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I really hate to say this and I don't want to jump on any paranoia bandwagons, but...

 

It seems to be, in my mind, very difficult to do what we do without looking "suspicious".

 

I would be the last to suggest that we "cower" to the terrorist types by modifying our behaviour in fear of their threats. That is not my issue.

 

My issue runs along the lines of not "causing a brother to stumble (fear)". My concern is that as we search suspiciously for caches in public view (especially urbans and especially at night) we might cause unnecessary fear in the neighborhood. I realize that this fear is mostly unfounded and that some people are afraid of their own shadows and there is nothing anyone can do to make them less fearful.

 

But perhaps, just perhaps mind you, it might be well for us to consider doing fewer "stealth caches" or at least being extra careful at times when our benevolent government is warning all our good citizens to "turn in their neighbors" for every suspicious activity.

 

I am not calling for a "ban" or a "moratorium" or another "rule". I am just pointing out that the present times are sensitive and the potential is there for some serious misunderstandings, some of which could result in serious consequences for the cacher.

 

You wear orange so hunters don't shoot you in the woods during hunting season. What do you wear or do so people don't (shoot you because they) think you're plotting to blow up the bridge?

 

I don't think this applies to caches that are not in "the public eye" such as those in the woods or out-of-the-way places. I think we should concentrate on these for awhile especially during high alert times.

 

I know this is a sensitive subject, but I think this is something we need to seriously consider, given the times. I have seen posts about this subject shutdown and I don't know why. We seem to be afraid to discuss this important and relevant topic.

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Having had an encounter with the police just 4 days ago while geocaching, I can relate to what you say, ChurchCampDave.

 

I am curious as to what "serious consequences" there might be for a cacher who was reported to the police. The officer I spoke to was jovial and understanding, and quickly released me after a quick glance at my GPS, my cache page and my identification.

 

I don't see any case where an ignorant bystander would draw a .45 and shoot down somebody just for walking in circles and staring at a small device. I like your proposal that it is wrong for us to invoke fear, however inadvertently, in a fellow human being. Then again, the same fear could be caused by anybody who does anything that is different.

 

I don't agree that we should abstain from placing or seeking caches in public areas because we might make someone uncomfortable. We have the same right to be at large as the next person, and I don't think there should be any Orwellian self-policing taking place.

 

I think that in time what we do will be common knowledge. Do you think that early photographers had to be careful not to take pictures in public because people might be afraid of them? Did the first person with a cellular telephone have to watch himself because people might think he was communing with the devil? Did the first person to use an umbrella get viewed with suspicion? Yes, I think maybe they did, but through perserverance, they became accepted, and even revered!!

 

So, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Endeavor to perservere!!!"

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The "serious consequences" would depend on the circumstances.

 

Most encounters with law enforcement will be like yours. Cops are generally well-trained and professional. But what about "neighborhood watch" types? I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically. I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

 

I actually decided against going after a cache that i really want to find yesterday because I would have been right out in the open prowling around a high voltage tower. (What's really interesting is the local radio station had just done a short news story about geocaching.)

 

I agree we need not stop our lawful activities (BTW TRESPASSING is NOT one of them). This is just something we should be careful about.

 

This begs another topic: Is publicity good or bad (I will open it)

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ChurchcampDave wrote:

But what about "neighborhood watch" types? I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically. I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

 

You know, you might just be right about that, Dave. I think that I am envisioning myself rather than other geocachers when I picture these hypothetical situations. I am of average height, slight of build, caucasian and have always thought I had an engaging smile (though when I was reported to the police, it was discribed as a "snarl" hehe). However, if I was exceptionally large and intimidating, with a predisposition to loom.... Or if I was of Middle Eastern descent, or looked it... If I wore rather shabby clothing. Then I could see myself causing concern while geocaching, and possibly initiating a very unfortunate accident.

