Jump to content

More bad press for geocaching?


Recommended Posts

Just an article on the front page of the local paper about a cache suspected of being something sinister. I can understand the security forces being overly cautious and I guess we should respect tighter restraints while placing urban caches until things calm down some but this brought up several questions.

1. Can we be held responsible(read fiscally) for placing a cache to near some restricted area?

2. Would a clever terrorist be able to use this sport to do something bad?

3. How many false alerts before we get some legislative repercussion.

4. What can be done to avoid the bad press?


Actually the article is very neutral about this sport, but the headline is a bit negative. Here's the url http://www.standard.net/.


It's to bad about this cache and the people overreacting to it. I've visited this one. It was a good, simple hiding spot. Maybe if the guy hadn't been dressed in a black trench coat.


On a side note: Jeremy, how many times do you get contacted in response to one of these?

Link to comment

Techno game brings out Hill bomb squad


Wed, Feb 26, 2003



Standard-Examiner staff


ROY -- One man"s techno game was another man"s suspicious package Tuesday when reports of an overcoat-clad man placing a red tackle box under a bridge brought traffic to a grinding halt and brought out the bomb squad.


Around 2:45 p.m. near the Hill Air Force Base gate in Roy, someone saw a man dressed in a long, black trench coat walk toward a bridge that spanned a nearby canal, pick up a red container and then place it back under the bridge, Sgt. Mike Elliott, Roy police, said.


"The close proximity to the base made it even more suspicious, so we really had to proceed with caution until we knew what it was," Elliott said.


The container turned out to be a red plastic fish tackle box containing a variety of "junk toys and trinkets" placed there apparently by a group of high-tech adventure seekers, known as "geocachers." The would-be super sleuths use a global positioning system and clues left on a Web site to track down the package, or cache, full of various items.


"The basic idea (of geocaching) is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet," according to the Web site, www.geocaching.com. "GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache."


That was what the man dressed in the trench coat was doing, Elliott said. In fact, the cache has been visited by approximately 80 people since it was hidden Oct. 12, 2002, by someone with the login name "Wildcat Treasuregirl," according to the Web site.


But with base traffic getting ready to reach its peak during a 3 p.m. shift change, and the possibility the container was something of a sinister nature, police had to take the situation seriously.


While traffic in the area was shut down for an hour or more, a bomb squad from the base was called to the scene to investigate the package.


Word of the cache discovery quickly reached the geocachers as a warning message was posted on the Web site telling people to stay away.


"We just received an e-mail from someone at HAFB that the police and bomb squad was here investigating a mysterious box," the posted message said. "We suggest you stay away from this cache for the time being. This might not be a good location for a cache with the current world situation."


Another geocacher wrote: "They didn"t take kindly to a geocache placed under a bridge outside the entrance to a military facility. Too bad, it was a great cache!"


Elliott said once the squad located the container, they determined it was full of harmless materials after X-raying it rather than blowing it up, which was once a standard procedure of suspicious packages.


"Because of the biological and chemical threats these days, the bomb squad"s protocol has changed quite a bit," Elliott said. "Unless they can confirm it is an explosive, they will do everything they can not to blow it up."


Elliott said he understands how playing the geocache game can be a fun adventure for people who chose to participate, but he questions the reasoning behind placing it so close to a military base.


"Probably not the best place in the world to be putting something like that," he said.


According to the Geocaching Web site, there are 43,633 active caches in 162 countries.


In the last seven days, there have been 28,581 new logs written by 5,808 account holders.




Seams like a rather unbiased article with just the facts. As they say any press is good press.



Link to comment

Well, I am very new to the Geocaching world. Bought my first GPS a couple of days ago, (ETrex Vista) and just learned of Geocaching. I have found 2 so far and looking forward to many more adventures. I found that Geocache on the sight last night and was going to go today, guess that is out of the question now huh? lol. Oh well, many more around here to choose from. I am going to be placing one here soon that should be a really fun one. and there are no others too close to it that I have seen. (and not near any military zones)hehehe Too bad that had to happen, thought it was going to be a fun one. Sad part is before 911 no one would have probably thought anything about it. icon_frown.gif

Link to comment

Besides military bases, geocachers should be aware that public water supplies are also sensitive locations. Bird-watchers who used to check out municipal lakes for gulls and waterfowl have reported that they are being escorted to some of the watching locations by water plant or security personnel. Tulsa wanted to close public access to the two local water supply reservoirs after finding grenades and ammo dumped in one of them. The lakes are popular places for walking, and residents reminded officials that recreational use was promised decades ago when the lakes were first built. So they are still accessible, but you will be watched when you go there.

