Advice to Geocache Hiders from Law Enforcement

Use a well marked container
Use a well marked. clear container whenever possible

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.

  • Muero

    What is “a control”? Jargon isn’t useful without an explanation.

  • Good question… it’s a stop, as when you’re pulled over or asked “what’s going on here?” I’ll add an asterisks to clarify.

  • Bigguy In Texas

    Kudos to Groundspeak for offering complimentary Premium memberships to law enforcement. This is great PR that I am sure goes a long way to helping make geocaching more acceptable!

  • Marschkompasszahl

    Soweit kommt das noch, dass für die örtlichen Polizeidienststelle noch einen Geocaching-Grundkurs anbiete! Aber zum Glück ist man in Deutschland noch nicht so paranoid hinter jedem unbekannten Gegenstand gleich eine Bombe zu vermuten. 😉

  • hans415

    So what happens when a Terrorist decides to use an ammo can with a Geocache logo on it? The thought just occurred to me and I hope that never happens, but in today’s age they are always searching new ideas

  • Dylanthalus

    Great article. Helpful to have some perspective on caches. When I first started caching, I often thought I might look suspicious while searching for urban caches.

  • va3thn

    Exactly why only clear containers should be used… chances are that any container that authorities can not see into will be treated as suspicious regardless of markings.. It is a good question and I’d like to hear a bomb-tech’s thoughts as well.

  • Reviewer_Prime

    So based on this vital input from law enforcement, when will Groundspeak prohibit caches larger than a 9-volt battery?

  • DGeo

    Hey English is not his first language. Be Nice!

  • DGeo

    OK, her first language. Sorry Karin

  • Bob Bobson

    Jackbooted thugs offering advice on how to further limit your constitutional rights. Nice.

  • fun-fan

    Really? Just proof of your ignorance. There are a lot more police, military, and other professional security folks that enjoy and actively go geocaching. If anything, they would be advocates for other geocachers from the inside. Seems like your type is more threatening to this hobby.

  • Gringo871

    Excellent advice now that we’re officially living in a Police State ala Orwell’s “1984”

  • royswkr

    The state bomb squad told me that they don’t check the location online because any terrorist can open a geocaching account, similarly they ignore geocaching stickers. What they like is clear containers with nothing suspicious inside.

  • 4thnoel

    do we need written proof of the owners permission to hide on private property or on state land.

  • colleda

    With rights come responsibilities. We act responsibly and rights are preserved. If

  • Mel Barnhart

    depends. in delaware for instance there is a whole yearly permit thing that has to be done to put a cache on state park land. its free but must be done and location approved or it will be removed. they are really geocache friendly they just want to make sure state park land it kept in a certain condition. so check your local laws.

  • Mel Barnhart

    no one is going to suspect an ammo can in the woods, but one in the bushes in front on a court house… common sense would dictate when not to use large containers

  • HoustonBaynes

    Really, man? Do you lay awake at night to think up idiotic questions like that?

  • HoustonBaynes

    Don’t feed the loser, er I mean troll, folks. Don’t feed the troll.

  • Matt Aranson

    I have run into police a dozen times in 4 years, and they have, every single time, been spectacularly good natured, even when I was parked in some questionable spot during a questionable hour of say, the night. I don’t always agree with law-enforcement’s level of control over certain aspects of our lives, but I never have a problem showing an officer my ID or explaining what I’m up to when I’m geocaching. It’s not a limit of or attack on our constitutional rights when an officer wants to know why your fishing around for an extended period of time in a particular spot.

  • Ynot

    Cool your jets. Ive been in law enforcement for 30 years now. Nearly every police responce I have seen or heard about to what turned out to be a (suspicious) geocache: 1- was called in by a concerned or worried CITIZEN; 2- had been ill placed or made by someone that, as the article reads, did not use common sence; 3- or in the absence of #2, and most likely unbenounced to the Hider, ended up looking like a device that experience and training has demonstrated could be a harmful or explosive device (and again, called in by A CITIZEN). Think what you want about police actions in our society today from a political standpoint; that is our right, and as much as I may personally disagree with it, I will defend your right to it. But dont cheepen your point with a broadbrush foolish comment like this. On this point, the fault of this present issue in geocaching as it applies to Law Enforcement is more our fault collectively as cachers (due to the actions of a careless few within our ranks), and the activists and terrorists who-by intent or accident- have used geocache similar items as part of thier ongoing creativity in the relm of IED developement. Aside fromthat, happy, smart, and safe geocaching to you.

  • Ynot

    Rather than waste too much time on such a ridiculously foolish post, will just refer to my reply to Gringo.

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