 

In answer to your question of publicity being good or bad. Well, I think good publicity is good, and bad publicity is bad. :P

 

When National Geographic said that the biggest danger to the fossil beds in New Mexico were the fast-growing band of geocachers, that was bad. They quickly amended that, saying that they were supportive of the sport as a way of getting more people outdoors etc. Still, the average person might just remember that geocachers trash interesting areas because they show up like a stampede; In large numbers and without care or judgement.

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Having had an encounter with the police just 4 days ago while geocaching

 

I had an encounter with a police officer while geocaching this evening... luckily it was just a coworker :P Although most probably don't know, many of us do know about geocaching. In fact, I learned of geocaching via a teletype that gave details of the game. The department where I serve is one of the largest in the state and I'm proud to say that we have quite a few active geocachers B)

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When busted by locals I tell them what I'm doing. I'm not out making threats and activly invoking fear. If I'm called in by a neighborhood watch type more power to them for doing the right thing. I'm told in Boise that officers consider geocaching good training on how to use a GPS. In Pocatello I offered to teach the sherrifs office about geocaching but they didn't yet know enough to know they need to know about this yet. They will. I'll be around when the time comes.

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Thing is, this problem is not limited to geocaching. Many types of activities make the neighbors wonder. I had an encounter last summer with the local police while out looking for pennies in a park with my metal detector. Apparently someone called in and reported that someone suspicious was in the park and looked like they were lost with a weed-wacker. B)

 

Once the police understood what was going on, of course it was no problem. Funny thing was I could see this old couple out on their deck on the apartment building across the street talking to each other in a suspicious way, and pointing at me and the police as we chatted. :P

 

My friend had the police called on her for "lurking" while she sat in her car to warm up while watching her daughter sliding on the nearby tobbogganing hill.

 

So there are lots of ways to arouse suspicion in suspicious people.

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I don't really have a problem with cops or good citizens being vigilant (as long as THEY obey the law and don't go Ape about it).

 

But it has occurred to me that the time the cops spend responding to calls of "suspicious" LEGAL activity takes away their time that could be spent chasing important leads.

 

But then again, our benevolent government is wasting a LOT of cops' time harassing people about their seat belts. (I am a firm BELIEVER in seat belts and I never MOVE the vehicle without it fastened, but there are much better things the cops could be doing- and much better ways to spend MY money)

 

Some personal things I have considered lately:

 

I used to work on the "bend over and kiss yourself goodbye" sirens over by the nerve gas dump in western Indiana. I had a rental car that did not look in any way "official" and it crossed my mind that my activities would result in unnecessary police calls. I expensed a light bar to make it look more official. Same thing- why arouse unnecessary suspicion. Worked.

 

I considered this to get the cache on the electrical tower. I am uniquely equipped for this- sorta. I could have just parked in the street with my strobes on, put on my hardhat and found that sucker.

 

I decided against it because i don't know anyone in that area. Its kind of a catch 22. The strobes and hardhat would allay the suspicions of the average citizen, but would increase the suspicions of the local cops.

 

I'm getting a little paranoid about doing caches in the open in places where I'm not known. I've given up quickly on several lately because i felt there was a real good chance I was being watched. Some of the traditional ruses might take on a little different color during high alerts.

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I found over $3,000 worth of prescription drugs stashed in a tree stump while geocaching a month or so back. The police officer that responded to our call was very appreciative, and his brother turned out to be a geocacher.

 

Why must we dwell on the negatives when there are plenty of positive experiences out there? Aren't we ourselves more vigilant and aware when we are geocaching? Doesn't that count for something?

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I don't think of it as negative.

 

I enjoy caching. I don't think I'll quit. I don't think anyone should. I just opened this up as food for thought. I don't think the aspect of not engendering unnecessary fear among our neighbors has really been discussed.

 

i believe it is valid.

 

I don't think we can have any real responsibility for how someone else thinks, some will thinkl what they want regardless of what we do. But OTOH we should be cognizant of how our actions might be mis-perceived in a logical way.

