...A Cautionary Tale.
A couple of weeks ago I had an appointment in downtown Vancouver. As I often do, I arrived a couple of hours early with the intent of tracking down some caches. I rarely make trips downtown specifically to geocache, so I like to grab some caches whenever I do have another reason to be there. My area of interest that day was Stanley Park, in the vicinity of the Aquarium. I had parked in the lot between the totem poles and Brockton Oval, overlooking the harbour and First Narrows. I walked over to my first cache, hidden along a short trail between the big Brockton Oval lot and Lumberman's Arch. While I searched, I noticed a Vancouver Aquarium truck parked nearby. I paid it little heed, lunch, smoke break, whatever. After finding, signing and rehiding the cache I continued along the trail towards Lumberman's Arch with another cache in mind. As I walked, I passed two Vancouver Aquarium security guards going the other way. Hmm. Nearing the end of the trail I could see the Vancouver Aquarium truck parked at that end now. Odd. Wandering back along the trail I encountered the same two security guards, standing on each side of the trail trying to look nonchalant, looking at the leaves or their shoes. I was starting to get a bit weirded out now. "You guys lose a fish, or something?" Not, perhaps, an appropriate comment. I decided to geocache someplace else and continued back towards my car but decided to use the facilities at Brockton before I carried on. Unfortunately, the facilities were closed. As I turned to head back to the car I saw one of the security guards at the entrance of the trail I had come out of! Definitely feeling unwelcome now, I returned to the car and, as I approached the exit, there was the guard at the top of the hill. I gave him barely a glance as I passed but, in my rearview mirror, as soon as I was past, I saw him reach for his radio. Fine, I'm leaving. Anyways, a few caches later, I'm back downtown at the reception desk when my phone rings.
"Hello, is this <insert my name here>?"
"Yes, it is."
"This is Constable <insert Constable's name here> with the Vancouver Police. Were you driving your black <insert car here>, license plate <insert license plate> in Stanley Park about an hour ago?"
"Yes, I was."
"May I ask what you were doing there?"
"I was Geocaching!"
So I explained Geocaching to the officer, suggested that if she asked around in her office she would find someone involved in the game and gave her the website for Geocaching.com so she could look into it further.
"Are there many people doing this?"
"Eight or nine million, I think."
When I asked if this had something to do with those security guards I had seen she explained that the area sees a lot of car break-ins and they had seen me in and out of the bushes, thought my behavior suspicious, and had called 911. The constable thanked me for my time, and hoped I would have a nice day.
At first, I was mildly offended that I should be considered suspicious. On the other hand, it's comforting to know someone is alert to possible criminal activity in the area. Then I began to think I could have handled the situation differently. Perhaps, I should have approached the guards and explained to them what I was doing? I would like to think that is how I would react to the situation next time.