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Advice to Geocache Hiders from Law Enforcement

posted Sep 11, 2013, 7:16 PM by Greg Jewett   [ updated Sep 11, 2013, 7:19 PM ]

Use a well marked. clear container whenever possible

Use a well marked container
The following article is being reposted with permission from Groundspeak from their monthly newsletter (edited).

Here are two words geocachers crave hearing when their geocache is published, “Found it.” And then there are two words all geocachers would prefer never to hear when talking about a geocache hide, “suspicious device.”

In an age of increased concern, geocachers must be increasingly diligent to follow the rules while hiding a geocache. Make sure to read and follow the Geocaching Listing Requirements/Guidelines. Also make sure to use common sense, and always keep in mind how your geocache container or the location of your container may be perceived by people who are not familiar with the game.

We asked law enforcement professionals and a bomb disposal tech with the U.S. Army to offer advice to geocachers. It’s easy to ensure your logs say “Found it” and your geocache hide never alarms authorities.

Here’s their advice.

Question: What are the do’s for geocachers when hiding containers?

Sgt. Kent Byrd answers this question. Sgt. Byrd has been featured in Geocaching videos, and is a Explosive Ordinance Disposal expert with the U.S. Army currently deployed to South Korea. He’s an avid geocacher with the username, JrBYRDMAN162.

Get permission: Sgt. Byrd says, “If you hide the container near a public building, make sure that you obtain permission from the business /property owner.”

Take pictures: “Also, try to give pictures of the geocache to the business/property owner. That way if the geocache gets called in, the owner has the option and ability to present those pictures to the personnel investigating/dealing with the geocache.”

Mark it clearly: The “Official Geocache” stickers are a huge help. Also, if the size of the geocache allows, write your phone number on the geocache itself in large numbers. This will give a law enforcement another option to deal with the geocache.

Be PROACTIVE: Talk to your local law enforcement entities. Offer to do a short workshop on geocaching. Get them involved. All it takes is getting one Bomb Disposal Technician involved in the game and they will start to solve the problem in your area for you, because of their personal love for the game.

Question: What’s your one piece of advice for geocachers?

Karin Fechner with the Austrian Polizei answers this question. Her unit, like many police departments, utilizes a complimentary Premium Membership to help them identify geocaches.

Karen says, “Always carry an id-card, passport or other document to be able to show it in case of a control. Show the navigation item or mobile-app you use in case of a control. We already had cases, when suspects claimed being geocachers but actually weren´t.  So it is always a good advice to show your equipment to the officer in case of a control. There are still a lot of law enforcement-officers who don´t know geocaching – of course there are also a lot of geocaching police-officers – but be prepared to explain what geocaching means and what you are actually looking for.”
Question: What shouldn’t geocachers do?

Josh Nelson answers this question. He’s with the Department of Natural Resources at Wasatch Mountain State Park in Utah.

Josh says, “If you are geocaching in a State Park (Specifically speaking for Utah, but with my experience it’s universal) and are confronted by a park employee or law enforcement, don’t try to give some story of “I saw a cool bug” or the likes. These stories are great for other muggles, but just make you look suspicious to Rangers. Just tell them you are Geocaching, often they know the program and may even enjoy hanging out with you until you make the find.”

Question: What are the don’ts when hiding a geocache container?

According to Sgt. Byrd, “DO NOT put caution words on the outside of containers such as CAUTION, WARNING, DANGER, BEWARE, DO NOT OPEN, etc., regardless of what follows such words.”

Sgt. Byrd says, “Do remember, that some departments do have Standard Operating Procedure’s that require them to deal with all packages of a certain dimension in a destructive manner. Nano-caches, micro, and mini, caches are not only less likely to be spotted by a muggle, but are not of great concern to Bomb Squads… Use the common 9-volt battery as a reference. If it is smaller than a 9-volt battery, it is much LESS likely to be destroyed.  Use clear containers whenever possible.”

Sgt. Byrd reminds geocachers that law enforcement are doing their jobs and their best to protect the communities they serve, whether it’s in Austria, a State Park in the U.S. or military serving abroad.

If you’re a Law Enforcement representative or Parks Personnel we offer a complimentary and ongoing Premium Membership for the purpose of monitoring geocaching activity in your jurisdiction. Learn more here at the Law Enforcement & Parks Professional resource page. Simply create a free basic account on Geocaching.com, choose a username that reflects your organization, and email us at geocaching.com/help for your upgrade.