 

Example:

If I walk down the street carrying a gun, some people will be afraid. There is no need for them to be afraid- I'm not threatening them- it is just a piece of iron and plastic. Still there are those who will fear.

 

But if I wear a uniform or a badge (or simply keep my gun well hidden) their fears will be less. (not necessarily any more rational than their fears without the badge)

 

If there is something I can do to realistically reduce the fearful persons' fears, shouldn't I do it- as long as it doesn't seriously inconvenience me?

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Aren't we ourselves more vigilant and aware when we are geocaching? Doesn't that count for something?

In one way it does but I think the original post was more about the perception of others, many of whom wouldn't know what a cache was if it jumped up and bit them. And, without that understanding or knowledge, all they will see is someone acting in a manner they don't understand. To put it in a word, 'suspiciously'...

Not all will jump to conclusions but it only takes one call to the authorities.

The OP has made a good point IMHO.....

I don't want more rules either, but it doesn't hurt to look around at what is happening as you search for a hide.

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Why must we dwell on the negatives when there are plenty of positive experiences out there? Aren't we ourselves more vigilant and aware when we are geocaching? Doesn't that count for something?

 

As a duly sworn officer of the law, I see nothing but positives for geocaching. It's family-friendly fun in the great outdoors.

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Cops are generally well-trained and professional. But what about "neighborhood watch" types? I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically. I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

That is really far-fetched where I'm caching.

 

I don't see any reason I should hide or search less stealth or public caches. It hasn't become a problem over here.

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The goal of the OP is admirable: not to cause discomfort, even when there's no reason for it.

 

The only partial remedy I can think of has already been mentioned, and that is to be straightforward with people if the occasion calls for it.

 

I have lots of experience with causing people to be uncomfortable in public places. My 15-year-old autistic kid walks with a strange gait and has some mild odd behaviors. Although most people really are good-hearted and tolerant, also most people's first reaction is clearly uncomfortable. They would simply rather not have seen us. It's a natural reaction.

 

Should we stay home because of this? Of course not. Should you not go geocaching because you might make people uncomfortable? Of course not. Just look them in the eye if it's appropriate, and explain yourself. And if you don't feel good about searching for some kinds of caches, then don't.

 

But don't let your puritannical streak take over! This is about having fun, after all!!

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Cops are generally well-trained and professional.  But what about "neighborhood watch" types?  I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically.  I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

That is really far-fetched where I'm caching.

 

I don't see any reason I should hide or search less stealth or public caches. It hasn't become a problem over here.

That's because your country is 2 insignifcant 2 be bombed. :( Hey, you said it first ... seriously though, in Kansas, we don't have too much to worry about ... I don't think we are very high on the terror bombing list. Then again, who would have ever thought OKC would have been a target?

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Good comments about dressing appropriately.

 

I seldom give that any thought. I cache how ever I'm dressed at the time. Usually that means my "work uniform" which is "Dockers" and a nice dress shirt or polo shirt. On weekends it will be shorts and tee shirt if temp is over 30.

 

I also have a new teardrop bookbag that I carry all my junk in.

 

It occurred to me yesterday whilst seeking a VERY NICE cache off of a city fitness trail that my dress and accessories looked VERY out of place.

 

Perhaps I should carry a few "disguises". Is it suspicious to change clothes in a parking lot? :(

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As was pointed out, not many are as observant as Geocachers. Times have changed. America, and most other civilized nations for that matter, have learned about terrorism. Being a retired combat vet, I think myself more aware and observant than most.

 

My first brush with terrorism was in the very early 80s, when they blew up HQ-USAFE at Ramstien Air Base. I was attending an army school there. I was two blocks away, and the concussion knocked me off me feet. I lived as such that I had to inspect my car every time I approached it, my garage door, and mailbox, etc. Americans overseas were targets then, but mainland USA seemed to be safe. Evertually the Army went to license plates for our cars that looked like the European plates, and the car bombings slacked off.

