Geocaching Geocoins Help Crack a Theft Ring

Heather, aka "Craftea", with her recovered Geocoins still in the police evidence bag
Heather, aka “Craftea”, with her recovered Geocoins still in the police evidence bag

There’s something special about a Trackable at Geocaching.com—it’s actually trackable. You know who owns it. You know where it’s been, and ideally, where it wants to go next.

Now imagine you’re a police detective. You serve a search warrant on a storage locker. You find evidence you believe is stolen. But how do you prove that evidence actually belongs to someone else? Then, you see a glistening Geocoin, with a tracking number.

Heather, aka Craftea, from Washington state in the U.S. was the beneficiary for just such a series of events and some real crafty police work.

She says her story began in November of 2012. “My home was burglarized and I lost a great many items, including a three-ring binder with baseball-card pockets where I kept my geocoin collection, and a bag of geopins along with more standard stuff like laptops and other electronics.”

Her day to day geocaching wasn’t completely interrupted thanks to a lucky break, “Thankfully my GPS was in the car with me when my home was being broken into so I didn’t lose that. The responding cop didn’t give me much hope that any of my things will ever be recovered but it still took me several months before I finally went online to mark each of my coins as missing, feeling that made it more final, like I was giving up hope.”

Months passed, life continued. And Heather began to move on. “I did, really, give up hope, and while I feel the loss of my things just about every day, I am slowly replacing things as I can afford to.”

The whole experience came back to her after it was nearly forgotten. “It was with a bit of a shock when I got an e-mail from a detective from Seattle’s West Precinct with front-and-back pictures of one of my geocoins with a note saying that it and ‘several others’ were recovered during a search warrant issued on a storage unit. He said he recognized it as a Geocoin and logged on Geocaching.com and did a search with the coin’s code and saw my profile and that I had marked it missing and wanted to know why.”

It was an email she quickly responded to, “I contacted him and was able to either describe the coins or give him the code after he described them to me. He had “4 or 5″ of them and he was satisfied they were mine. After more search warrants were issued on a different storage unit and a house associated with the same people as were for the original unit where my coins were found, the detective contacted me again and invited me to his office to pick up my coins and look at the pictures of the suspects as well as go through photos of evidence they’d recovered.”

One of the Geocoin lost in the burglary
One of the Geocoins lost in the burglary

“When I got to his office, he handed me 5 coins…” But for Heather the Geocoins are more than pieces of metal imprinted with a custom tracking code. They were reminders of adventures past and friends who offered the Geocoins as presents, “Two were gifts from FrodoB, one was a gift from Rey del Roble, one I earned at The Dalles Dash geocoin challenge and the 5th was an unactivated geoachievement coin given to me by my friend, MacCrew, from New York. Precious memories!” Check out the Trackable Details page from one of the lost and recovered Geocoins.

Heather also received a few of the other items that were lost to the thieves who broke into her home. Among them, she has recovered a sense of justice, “There is still a great deal of loss but it was exciting to get back a few pieces, and knowing that a handful of geocoins connected the burglars to their crime against me (and many other homes…) and was instrumental in their arrest.”

  • Gary Eckhardt

    I made the mistake once of leaving my Geocaching backpack in my car in our driveway one night. The next morning I came out to a pile of broken glass and the backpack was gone. Unfortunately a friend’s borrowed GPS was in it, which insurance took care of, but there really wasn’t anything else of value in there. Also, it broke my heart to have to notify 3-4 people that their trackables were stolen, including one really cool Buddah statue that I was it’s first recipient. I still have the trackables on my watch list in hopes that they will eventually, somewhere be recovered by someone.

    I also have one my Geocoins go missing after being in the wild for a few months. Two years later I got an email from another cacher saying that he has my trackable – it was in his suitcase that was lost by the airlines, and they finally got it back to it’s owner! So, after a 2 year hiatus, it is now traveling once again!

  • Barbara Ower

    Wow. Just WOW!

  • Brian Harte


  • Steve Barnett

    I wish some of them were mine. I had 15 of them stolen after an event. I forgot to take them out of my car when I got home.

  • Katcogo

    I am constantly amazed at the secret life of trackables. I have personal experience with some that turn up in weird and wonderful places after been given up for lost. Once a coin of mine turned up at an event I hosted after being lost for almost 2 years. Never give up hope!

  • HD-McIncachers

    That’s soo cool! Saratoga Springs, NY needs some detective work like this; over ten “lost” trackables out of one cache, suspicious?

  • Gary, what an amazing story. Truly the secret lives of Trackables. Thanks for sharing, and congrats having your Travel Bugs traveling once more…

  • wakkanne

    This story gives me hope. My home was burglarized on Easter Sunday. One of the items they took was my geocaching backpack, which had my “Track This Cacher” geopatch sewn onto it and my “Look Twice For Bikes” geocoin that I used for logging my bicycle in and out of caches, hanging from the zipper.