[GeoStL] Geocaching in the news

  • From: Sarah Chisholm <crowesfeat30@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "geocaching@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <geocaching@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006 22:43:56 -0800 (PST)

My brother sent me this article he read about geocaching. He thought I would 
get a chuckle out of it. Maybe y'all will too.
9:57 a.m. January 12, 2006 
BOISE, Idaho ? Scot Tintsman says he never had any troubles with the law until 
his girlfriend introduced him to what became his all-consuming passion: the 
satellite-navigated treasure hunt called geocaching. 
  "She got me hooked," said the 33-year-old Idaho man, who faces criminal 
charges for hanging a green bucket beneath a concrete bridge on a major state 
highway last September. 
  His "cache" was placed for other players to find using handheld Global 
Positioning System units. But before he could even finish adding the requisite 
trinkets and log books to the cache and posting its GPS coordinates on the 
Internet, it was indeed discovered ? by a state bridge inspection crew. 
  That triggered a seven-hour road closure and emergency response from 
officials who feared a bomb had been rigged to the bridge. 
  Unaware of the alarm, Tintsman was returning to finish rigging his cache when 
he rounded a corner on his motorcycle and was confronted by a barricade of 
police cars and a bomb squad. He struggled to explain that it was all a 
  "I got off my bike and three officers approached me very cautiously, hands on 
their holsters," he said. "I was trying to turn off my MP3 player and I think 
they were worried I was going for a detonator." 
  Tintsman's case of cache confusion isn't isolated. In November, a suspicious 
box placed outside the Provo, Utah, police station was blasted by a bomb squad 
robot. It turned out to be a geocache containing a toy gun, holster and 
nightstick. Geocachers usually take a trinket from a cache and leave another 
  In June, a bomb squad in De Pere, Wis., used a robot-mounted shotgun to blast 
the lid off a suspicious-looking military ammunition box found in a park. It 
also turned out to be a geocache. 
  And on the night before the 2004 presidential election, police and the FBI 
spent hours questioning a man who was seen prowling along a chain-link fence at 
Los Angeles International Airport with a GPS unit. He was a geocacher from 
Vermont trying to stash a green-and-purple toy snake into a cache placed five 
weeks earlier that had already been visited by 463 people. 
  Guidelines on www.geocaching.com ? the most popular Web clearinghouse for 
registering geocache hides and finds ? advise players not to place caches near 
critical infrastructure or public buildings that might be terrorist targets. 
And with more than 1 million people worldwide estimated to participate in the 
sport, geocaching.com co-founder Bryan Roth of Seattle says the number of 
homeland security false-alarms is comparatively low. 
  "I dare say I have heard of no more than five or 10 incidents," said Roth, 
whose Web site currently lists more than 225,000 caches in 219 countries. 
"Police can always contact us and we'll tell them whether something is a 
registered geocache. And if they're still not comfortable with that, we tell 
them to blow it up. We don't want to be legally or, more importantly, morally 
liable if it indeed was a problem." 
  Many in the online community of geocachers fear that the sport could be 
banned from some areas because of the high-profile scares caused by ill-advised 
cache placements. A "Geocacher's Creed" has been posted on the Internet that 
asks participants to "avoid causing disruptions or public alarm." 
  Even when geocachers cause public alarm, criminal repercussions appear to be 
rare. In the case of Tintsman, whose geocache was attached high above the 
whitewater of Idaho's Payette River on the span of Rainbow Bridge, the local 
prosecutor filed a charge of placing debris on public property, a misdemeanor 
with a maximum punishment of six months in jail and a $300 fine. 
  "It's like littering," said Valley County Attorney Matthew Williams. "Any 
statute with intent wouldn't work, because he clearly didn't intend it to be a 
bomb, and any statute with malicious injury to property wouldn't work, because 
he didn't injure the bridge." 
  Williams said he is not seeking jail time for Tintsman, who has yet to appear 
before a judge. But he would like to get restitution for the expense of the law 
enforcement and public safety response. 
  "I by no means want to see people stop geocaching because I know people who 
enjoy hiking with their families to find these things," said Williams. "But 
this was an unnecessary drain on our emergency resources by someone who should 
have followed the rules of the sport." 
  Tintsman's attorney, Joe Filicetti of Boise, said he's hoping to reach a deal 
with Williams that doesn't involve criminal sanctions. Tintsman said he is 
still avidly geocaching ? but is now more aware of how the caches may appear in 
a post-Sept. 11 landscape. 
  "I wasn't thinking about terrorism when I placed it under the bridge. I was 
thinking about making the most extreme cache possible," he said. "I just got 
carried away." 


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