 

I have not forgotten any attack since then, from Bayrut to 9-11. America and its citizens have been lucky for over 20 years. But we are in their spotlight now.

 

Some think I am paranoid. My house has standing orders tied to the colored alert levels. Things like fuel in the car, money in the wallet, bug-out kits, weapons and ammunition, back-up communications, contact numbers to rally to for the city, state, or across the country-wide disasters, etc... all part of the plan. When danger strikes, it is too late to plan. You should have a few basic plans for situations ready, then act when needed. For instance, yellow alert, - your car is never below a quarter tank of gas. For Orange alert, not less than half a tank.

 

Divine's comments are amusing. I have long ago concluded that he lives in another world, and his comments are mostly not appropriate for our situations. They probably don't worry about stuff like this in central Mongolia either. But I do find them amusing.

 

The local police and fire know me. My home is a good place for coffee and sodas, a back-up phone call or radio, ammunition and weapons, whatever I can do to help. My wife even trains their dogs. Trust me, they appreciate citizens taking an active roll in the security of the neighborhood and city.

 

I say keep on caching. Get friendly with your local officials. Be alert. Help them when you can. Keep out of their way when you can't help. And if someone is suspicious of your action, take the time to introduce them to yourself and what you are doing. Mostly they fear the unknown. Once they know why you and others go to that same spot, it might even become a game for them to watch and laugh at.

 

Hope you found my musings both amusing and thought-provoking. What is in your bug-out kit? Do you have a bug-out plan? Rally phone numbera and rally points? God knows I hope none of us ever need them. But still..... what if???

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You should see the looks that I get when I'm walking about in a park...covering and uncovering the antenna of my Magellan with a piece of foil. I do this to simulate signal loss, as when diving to test my "deploy and recover" method. I sometimes have cars that drive by slowly, or even double back for a second look.

What about people that are afraid to fly? Even after a terrorist event this fear is rediculous...and it hurts our economy. People are quite fearful and "risk averse" in the more "sheltered" portions of our society.

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  But what about "neighborhood watch" types?  I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically.  I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

 

Careful there CCD, I was in a citizen patrol group in my neighborhood. These groups are usually people who care about their neighborhoods and volunteer to help make them safer.

 

Also, we are all trained that we don't carry weapons. We don't carry anything even remotely considered a weapon (not even leatherman tools or nail clippers). We are trained to observe and report to the police.

 

Before you go smearing a group of generally nice people, try learning something about them. :(

 

As for your concern, I would be less worried about people with .45's blasting away and more worried about overstretched police chasing after you when a neighbor reports you and missing a real crime.

 

The way to address this is to refine cache placement rules. We should have no caches with in 100 feet of a power line. (No caches, no geocachers, no problems.)

We could also add in that kind of policy for other public utilities and such. It would cut in on the number of geocaches available in some cities, but over all, it would likely improve safety and likely improve the quality of caches given that they would be placed in areas that are away from it all and thus the caching experience would be enhanced.

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Some think I am paranoid. My house has standing orders tied to the colored alert levels. Things like fuel in the car, money in the wallet, bug-out kits, weapons and ammunition, back-up communications, contact numbers to rally to for the city, state, or across the country-wide disasters, etc... all part of the plan. When danger strikes, it is too late to plan. You should have a few basic plans for situations ready, then act when needed. For instance, yellow alert, - your car is never below a quarter tank of gas. For Orange alert, not less than half a tank.

You don't sound paranoid to me, you are one of the normal ones that others will run to for help WTSHTF.

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Here's a thought - - -Perhaps we can return to a few of the guidelines that were designed to keep us away from sensitive areas. i.e., No bridges, train tracks, government or military structures, no bridges or close to power plants and substations. Perhaps we can consider a "No power line towers or radio antennas." It may cause some whining but we get our players away from areas that make others nervous.

