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Clever Urban or Inappropriate
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Paklid
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 09 May 2004

Posts: 656
Location: Eagan

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:20 pm    Post subject: Clever Urban or Inappropriate Reply with quote

I was asked by a fellow cacher if I've done any mailbox caches. When I asked what that was, he said, "you know, caches stuck to the bottom side of a U.S. Postal Service mailbox".

Well, I haven't seen any of these and I'm not sure I would make a find on one if I did run across a cache where it was obvious that the container was on a mailbox. I'm not sure it's even legal to do. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there was specific laws or regulations that prohibit attaching things to mailboxes (don't know about that for sure though).

It did get me thinking about just how far we can and more importantly SHOULD go. I understand that some people like to provide caches that test a cacher's ability to sneakily do a container retrieve in full view of passers-by (I have one of those in the corner of a neighborhood park).

I don't like poking around "little kid" playground equipment (I'm very conscious that people seeing me would be quite suspicious of my motives).
Lamp skirt hides aren't fun and also make me hyper aware that someone watching me might very well think I was up to something very nasty.
Anything on an electrical junction box or control panel (flat magnets, fake outlets, fake conduits) all are probably seen as incredibly clever the first few times you see them. If I search for a "container" on one of these electrical service pieces of equipment (if the thing is in full view of passers-by) would similarly make me feel like a witness might take me for a terrorist. I've done caches on these things where I felt that nobody would witness anything and I didn't feel uncomfortable beyond any worry of my own personal safety playing around something I really should be leaving alone.

Anyway, in characteristic long windedness, I was wondering how others felt about playing our game using these kind of things (mailboxes, playground equipment, telephone booths, electrical panels and junction boxes, under roadway bridges, etc). It seems to me that even in urban settings, some things should not be used as cover for our containers because they seem to be too easily identifiable as targets of terrorism (or in the case of playground equipment - targets of sick minds of a different sort)

Maybe I just prefer skulking about where nobody can see me or could worry about what I was up to.
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pfalstad
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Feb 2006

Posts: 1009
Location: Edina

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Clever Urban or Inappropriate Reply with quote

My guess is that mailbox hides are illegal, but as a finder I don't really care. I also don't worry about being taken for a terrorist at electrical panels or lampskirts.. Just worry that I might compromise the cache or look like an idiot if there are people around. Telephone booths seem perfectly fine, you just go in the telephone booth and act like you're on the phone. Not wild about playground equipment though.
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herrwald
Geocacher


Joined: 12 May 2004

Posts: 27
Location: Brooklyn Park, MN

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Paklid. I've found three caches hidden on the bottom of mailboxes, the last one just this past Sunday. I always feel like the feds are going to be on me the minute I reach underneath to replace the thing. It seems to me that mailboxes are private property.
The same goes for electrical enclosures, even though they may be on public land or park land.
I also think that the owner of the equipment (electric company or park maintenance) may be alarmed to find something they are not quite sure belongs stuck to the side of boxes.
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Paklid
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 09 May 2004

Posts: 656
Location: Eagan

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first time a cacher gets charged (monetarily) for the dispatching of the bomb squad to "disarm" a mailbox cache, I would expect the brilliance of sticking something with velcro or a magnet to the box's underbelly would lose some luster.

I think I prefer the old standby pine cone camo in a pine tree to the terror suspect caches. And no, I don't relish trying to find the pine cone that doesn't belong.....
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AerosmithPA
MnGCA President


Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 1044
Location: Grand Rapids

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find no enjoyment from lamp skirts.

If I need to search on playground equipment, I bring my youngest along so we can 'play' and look normal (as normal as we can look anyway). I don't know what I'll do when he gets bigger. I will not place caches near playground equipment.

I'm uncomfortable searching around mailboxes. I would hope another mailbox cache is never placed.

Not a big fan of electrical boxes, especially in heavily populated areas. The fear is that someone who does not know electricity will open up a real box.

I can do without cemetary caches also. WITH THAT SAID, however, one of my all time favorite caches is "Moonlight" Field of Dreams (GCN0Z2), which led me to the resting place of a character in my all time favorite movie. After completing this one, I now believe cemetary caches can be done respectfully. Will always steer away from funerals and people visiting loved ones, of course.
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LucidOndine
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 17 Jan 2006

Posts: 1931
Location: Under Some Rock

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On our way back from MOGA last year we realized that one of the caches on AA's list was in a playground. We were on fire, having found many already in that city. We weren't about to let the playground stop us, so we all went on an assault of the giant playground equipment (Myself, Gilby, Red, Kurt Franke, Cream, and I think Esko & DLH were there, too). I find that if you're going to do something that looks less than credible, doing it in a large group seems to validate your activity, at least to those who are watching.

All in all, if a finder feels that they are uncomfortable looking, its always up to them to stop. Sometimes its worth a log to the owner in the form of a note.

"Came, didn't attempt. Not my kind of cache, thanks."
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KC0GRN
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 22 Feb 2004

Posts: 1424

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMHO Lampskirts aren't desirable. But if the purpose is to get you to visit some nearby place that is interesting (not wally world or anything mind you), I'd rather have a simple park and grab where I don't have to get horribly self conscious about searching an area.

I have a lamp post hide myself, I have no shame I guess. But the idea at this one is to be able to see folks find it, I guess it brightens my day at work from time to time. I make no promises of a grand find and people are fairly warned on the cache page.

Playground equipment really is a nono on many levels. I know I've never been comfortable searching those when there is any hint of another person in the area. It's also a place where kids play, pretty much anything you can hide on a play structure stands a very good chance of being found by a kid. The entire situation is practically lose lose.

Mailbox hides, yes, I've heard of the illegality issue. However, in all my journeys, I have only run across them twice, and I don't even remember one of them being in the state.