Also- geocachers should review the geocaching policy on placing a cache. It requires that you get permission of the landowner or the property manager. Granted, a bridge or a roadside does not seem to have a manager, but SOMEONE is in charge of maintaining the structure or the right-of-way. That someone is likely to be territorial, in the worst case scenario, but on the other hand they can also be extremely helpful. Someone who manages or maintains a site can advise you of potential problems, like being too close to a military base, or being situated in a place where undercover police are watching for drug-dealing activity, or perhaps what you thought was park property is actually a bit of land belonging to a crabby neighbor looking for any excuse to raise trouble with the park. At worst, they'll tell you no. At best, you've been an ambassador of goodwill and paved the way for other geocachers. Believe me, property managers would MUCH rather find out about the wonderful sport of geocaching from someone who asks permission than from reading in the logs that there's been a cache on their properties for months or years without them knowing about it.

Link to comment

I can’t see this as “bad press” at all. The article clearly points out the game aspect of geocaching. Seems very even-keeled to me. I don’t really have a problem with the location; it’s been there for a long time.


I think the uninitiated would express surprise at how many geocaches are hidden very near them. The cache map for western Washington has huge blobs of caches in many areas. That’s the biggest thing I see in the story.


True, it could have been placed in an area away from both base and bridge; the owner should be commended for using a red tackle box (many will push this as evidence against ammo cans). It may very well have been the container that brought the alarm down a notch for the B-squad.


As for the comment about waiting until anything “blows over”, it probably never will. It’s a different world now. Without starting a political debate, we -as Americans- have been sitting on our duffs too long and taking our freedoms for granted for too long. We elected people to represent us who had other ambitions prioritized above freedom and the security thereof. If the power grid went down today, how long would the average citizen survive? There are people, including celebrities, protesting against our stand against Iraq’s WMD’s. When one of them is used against us, will they put their life on the line to protect others? No.


Oh well, **** happens. Live and learn. The game continues and for now, all is well. I just hope the base officials re-hid the cache as well or better than they found it.



Link to comment

My knee-jerk reaction to this thread was to criticize the judgment of placing a cache right next to a military base. But I've learned NOT to criticize caches based on the limited information available in the forums and even on the cache page.


In looking at the cache page, it's clear that the cache is near the Air Force museum which, presumably, is open to the public. More importantly, the "archive note" from the cache placer says that the museum staff WAS approached for permission to place the cache. They said nothing could be placed near the airplanes on display, but anything on the other side of the fence would be O.K. I'd sure call that "placed with permission."


That being said, it was interesting to read the logs from prior visitors, many of whom noted their discomfort in being so near a gated military installation with security guards.



I was formerly employed by the Department of Redundancy Department, but I don't work there anymore.

Link to comment

I was wondering what all the commotion was heading to work on base yesterday. As for another story about the cache:




This is one I'd visited awhile back. To bad that things are such that it caused such a panic. Reading logs on local caches, police have been involved in some way or other with several caches/cachers lately. Sad that things are this way.


By the way the cache name was "In plane site" GC9C3A. It was placed in between the freeway, and the Entrance to the Hill AFB museum and one of the entrances to the base itself.


Guess I'll have to head for Marksalot's cache this weekend. Shouldn't be anyone to worried if I'm up on the mountain.......

Link to comment

"Mission control, we have a suspicious looking object here. The object appears to be a painted 30 caliber ammo can. It is marked with the term 'Geocache' on the side of it. Can you check out geocaching.com and see if there is a cache close to these coordinates?' 'Roger that' there is a cache nearby and according to the coordinates you are within 20' of it. It's called 'Blow Me Up, Pluuueeeeaaase!'


Rather than criticize our cache locations which are normally places the public can visit without restriction, perhaps they should recognize that there are now thousands upon thousands of suspicious objects placed. This is one way to help rule out a bomb. In another thread on this a person posted that they came from a country that had terrorism and that bombs were placed in places like trash cans and so forth. In short places that geocachers don’t get put.


Wherever you go there you are.


[This message was edited by Renegade Knight on February 26, 2003 at 08:24 PM.]

Link to comment

I started this to present an hazard to geocaching. I had hoped to get some direct responses to the questions I posed and perhaps develop some solutions. Thanks to ScoutMaster this now is a duel thread current topic.

The other thread.

I don't see this type of thing happening frequently, right now, but I do see the possibility of geocaching being litigated to death (just what we need, more laws)and I really don't want to see this sport die, it's just too much fun.


I am glad the officials reacted seriously to this unknown threat. From their point of view you would have know way of telling what it was until the box was thourghly checked. Even if it was well marked and they knew of the web site doesn't mean the bad guys didn't place it or had modified the container.


To me the best idea is to avoid placing caches in probable target areas, which is to bad because it is really going to restrict the possible sites to places away from our population.


