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The Next Rant… Property owners and their concerns

October 16, 2012

There is a lot of interesting reading to be done on the subject of geocaches on private land.  In my research I witnessed some very ignorant and rude attitudes by cachers.

Let’s start by trying to see the issue using the eyes of the landowner.  To start with, let’s try to empathize with these people… A landowner sees a group, or a single person loitering on his land or the perimeter of it, and is curious and concerned as to why they might be there. He has never heard of geocaching before and to him he simply sees people trespassing or damaging his land. Let us not forget that landowners are sued everyday by members of the public who came to some form of  harm on their property. (whether or not they had permission to be there seems to be irrelevant).  Trying to rest the landowners fears by explaining the sport to him may not be helpful here, you are still trespassing on his land, and that is all he is ever going to see.  Should any cacher get caught by a landowner and told to get off their land, they should leave immediately , no questions asked , and apologize, even if it is not their cache.  If it is at all possible to take the cache container with them when leaving the owners property, they should do so, and report immediately to groundspeak that the cache listing needs to be archived.

I have read complaints from cachers on forums and blogs where they are protesting the landowners claim on the property or groundspeaks archiving of their cache.  Really??!!  Does it matter if it was outside the landowners fence?  Does it matter that it was 3 feet off a public trail?  it IS still part of his property (or what he feels is his property) and being ignorant about it won’t  help matters any.  These landowners are deserving of an apology, not an argument. Even if  your cache is on public property if it is causing distress for a landowner just being there, it should be archived immediately. Imagine how you would feel if strangers kept snooping around your back fence on a regular basis. I can tell you that if I was not a geocacher, I would be immediately be putting up no trespassing signs and calling the police on a regular basis. This would be done regardless of whether I do, or do not own the land past my fence line. I do not want people closely examining my fence or loitering near it. I have the right to privacy. and strangers staring into my backyard on a regular basis is certainly a violation of this right.

So why the ignorant attitude from some cachers?  Can’t anyone sympathize with these people? Why are you trying to fight the removal of your cache when there are only about a million places you could have hid one where there would be no property owner complaints?

If we are to continue our game,  land and property owner concerns are to be respected not argued. Just because a piece of land has public access it does not mean it is not privately owned.  An owner has the right to decide what his property can be used for and what it can’t. All geocaches that are placed in close proximity of private properties should include warnings not to step on private land in the description, and exactly where the boundaries are.

Let us not forget the latest story of property owner rage concerning geocaching,    This incident may not have been preventable, but it should prove as a valuable lesson for anyone thinking of placing a geocache near private property.

One of the problems facing our sport is that it is growing at an incredible rate, everyday more and more people get involved. Just because a cache stood for several years with no complaint before does not mean it should not be archived when a property owner finally figures out what people have been doing on his land.

I find that most of the cache owners doing the whining about their caches getting archived were ignorant to begin with. Did you bother to check out anything about the property you wanted to use? Did you simply find an area with no caches and decided to place one there? Chances are, you did not check out or research anything… and now you’re mad someone is ruining your game?  Where is your sense of respect for landowners in all of this?  |f only you had knocked on a door to the nearest landowner in the vicinity you might have avoided all of this. (even if they don’t own the land they might know who does). Permission to place your cache might even have been granted by some of these land owners if they knew what was going on.  Most people are reasonable, and they may even have seen it as a compliment if explained well enough.

Now, I have been confronted by members of the public while geocaching to ask me what I was doing in an area. (apparently I am not as stealthy as I think I am) .  I always respond with a smile, and an explanation that of the sport I hope they will understand.  I will answer all questions and concerns they have politely.  Sometimes I even offer to include them in my hunt to rest their fears. I will not ever fib to these people, or ignore them and walk away. Some muggles are intrigued by the idea, others respond with “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” either way, I have educated another member of the public, which can be only be good for all of us.

So if you are out caching, please be aware of your surroundings. Think for a few minutes about how what we are doing must appear to someone who has never heard of geocaching before.  If you notice someone watching you intently, you might want to think about stopping for a minute to talk to these people.  Bomb scares are a very real consequence of  what we call a sport.   It could be that just a little friendly banter with some of these people might save taxpayers thousands of dollars in the paranoid blowing up of innocent tupperware. Let’s try to keep our sport muggle and landowner friendly whenever possible. Please be friendly and polite when explaining things, remember you are an ambassador of this game, and what people think of us as geocachers and the sport itself is entirely up to you and the way you present yourself.   (If you find yourself on the wrong end of a pitchfork one day, diplomacy and manners are going to come in real handy)

  1. Interesting take that unfortunately gives many ignorant people simply too much credit. I hope reading this will make a few normal cachers take that bit of extra time and put in the prep work. Unfortunately, I believe idiots will remain idiots and continue to remain inside their own selfish world. The upside is that every sport and joint has their own share.

    Good blog – thanks.

  2. excellent post. i want to thank you for this informative read, i really appreciate sharing this great post. keep up your work.

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