Friday, January 20, 2006

Bomb or Booty: Geocaching gets blown out of proportion

The GPS/internet treasure hunt sport of geocaching lets cachers look up coordinates of hidden spots on the Web, then rove over hill and dale until they find them. At the end, there is usually a small box or bucket or something like that where a cacher can leave a trinket and take a trinket. Usually it's small stuff like a toy car or an airline-sized bottle of tequila.

Sounds harmless enough, right?

The Department of Homeland Security doesn't think so. Cache buckets stuck under bridges, or near power lines, or around airports have a nasty tendency to look like bombs. Several times the bomb squad had been brought in.

I suppose enough little bottles of tequila could make for a pretty good explosion under the right circumstances.

Geocachers are advising one another to not place any new caches where they might cause "public harm or alarm."

I can't help but be reminded of how Hash House Harriers were similarly targeted after the anthrax scares in 2001. Harriers are basically groups of grown-ups that play a game of chase through neighborhoods. One runner gets a head start and leaves a trail of flour for the others to follow.
Try explaining to the police why you're spreading white powder around the city.
You can see why there might have been some misunderstandings.

So far though, both the Colorado Springs hashers, and the local geocachers have avoided police actions.


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