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The Invisible Urban Geocacher


Winegar480
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I am sure others have thought of this, but I wanted to share for the benefit of any new geocachers that may have problems with mugglers. When I an caching in an urban area, whether it is residential or commercial, I don't want to attract attention, so here is what i do: I wear a orange mesh vest, a cap, work clothes, and I carry a clipboard with a few sheets of paper on it. When I am near a cache and looking around for it, if people see me, the automatically think I am some sort of city inspector, or maintenance person. They go on about their business and pretty much leave me alone. Of course, if they do aske what I am doing, I explain what Geocaching is, and they seem satisfied with that. I have yet to have any problems with mugglers. BTW- you can buy the vests at Harbor Freight. Hope this helps!

Winegar 480

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I've found that spectacle is better than stealth.  I can dress in one of my many Jester outfits and do whatever I wish and either 1. they will assume any wierd (i.e.. geocaching) thing I'm doing is funny and dismiss it, or 2. won't look, not wanting to give attention the strange guy.  Either way, my search is ignored.  It's truely amazing what you can get away with in costume that would get you in real trouble in street clothes.

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18 hours ago, Winegar480 said:

I am sure others have thought of this, but I wanted to share for the benefit of any new geocachers that may have problems with mugglers. When I an caching in an urban area, whether it is residential or commercial, I don't want to attract attention, so here is what i do: I wear a orange mesh vest, a cap, work clothes, and I carry a clipboard with a few sheets of paper on it. When I am near a cache and looking around for it, if people see me, the automatically think I am some sort of city inspector, or maintenance person. They go on about their business and pretty much leave me alone. Of course, if they do aske what I am doing, I explain what Geocaching is, and they seem satisfied with that. I have yet to have any problems with mugglers. BTW- you can buy the vests at Harbor Freight. Hope this helps!

Winegar 480

I've not dressed up specifically to avoid muggles, but as an added bonus those orange vests come in handy when geocaching in the woods during hunting season.  One thing I've found useful is having a DSLR camera and taking photographs from an unusual angle.  A couple of days ago I found the most frequently found cache in Berlin and sat down to get a low angle shot of some public artwork.  That also put me in the perfect position to grab the cache.

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19 hours ago, Winegar480 said:

When I an caching in an urban area, whether it is residential or commercial, I don't want to attract attention, so here is what i do: I wear a orange mesh vest, a cap, work clothes, and I carry a clipboard with a few sheets of paper on it.

Sorry...to me, this has the opposite effect.  Fluorescent vests and clipboards immediately make me wonder what's going on.  

Honestly, I've just come to realize that most people don't notice other people unless they are TRYING to go unnoticed.  I have literally pulled up a light post skirt not ten feet from someone sitting in a car with the windows down and they didn't even turn their head.  I really just recommend putting away all the silly get-ups and just grab the cache.  I'd rather get my cover blown wearing the clothes I normally wear than by pretending to be a utility worker or something.  

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We've yet to see someone making the claim of acting out a  "some sort of city inspector, or maintenance person" fantasy working.  "Hello police?  There's some guy dressed like a road crew member at one of our light poles. The inspector was here last week. "

Law enforcement in most areas  I've worked would stop by, realizing you don't belong there.  Why create an issue for yourself?  

Many towns have "colorful" local residents acting similar, usually talking to somebody that only they can see, but they're regulars...

More people notice than some believe.

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1 hour ago, cerberus1 said:

We've yet to see someone making the claim of acting out a  "some sort of city inspector, or maintenance person" fantasy working.  "Hello police?  There's some guy dressed like a road crew member at one of our light poles. The inspector was here last week. "

Law enforcement in most areas  I've worked would stop by, realizing you don't belong there.  Why create an issue for yourself?  

Many towns have "colorful" local residents acting similar, usually talking to somebody that only they can see, but they're regulars...

More people notice than some believe.

My neighborhood has a Facebook group and the other day it lit up when someone asked about a group of surveyors seen on one stretch of road.  I just think the whole "dress like an inspector or surveyor" think makes no sense and I've never understood why people keep suggesting that.