Perhaps Jeremy could provide some stats to show a growing problem or just my paranoia. icon_eek.gif

Link to comment

Originally posted by marksalot:

I started this to present an hazard to geocaching. I had hoped to get some direct responses to the questions I posed and perhaps develop some solutions.


There are plenty of geocachers on this forum who have logged over 100 finds. Along the way, they must have encountered a cache or two in an illegal, inappropriate or less-than-ideal location. Think back on the caches you've visited, and if there are any that could be a problem, DO SOMETHING. Email the cache owner with your concerns, or ask Jeremy to archive the cache.


Open up a Pocket Query in your favorite mapping software, and do a quick scan of the caches in your area. Are any located along railroad beds? Near military bases? Under bridges? DO SOMETHING.


The actions of a few concerned geocachers could go a long way toward preventing future incidents involving poorly-placed geocaches.



Dan Foster

TopoGrafix: GPS Software, Waypoints, and Maps


Link to comment

While the article posted to the forum seemed pretty neutral, the (police?) official interviewed in the news story called it a "disruption and public hazard" or something along those lines. Bad press indeed.


My desire to throttle the guy nonwithstanding, though, the bomb squad seems to have handled the situation correctly. I just wish he wouldn't single out geocaching - after all, false alarms happen all the time.



Delete windows to communicate freely with me.

Link to comment

Here is a follow-up report by the local television station. The video clip is a bit more detailed than the transcript.


I think they covered the incident in a fair manner. I agree that the police chief probably overstated the potential for harm, but he seems to have dealt with it properly. A couple of cachers in that area are working to recover the contents of the cache.


The Utah Association of Geocachers has also been discussing the incident and it's implications. They are looking at other nearby caches which may also be considered to be inappropriately placed.

Link to comment

reports of an overcoat-clad man placing a red tackle box under a bridge


Everyone seems to be focused on the issue of the cache being placed under the bridge. This cache, as others have stated had many finds. And permission. No one seemed to have a problem with it until yesterday. I think the real problem here is exactly what the story led off with.


The guy was wearing an overcoat!!


Who in their right mind would go snooping around in an overcoat? For crying out loud man, you probably looked like a terrorist. No one has ever suggested that in my running clothes I look at all suspicious (other descriptions yes, but not suspicious).



Link to comment

I understand this was cache was in a Red tool box, right? Did the box have anything on it? Like the website address or something like, this is part of a game for more info visit www.geocaching.com!!! I thought this was a standard for caches, if not maybe if the box said that the police could have looked up the site before calling in the bomb squad!!


As far as the person who called, I come from a suburban area and people just can't mind there biz.....I work untill 9 pm when i get home I go for walks around my circle shaped neighborhood, and people call the cops because its dark out and someone is walkiong around....


Cache Now, shovel the snow later!!!

See You In the Woods!!!


Link to comment

What I find ironic about all of this... If the cache was inside a McDonald's bag or black trash bag, it would have been totally ignored. It's the obvious that tends to garner attention and/or suspicion.


The sport is definitely interesting, since the objective is to find an item hidden, but make the cache container non-threatening and obvious. It's a constant conflict since the site lists the exact location but it still remains "hidden"


This isn't the first incident of a cache being destroyed by a bomb squad. I can think if 3 different situations around the US where this has happened. I was told by one organization that actually called me before destroying the device that they would use it as an exercise for their team (they couldn't get in touch with the owner fast enough).


What makes this different from other incidents where suspicious items are destroyed is that the hiding of the cache was an "overt act," meaning that it was placed with a note explaining what it was. As such my belief is that Letterboxes, McDonalds containers and discarded fanny packs are also destroyed routinely, but they don't have a note telling the bomb squad where it came from.


Jeremy Irish

Groundspeak - The Language of Location

Link to comment

These days you go to the airport get your boarding pass and sit in the waiting area. Another person comes along, gets a boarding pass sits down nearby. That person gets up and wanders over to the coffee bar. In a few minutes myself and several other passengers are notifying the airline folks and security about the abandoned baggage.


I hope the guy placing the cache doesn't get fined or in some kind of trouble over this.


Capn Skully

Vini Vidi Velcro I came I saw I stuck around

Link to comment

Originally posted by pdxmarathonman:

_The guy was wearing an overcoat!!_

Thank you, that's exactly what I find hilarious about this. The overcoat is mentioned no less than three times in the article, as if when you graduate from Evil School you're issued one.


Just imagine if the guy had been rubbing his hands and going, "Heh, heh, hehhhh..."



Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann, und ich hab' auch im Blut

Link to comment

Package puts HAFB on pins, needles

By Derek Jensen

Deseret News staff writer


ROY — A scavenger hunt put police and military personnel on alert after a woman saw a suspicious package left outside an entrance to Hill Air Force Base.