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from KSL News, Utah

 

GPS Scavenger Hunt Causes Bomb Scare at HAFB

Feb. 25, 2003

 

A scavenger hunt ... for those who like to play with Global Positioning Satellites ... created a major bomb- scare at Hill Air Force Base, this afternoon.

 

News Specialist Samantha Hayes ... is live from the base, to explain.

 

The box was left under a bridge near the AeroSpace Museum.

 

A woman driving by noticed a man walking up to the box, opened it, put something in and then left.

 

Police got the call about this at 2:30, quickly closed off flow- in and out of the base and nearby roads including some freeway traffic. They secured the area and called out the bomb squad.

 

A lot of commotion over what ended up to be a child's red fishing box filled with little toys and a wire figurine and a homing beacon.

 

One of the officers identified it as a geocache....basically a box with scavenger items in it.

 

The coordinates of the object, and other clues, are posted on a web site for GPS enthusiasts to go find.

 

"GREG WHINHAM/CHIEF OF POLICE, ROY CITY: WE WOULD REALLY LIKE TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT TO PEOPLE THAT THIS CREATES CONCERN IN COMMUNITIES, A PUBLIC HAZARD AND PUTS PEOPLE AT UNDUE RISK."

 

Soon after KSL reported the bomb scare it showed up on the geocache website...

 

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.

 

It was hidden last October...and titled on the website as "In Plane Site"

 

Police say they would like to talk to the person who hid it...

 

Reporting live at Hill Air Force Base, Samantha Hayes, Eyewitness News.

 

And what have we learned from this?

Do not place caches near the gates of military bases!

 

(I know that I've posted this story before, but I figures that it was relevant to the topic)

Edited by Black Mage
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Here's one for you....... I work for the Dept of Homeland Security, at an airport, and I Geocache. Oh, and by the way, this is in NY. Some of the things we hear about to keep a look out for would scare the hell out of you. They do me.

 

I frequently come across good places to hide caches up around the airport area. I don't reccomend this. On the other hand, when I cache, I carry my DHS ID with me. Even so, I'll sometimes come across a cache placement that I'll avoid simply because I feel that it's in an innapropriate area for someone to be poking around in. I've been questioned by the police and have had to question people who I feel are in places they don't belong so I can see both sides of the issue.

 

As far as needing rules as to where we can hide caches....

Rules. We don't need no stinkin rules....... :D

What it basically comes down to is USE COMMON SENSE!

Don't hide caches where cachers looking for them will be veiwed suspiciously and don't look for caches in areas where you may be suspect. Basically, if you stay away from any areas of critical infrastructure you should be fine.

 

"Is it paranoia if they're really after you?" :(

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A very recent cache I found was within 20 feet of a RR Track, in the RR right of way, and one has to cross the track. It is an active spur very close to, and between an oil refinery and a chemical plant/facility. I felt very uncomfortable and emailed the owner, a new cacher with no finds. He said he discussed this with the approver. I still felt very uncomfortable......hope this does not end badly for a cacher.

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All I can say is that this weekend the state patrol in our area are on higher alert than normal and they are watching cars that park in strange places and people that act strange. So if you are looking for a cache around a RR or bridge or highway, you might want to wait until the weekend is over.

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Once, at a karaoke bar, I was having a good time with some friends when the police arrived, took me outside and frisked me. They said that the employees of the bar are required to report anyone who looked or acted suspicious, and that I had been reported because I had entered the restroom twice with another man, and my demeanor was such that they suspected I was purchasing and using narcotics. I wasn't even drinking!

 

The moral of the story, if there is one, is that some people look suspicious all the time, and should be prepared to deal with law enforcement officers at any venue. I imagine that they catch a number of criminals by these methods, even if they occasionally inconvenience innocent citizens.

 

I just don't think there's any simple way around these encounters. If they are handled with grace and tact, there is little about them that is negative.