I'm also not fond of limiting hiders creativity, but obviously, to be creative, you probably wouldn't want to do any of these hides as they've all been done before.

All that being said, most things have their place in the right circumstance. Sometimes the best cache in the world is an ammo box in a stump. Other times, it's a lamppost next to an incredible view.
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Grey Wolf and Wild Rice
Geocacher


Joined: 31 May 2005

Posts: 376
Location: White Bear Township

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gray haired guy lurking around a playground with an electronic toy and pockets full of kid's toys? Sounds like a free ride in a squad car.

That having been said......If you hide them, they'll seek them. Unfortunately geocaching has evolved into a numbers game for many and all the 'low hanging fruit' out there is too easy to pass up. Take a look at the number of finds on some of those lamp post hides and compare it to caches requiring a short 1/4 mile hike and it's easy to see which is more popular. People just won't take the time to do the walk to a cache when they can drive-up. We have become a drive-thru society.

After all, Micky D's didn't always have drive-thru's. Take a look at the long line outside vs. inside. The food is the same, but the long line is outside because we have become too lazy to get out of our vehicles.

The American public votes with their feet. Always has and always will.
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pfalstad
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Feb 2006

Posts: 1009
Location: Edina

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This seems ridiculous to me, but a geocache on a mailbox has been mistaken for a bomb at least once.. (Granted, it was in Texas)

http://www.crypticide.com/dropsafe/article/1927
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KC0GRN
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 22 Feb 2004

Posts: 1424

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno, I like a nice hike through a park to find one cache just fine myself. Heck, I once spent the better part of a day hiking through the cascades out in washington state just to end up DNFing a cache I didn't have time for. I had as much fun with that as I did with a day run for 60+ caches.

I also enjoy a park and grab after a discouraging afternoon of DNFing cache after cache.

In general, I enjoy a lot of different styles, it keeps the game interesting.
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Arcticabn
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2003

Posts: 1846
Location: Lakeville, MN

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Clever Urban or Inappropriate Reply with quote

Generally as most of you know I'll find almost anything that has been hidden for the most part. It doesn't necessarilly mean that I like the cache hide.

I understand that P&Gs have their place and that there are those that are less able that still enjoy the sport and a lamp skirt is just fine with them. None of us have to find it if we don't want to.

Yes I have done mail box caches in several states. And generally they were obvious as to where the cache was located. But I also agree that I don't necessarilly believe the belong there.

You said:
pfalstad wrote:
My guess is that mailbox hides are illegal, but as a finder I don't really care.


Well I guess that's true unless your the one arrested for placing it back on the box. The original hiden may not be the one caught, but the finder may be the one observed placing it.

Bottomline is that it is still up to each individual cacher both hiding and finding to use there own judgement as to when to walk away. And I also believe it is up to each of us to question hiders if we don't necessarilly agree with their hide. Sometimes it is when we think the cache is placed on private property without noted permission on the cache page.

On the other hand if there is a real issue or safety concern then contacting the local approval is still always an option. Not to be taken lightly.
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eagleyes
Geocacher


Joined: 03 Jun 2003

Posts: 743
Location: NE & E CENTRAL, MN

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh for gosh sake- that is why we couldn't find that cache last winter in Texas- it brought us right to a driveway and yes there was a mail box and we never thought of looking- and wouldn't have even if we have known.

Yes, as far as I know it is illegal to attach or hang anything from a USPS official box- now I am wondering if it is ok from a newspaper tube - anyway, we wouldn't do it- we agree with Paklid totally on his choices of not caches- and that goes back to our way of caching isn't about numbers.

There is one attached to the electrical boxes that control a race track posting screen off the parking lot in El Paso- no way.

Lamp skirts depend on how public- on a walkway between casinos in Laughlin NV ok but not in an open parking lot.

Also won't turn over piles of rock anymore.
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Last edited by eagleyes on Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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RubberToes
Geocacher


Joined: 13 Feb 2005

Posts: 222
Location: Apple Valley

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ran across a mailbox hide the other day. It was pretty obvious where it was, and no one was around, so I grabbed it quickly. I have heard from postal workers that it's a federal offense to be messing around with mail boxes -- especially the green relay boxes, which don't have a slot for customer use.

I dropped a note to the owner about the placement, but didn't every get a response.

I do like to keep my numbers up, but I have learned to walk away from any cache that makes me uncomfortable. This includes playground caches anytime kids around (6 a.m. is a good time to get these) and any cache where my presence or actions might make someone else uncomfortable about what I was doing.

My favorite part of caching is being outside in the early mornings listening to the sounds of nature.
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5690
Location: north of Duluth

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pfalstad wrote:
This seems ridiculous to me, but a geocache on a mailbox has been mistaken for a bomb at least once.. (Granted, it was in Texas)

http://www.crypticide.com/dropsafe/article/1927


Postal workers are trained to search for things like this, both on the street and in the sorting facilities. In Duluth we've had a couple of bomb scares in the past few years. This puts a serious wrench into the process, costing the USPS thousands of dollars for a small office like Duluth, not to mention the costs of support services (fire departments, police departments, bomb squads, etc).

I certainly wouldn't want to be the one putting a cache on a mailbox and have the Postal Inspectors and FBI coming after me. The fines for this are incredible I'm sure.

I would be leery to even be the finder on one. To find it means you have to remove it and then replace it? Would you like to be the one on some surveillance video replacing the cache?

I personally would encourage people to report these illegal caches to the appropriate reviewer or contact@geocaching.com.
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Surfer Joe
Minnesota Reviewer


Joined: 18 Jan 2006

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

USPS mailboxes are definitely off limits! I will not knowingly publish a cache that I know is on one. In my caching, I have come across a couple of them that slipped by and informed their owners that they needed to be removed ASAP.
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