The package turned out to be a red tackle box filled with trinkets used as part of an Internet-based scavenger hunt involving global positioning satellite (GPS) enthusiasts. The scavenger hunts are growing in popularity around the world, but considering the heightened terror alert in the United States and looming war with Iraq, police and military officials were not amused with the location for this particular game.

"Very bad idea," Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham said of the location for the box. "Yesterday was proof in the fact that they probably altered or inconvenienced no less than 20,000 people. To some degree, everyone on the base was affected. . . . The location being at the gate of Hill Air Force Base is a lot different (than) if you hide it out in somebody's barn."

A woman contacted Roy police Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. to report that a man in a black trench coat driving an old tan pickup placed a package underneath a bridge in front of the Roy gate of Hill Air Force Base, Whinham said.

The bridge is in front of the base's west gate and goes over a secondary canal that supplies water to western Davis County and Weber County.

Police responded and could see the large box sitting underneath the bridge, Whinham said. Unaware of what the package was, Roy police called the bomb squad from Hill Air Force Base. Police also shut down the frontage road in front of the base, as well as the north and south offramps from I-15. The onramp to north I-15 was also closed, Whinham said.

The Roy gate to Hill AFB was also closed, along with the entrance to the Hill Aerospace Museum, Maj. Shawn Mecham said.

The gate, one of four on Hill AFB, and surrounding roads were reopened at 4:10 p.m.

Once the bomb squad determined the contents of the box, they turned it over Roy police. Local authorities subsequently posted a sign in the scavenger hunt location stating the site was no longer part of the game, Whinham said. Police estimate the location had been part of the game for at least three months.

According to Mecham, following the incident someone posted a message on the scavenger-hunt Web site suggesting it was a bad idea to place hidden treasure so close to a military base.

Added Mecham: "We definitely concur with that."




No specific mention of Geocaching in this one. icon_smile.gif

Link to comment

'Police responded and could see the large box sitting underneath the bridge, Whinham said.'


Obviously this trench coat guy needs some caching classes- wrong clothes (I believe there is a thread to address that-but I can't markwell)AND he didn't re-hide it well for the next finder, which happened to be bombsquad. icon_rolleyes.gif

Link to comment

I personally live 9.41 miles from This cache and logged it on December 12 2002. As I remember It did have "Geocache" written on the Container in Black Magic Marker. The Container was a small Child size Fishing Tackle Box Bright Orange in color. The last person to log the Cache is my neighbor who I think works in a Bank or credit Union. I am not surprised He was wearing a Trench Coat It was raining that day and He was probably grabbing a quick cache on his lunch break. What I think is most interesting this cache had something like 75 logged visits before someone decided it looked suspicious. As for as how well it was hidden The Name of the cache is "In plane site" but you had to look under the edge of the bridge to see it. It could not be seen from the road.

Scout Master


we'll See ya on the Trail

Link to comment

My humorous tone and teasing didn't come across well in my last post.


I can totally see why someone may be caching in whatever clothes they were wearing-and how a bright red tackle box would be visible without bushwacking-


It's just humorous that we spent so much time discussing cache outfits and the media catches us all dressed up in our civies!! icon_wink.gif


charlotte of bloomcru

Link to comment

From what I've read and heard locally, the clothing was a big part of what made the individual look so out of place. What's ironic is that had the person been wearing a full Battle dress uniform, and placed something looking like say a 2000 pound aircraft bomb right beside the road, I doubt anyone would have thought much of it. It would have looked pretty much appropriate for the area, maybe a museum display.


I've tried second guessing myself since I had visited the cache in the past. Being retired military, and someone who has been on the receiving end of a terrorist bomb in the past, should I have figured out it might cause trouble in the future and said something. For me, at the time the answer was no, as so much of what I see everywhere in life could potentially be something bad. Personally I worry a lot more about cars, trucks, etc. A creative person could use just about anything to negative effect, especially if they're willing to face virtually any consequences. I find it sad that so much of Americas future will probably be filled with second guessing, fear, etc.


For what it's worth



Link to comment

It occurs to me that if I were one of those nasty, rotten stinkin' schemin' "Bad Person With A Scary Plot" type of folk, I would look at this whole incident like a school lesson: 'What I Shall Wear To Do My Dastardly Deed'.


Big, black overcoat, no. Military uniform yes. Middle-eastern turban and beard and robes: take a guess. Blue-jeans, redneck t-shirt and pro-america baseball cap, yes. Etc.


I think if Scary Plot Person REALLY wanted to blend into, for instance, really big city places, he could go the complete opposite and go as a cross-dresser and act really ga- uh, er, happy on his way to his meeting with his Maker.


The ultimate in urban camoflage right there... just think, who would suspect THAT??? icon_confused.gif


-Elana (a.k.a. "Sparrowhawk")

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...