Hiding Things In Public Places
September 19, 2011 10:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for creative places to hide things in public spaces. Probably a good question for scavenger hunt and geocache junkies.

I'm going to be running a sort of scavenger/treasure hunt soon around a major metropolitan area, and would love tips and ideas on places to hide stuff that only people who are actively seeking these items will most likely find.

The object itself will be a small box around 5"x3"x2". (most guides on hiding things in open spaces are for items no bigger than 35mm film canister).

I'm hoping to put these in a wide variety of spaces - parks, near buildings, inside business, etc. Anywhere the general public could possibly access. But place only those looking might end up finding.
posted by Unsomnambulist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Which major metro you're talking about is going to make quite a difference here, as the public works crews and mentality in different cities can vary pretty drastically. I spent one summer in London and was frequently woken just after dawn by the noise of a city employee manually sweeping the sidewalk. Which explains why it was so damned clean. But my current city just isn't going to pay for that.

So before we start making suggestions about what our own public works crew would probably miss, it would really help to know the city for which you're planning this.
posted by valkyryn at 10:40 AM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: Velcro them to the underside or back of things like maildrops, dumpsters, gas meters, etc. Also, camouflage is your friend -- if you put a label on them so they look official people who don't know what they are will screw with them -- if they see them -- even less.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:46 AM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: That is fairly large, but I've seen a few geocaches that size.

One of the best was a tennis ball tube camouflaged to look like part of a picnic table. The table frame was made from metal tubing, and the can was wrapped in duct tape and painted to match. Magnets inside the tube held it in place under the table, attached to the metal tubing. Unless you were looking for it, you'd never notice it.

I've also seen one that was a little smaller than what you are looking for, but it was a box attached inside a newspaper box to the underside of the top (if that makes sense). Unless you are rather short, you aren't going to see the top of the inside of the box, so that works well.

Inside a business, you'd obviously need their permission, and likely their help; but a lunch box at a deli, a binder at copy shop, etc. would work.

As you said, googling for hiding geocaches in plain sight should be helpful.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: At the base of many lamp posts are metal "skirts" that" can be lifted to stash something underneath. Metal guardrails have a sizable hiding place at either end, where they loop back on themselves.
posted by Morrigan at 10:54 AM on September 19, 2011

Response by poster: Valkryn: I'm in brainstorming mode, so not worried about excluding any particular spots at the moment.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 10:55 AM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: One suggestion I've read in several sources: most people don't pay a lot of attention UPWARDS. Can you hide things in trees or something else above normal eye range?
posted by easily confused at 10:58 AM on September 19, 2011

posted by hal_c_on at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: Could a bus station locker work for you?
posted by magstheaxe at 11:26 AM on September 19, 2011

Response by poster: A bus station locker may very well work, then hiding the key elsewhere.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 11:59 AM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: Last fall we did a city wide scavenger hunt that had fairly large clues - enough 8.5x11 sheets for 20 teams of 6. The trick was to hide in plain sight - coffee cans in the shadows of an automotive garage, stacked among their other cans. Inside a styrofoam take out box near the dumpsters at a mall. In a Tupperware container near picnic tables. In one of those plastic containers that diaper wipes come in, near a playground. Inside a tennis ball container near the tennis courts. Sadly, if you make it look like trash (and it's not near trash day), people will ignore it and assume it's (fairly large) litter.

Here's a tip we learned from the planners - have the mid-point clue be something where they have to return to you with something. Like if your last clue is found at the dog park, make them bring you a dog toy (purchased - for future shelter donation). It gives you (or your proxy) a good way to gauge the speed with which teams are progressing.

Also, as a geocacher - magnets are your friend. Up under the curve of guardrails, stuck to the back of a dumpster, under picnic tables or benches to the metal framework.
posted by librarianamy at 12:32 PM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: Be careful to avoid the tempatation of making containers out of PVC pipe: it looks WAAAY too much like a bomb.

Check out the 97-page (!!!) geocaching.com discussion thread titled "Cool Cache Containers" here: http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=62421

Or the flickr Group called "geoCCC - Geocaching Cool Cache Containers" here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/geoccc/

Doing this with reasonbly big containers in town is hard: I mostly hide nano caches downtown, as anything bigger gets stolen or destroyed by City grounds crews or bums.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:32 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The rule of thumb is to consider what normal sightlines will show, and then start working in everything else.

For example, most people look at a park bench and see the surfaces where you sit...but a hider would look under the seat, or between the slats. Or on a stop sign most people ignore the channel inside the post, up behind the face of the sign (which, I admit, is really, really small). Or what about the back side of something where you can only see it from one angle? Or just above/below the places where a viewer's eye is attracted?

Think of your vision as a bright light shining on an object, and then look in the shadows.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:36 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Label your containers! Something small and simple that says something like "this container is a marker for a scavenger hunt type game - it was placed on (date) and will be removed on (date) - please do not disturb - if you have any questions please call ###-###-####. This won't absolutely prevent people from freaking the hell out, but it can help.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:36 PM on September 19, 2011

The most difficult geocashe (aside from the ones moved slightly off of their coords) I've found was a band aid sized canister wired to a fence in plain sight!
posted by Jayed at 11:52 PM on September 19, 2011

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