22 Aug 2014
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Northbrook Unearths Ilegal Geocache in Sewer

Village officials cite safety and legal concerns over a geocache that was hidden in Northbrook's sewage system. Seekers were walking at least a quarter of a mile through the storm sewer to get to the cache.

Northbrook Unearths Ilegal Geocache in Sewer

Village Manager Rich Nahrstadt called it an "evolving problem in Northbrook." He was referring to a geocache discovered by Village officials in a storm sewer. 

Geocaching is an international treasure hunting game during which map coordinates of hidden items are shared on  Geocaching websites. Players use a GPS device to seek these items for collection or just log their findings.

At Tuesday's Village Board meeting, Kelly Hamill, director of public works and engineering, revealed the geocache his department found after receiving an email from someone asking permission to enter the sewer in search of the small treasure. 

The cache, which Kelly displayed to the board, contained a gold medal and a whistle,  according to the Northbrook Star.

"All geocaches are supposed to have the owner's permission to put them on private property, we didn't give permission for anybody to enter our storm sewer to put this geocache in there," Kelly said. 

"Of course we see this being a hazard," he added. According to Kelly, people could get stuck in the event of flooding. He also cited air quality issues in the confined space of a sewer.

"In this case, people had traversed about a quarter mile to a half a mile, depending on where they entered our storm sewer, to find this geocache," Kelly said. "They were basically going in outfall pipes to get in the storm sewer, we don't believe they were popping manhole lids to get in there."

He said the Village has notified the geocaching website of their concerns, "also telling them that we believe this is trespassing." 

"There's believed to be roughtly 100 active [geocaches] in Northbrook, much to our surprise," Kelly added.

He said public works has since secured all the entrance sites to this particular storm sewer and began reviewing other, potentially dangerous geocaching sites. 

"It is an interesting pastime and hobby, and we're not [condeming] the hobby of it. But putting them in places which could jeopardize people's health and safety is a concern of ours," Kelly said.

"I've known about it for years," Village President Sandy Frum said. "They're all over the place."

"She's a geocaching hunter, right?" Board Trustee Katheryn Ciesla joked, looking at Frum.

"Yeah," Frum replied.

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