Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fake bolts in road signs: Is it vandalism?

Geocacher welch has asked another good question for this blog. Citing a discussion thread in the forums, welch asks:

" is vandalism to have seekers take a bolt out of a sign... Like 'if they removed a sign bolt to replace with a fake one then it would be vandalism, but if they filled a hole that was already open it wouldn't be'...
What would be your reply to that thread? How about if the bolt hole theading was stripped out so the bolt could be pulled out (by hand), allowing the sign to swing away, and a cache was hidden underneath?
What about if the bolt was just a hollowed out and magnetized bolt head that onlystuck to a sign so it looked real, but was just 'hanging' there?"

In general, these sections of the guidelines apply to the questions about roadsign bolts:
"Caches that deface public or private property, whether a natural or man-made object, in order to provide a clue or a logging method." and... "For all cache types please be sensible when choosing your location for cache placement. Please be aware of what may be a perceived to a non-geocacher as dangerous or questionable behavior."

If a real bolt is removed to insert a cache disguised as a fake bolt, this would reduce the structural integrity of the sign's attachment to its mounting, so it would not be an approvable cache, IMHO. But even if a hole already exists in the sign and a fake bolt is inserted, I still don't like it. It's not good to have muggles and law enforcement see geocachers messing around with street signs. However, if the geocache owner makes a point of obtaining permission from the local police chief to place such a cache, and then states that permission in a note to the reviewer or on the cache page, this could result in the cache being approved, provided there aren't other circumstances that also need to be addressed.

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