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A hi-vis vest should be enough if that's what you're looking for. It's not "dressing like an inspector", it's just high visibility. But I think most people think when they see that the first impression is 'construction worker'. But cyclists wear them. Joggers. Anyone intending to be visible. Nothing wrong with that, and certainly makes you less "suspicious" (why would you want to be seen?).  Clipboard is another idea. Doesn't imply you're anything other than a person with a clipboard. But it's easy for someone to infer something official. :P

I don't personally do any of that, but I understand people who do, and I've never heard of any issues with misunderstanding or law enforcement. otoh, wearing high vis could make interacting with law enforcement that much more cordial if necessary.

Of course, all of this is contextual to the neighbourhood. Always be aware of what type of neighbourhood it is :) and plan and act accordingly.

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15 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Clipboard is another idea. Doesn't imply you're anything other than a person with a clipboard. But it's easy for someone to infer something official. :P

Been there a few times.  Not trying to "look" anything; I just take a clipboard along for something to write on, and/or to keep hardcopies I've brought with me.  Combined with a GPSr (surprising how many people don't know one by sight, or mistake it for a 2-way radio...) people do tend to draw their own conclusions.

Had a clipboard with me one day while searching for a cache in an "extremely high muggle area".  I spotted the concealed hide from a combination of coords. & cache description, but between the dozen or so muggles within 25 ft. of the hide, and the maintenance crew working on the hide, there was no way I was going to pull it off, so I took a seat to ponder the situation.  Almost immediately, a woman struck up a conversation, asking me if I were a supervisor/inspector.  (I've worked as an engineering inspector in my younger days).  I told her, "No," and explained exactly what I was doing (without revealing the location of the hide).  I've not been back to find that cache, but others have found it since, so no harm, no foul...:ph34r:

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1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

A hi-vis vest should be enough if that's what you're looking for. It's not "dressing like an inspector", it's just high visibility. But I think most people think when they see that the first impression is 'construction worker'. But cyclists wear them. Joggers. Anyone intending to be visible. Nothing wrong with that, and certainly makes you less "suspicious" (why would you want to be seen?).  Clipboard is another idea. Doesn't imply you're anything other than a person with a clipboard. But it's easy for someone to infer something official. :P

A small trash bag is another idea. It doesn't imply you're anything other than a person picking up litter.

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4 hours ago, RufusClupea said:

Been there a few times.  Not trying to "look" anything; I just take a clipboard along for something to write on, and/or to keep hardcopies I've brought with me.  Combined with a GPSr (surprising how many people don't know one by sight, or mistake it for a 2-way radio...) people do tend to draw their own conclusions.

Had a clipboard with me one day while searching for a cache in an "extremely high muggle area".  I spotted the concealed hide from a combination of coords. & cache description, but between the dozen or so muggles within 25 ft. of the hide, and the maintenance crew working on the hide, there was no way I was going to pull it off, so I took a seat to ponder the situation.  Almost immediately, a woman struck up a conversation, asking me if I were a supervisor/inspector.  (I've worked as an engineering inspector in my younger days).  I told her, "No," and explained exactly what I was doing (without revealing the location of the hide).  I've not been back to find that cache, but others have found it since, so no harm, no foul...:ph34r:

I've never used a clipboard, but while on some hiking trails in the woods I've pulled out a notebook and pretended to write things down while "examining" a tree or bush. A notebook could be augmented with a tape measure or a camera.  Of course, living in a college town where there might be a fair amount of field research makes it look a little more plausible.   Instead of trying to appear that you're not looking at a bush or tree (where you suspect the cache might be, ) exaggerating an examination of the bush/tree might make it appear that you're interesting in the tree, rather than what it might be hiding.  

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On 10/2/2017 at 7:09 AM, J Grouchy said:

I have literally pulled up a light post skirt not ten feet from someone sitting in a car with the windows down and they didn't even turn their head.  I really just recommend putting away all the silly get-ups and just grab the cache. 

I do this all the time. Quite simply, nobody cares. I'm not that interesting.

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For me, the best trick to go unnoticed in an urban environment is to go with a small child in his stroller. This way you have an alibi to crouch down or look through bushes in a park. It used to work very well for me for a while, but my child no longer uses a stroller ....

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