NZ police alterted to Geocaching

February 14, 2008 | 07:34

Tags: #police #terror #terrorism

The geeky 'sport' of Geocaching – the placing and finding of hidden 'caches' via global positioning co-ordinates – could be rather more exciting than most people realise in the terror-filled climate of today, as a hapless Kiwi cacher found yesterday.

In a post to his personal website yesterday Ben Gracewood told of his rather exciting hour-and-a-half with the New Zealand police after he was nabbed hunting for an urban cache. The maintainer of the cache apparently placed it by a hand-rail next to a building on Mayoral Drive which was bristling with CCTV cameras. The operators of said cameras called the fuzz when they saw someone fiddling with the package.

After the police had gingerly investigated the device and had been treated to a detailed primer on the hobby by Gracewood, they dispersed and issued a statement that shows that they weren't really listening. Calling what is essentially a waterproof container that has a pad of paper and some keyrings in it an “electronic package used by computer buffs that can be tracked electronically around the world,” doesn't show the greatest understanding, and the Auckland police manage to convey their sense of bewilderment (“This is what these guys do for fun?”) with the follow-on “The computer buffs use them as a form of entertainment.

You can almost hear the raised eyebrows and 'air-quotes' embracing 'entertainment' as you read that sentence.

Now, this isn't exactly a reprise of the Mooninites débâcle, as no-one got arrested and no-one got sued. Additionally, as you can see from the included picture, the creator of the cache could perhaps have chosen a container that didn't look like a limpet mine. Most of the urban caches I've seen – I'm a Geocacher, so you may commence laughing now – are rather more subtle 35mm film canisters placed away from important buildings.

Still, this story does highlight that in the world of today it's always worth thinking about how your hobby would look to an outsider – especially if that outsider might be armed.

A sensible reaction from the NZ police, or just more paranoia? Have you ever gone Geocaching? Let us know via the forums.
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