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Here's a thought - - -Perhaps we can return to a few of the guidelines that were designed to keep us away from sensitive areas. i.e., No bridges, train tracks, government or military structures, no bridges or close to power plants and substations. Perhaps we can consider a "No power line towers or radio antennas." It may cause some whining but we get our players away from areas that make others nervous.

Some bridges may be an issue. Most won't be. Golden Gate? Good place for a virtual even if it has to be approved on another site. A pedestrian bridge in a local park? No worries.

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  But what about "neighborhood watch" types?  I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically.  I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

 

Careful there CCD, I was in a citizen patrol group in my neighborhood. These groups are usually people who care about their neighborhoods and volunteer to help make them safer.

 

Also, we are all trained that we don't carry weapons. We don't carry anything even remotely considered a weapon (not even leatherman tools or nail clippers). We are trained to observe and report to the police.

 

Before you go smearing a group of generally nice people, try learning something about them. :(

 

As for your concern, I would be less worried about people with .45's blasting away and more worried about overstretched police chasing after you when a neighbor reports you and missing a real crime.

 

The way to address this is to refine cache placement rules. We should have no caches with in 100 feet of a power line. (No caches, no geocachers, no problems.)

We could also add in that kind of policy for other public utilities and such. It would cut in on the number of geocaches available in some cities, but over all, it would likely improve safety and likely improve the quality of caches given that they would be placed in areas that are away from it all and thus the caching experience would be enhanced.

Sorry.

Bad choice of stereotype name.

The persons in question would be the vigilantes who have no training and take it upon themselves to be "the law" in their neighborhoods.

Do they exist? I don't know. Do I wish to encounter them if they do? NO!

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On an earlier comment I made regarding "seat belt checks".

 

I was discussing this "unnecessary inconvenience and harrassing of the common citizens" with the Wifemate last night and we came upon the idea that maybe there is more to this than "seat belt checks".

 

I have to admit it is a good ruse for looking into every car that goes by and I bet they DO find a lot of other illegal activity this way. Could be a VERY good tactic in a high alert time.

 

Still, it is patently unconstitutional and I would rather preserve our constitution and be a little less "safe" than be made to live in the "land of the FORMERLY free and the home of the SCARED".

 

I have spoken to many Homeland Security persons and to a person, they espouse the belief that our security is NOT worth violating citizens' rights. They "pledge" not to use "secret police" tactics, even if it means a few terrorists get by.

 

We shall see...

Edited by ChurchCampDave
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Divine's comments are amusing.

The amusing comments:

 

Cops are generally well-trained and professional.  But what about "neighborhood watch" types?  I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically.  I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

That is really far-fetched where I'm caching.

 

I don't see any reason I should hide or search less stealth or public caches. It hasn't become a problem over here.

Yup, I find it amusing too that the possibility of "a bystander pulling a .45" at me is practically a zero. :blink:

 

I have long ago concluded that he lives in another world
From: Tampere, Finland

Clever conclusion! Same world, different coordinates.

 

and his comments are mostly not appropriate for our situations.

Assuming 'our' means 'the US' here, I'd say you're right again. I'm sure some people consider it interesting how things are in other parts of the world. I am too.

 

They probably don't worry about stuff like this in central Mongolia either.

Maybe we'll have some central Mongolian cacher to join the discussion some day. :ph34r:

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Cops are generally well-trained and professional.  But what about "neighborhood watch" types?  I have considered the possibility as you said of "a bystander pulling a .45", but did not want to say that specifically.  I do not believe it is that far-fetched.

That is really far-fetched where I'm caching.

I don't see any reason I should hide or search less stealth or public caches. It hasn't become a problem over here.

 

Yup, I find it amusing too that the possibility of "a bystander pulling a .45" at me is practically a zero.

 

Oh... I thought the "far fetched" part referred to the "cops are generally well trained and professional".

 

:blink:

 

(INTENDED TO BE FUNNY! DON'T HAVE A COW)

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