there really that many of us?) has been trained to properly service a dead drop (see http://www.stratfor....-and-dead-drops for a definition at 2:00 into the video), and a comparison between that bit of tradecraft in a public space and searching for a geocache in a muggle-prone area isn't all that far off. The net result of many cacher’s attempts at stealth is to accomplish just the opposite by their actions. Being unseen and unnoticed without Harry’s Cloak of Invisibility is impossible in many settings, especially urban ones, and where being observed is unavoidable, acting in an unnatural fashion in an attempt to be 'stealthy' often attracts more attention, not less.

The STRATFOR video is instructive. Watch beyond 2:00 as the person under surveillance ducks under the bridge - something nearly all of us will have done at one time or another in search of a cache. As noted, the clothing being worn is appropriate to the trail situation (he would have looked pretty silly in a 3 piece suit), but the bag just doesn't cut it, and to me, this fellow's demeanor seemed much too tentative. Go boldly, and all that...

 

I've heard stories of cachers with their clipboards and day-glo vests and other similar techniques that might help a muggle observer to create their own inaccurate ideas about the reason you're there, but these still often provide only a little more reasonable explanation for whatever actions you are taking in your search. Without a decent cover story, no disguise, including a day-glo vest, is going to convince that mall parking lot cop that just rolled up out of nowhere that you have good intentions. A real LEO will tend to be better informed about this game, or if not, will probably be more interested in hearing about it. There's never a good enough reason not to play it straight with them.

 

A while back, after one too many awkward encounters, we gave up stealth altogether except as needed to avoid exposing the cache to others during physical handling of the container. Apart from very rare exceptions, our searches are conducted with no attempt to avoid being observed. See that 'Design' thread, mentioned above. It's UN-stealth as you can get. And now we have no problems with mall parking lot cops. We have had people volunteer to open locked gates for us. We've had utility crews ask whether there was adequate space for us to park. LEOs who find us parked on shoulders, if they stop at all, will only check to make sure all is well and ask nothing else.

 

Unless we choose to engage a muggle - and we do when there's time and when 'it feels right', and have made a few new converts over the years - our usual cover story for all but real LEOs is simple, explained by our actions, our attire, waypoint lists on the dashboard, our vehicle placards and little yellow light on the roof (handy for 'creative parking') and the presence multiple GPS units ... we're confirming the location of benchmarks. Once in a while, it's even true. 99.9% of the time, it isn't even necessary to resort to that bit of fiction because our appearance and actions allow the observer to arrive at their own incorrect conclusions about why we are present and what we are doing. We then we need have no interaction with muggles at all unless we choose to do so. We don't try to be unobserved or even ignored. We present an image that allows an observer to form their own incorrect idea about our presence such that most of the time, we simply create no interest for them.

 

 

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... because our appearance and actions allow the observer to arrive at their own incorrect conclusions about why we are present and what we are doing.

I was mistaken for a surveyor once. A resident in the neighborhood thought I was surveying some land to be developed. She wasn't in favor of development. At the end of the encounter there were two somewhat confused person :)

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