Suspicious, photo-taking "Middle Eastern" men were visually impaired tourists

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Seems like a complete non-story to me. I’d think the police would be derelict in their duties if they weren’t at least curious about their actions.

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Is photography something suspicious? Should it be? What about assistive technologies that rely on it (like in this case)? What about using a zoom photo to read some sign in distance (which I sometimes do to save me walking)?


The racial profiling is disheartening, but not surprising. Still, I don’t begrudge the police their internal bulletin – it’s their job to note out-of-the-ordinary behaviour, and even by their own account the men were acting in a notable way. But I’d expect police files to be full of such bulletins which turned out to be inconsequential.

The problem is this one got leaked – by whom? – published, and generated a rather embarrassing amount of hysteria. It’s a great example of how crucial it is to put information in context.

It could have just as easily been a news story about how phone cameras help the visually impaired, which would have been rather cool.


I’ve been detained (and released after being scolded) for taking photos in a public place in Canada, and that was before 9/11. The problem was I was doing too thorough a job (needed multiple shots as references for an art project). That seems to be what sets people off – when you’re taking photos of stuff they don’t consider postcard-worthy, and when you’re doing a thorough job of it.


Hardly just as easily. That would have required a features reporter knowing who they were or how to contact them - without letting them know that they were under surveillance in case terror, and having the inclination to write such a piece in the first place.


A reporter could have passed by and asked them. It happens.

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I also regularly take photographs of bridges, especially their undersides and substructures. Obviously unphotogenic, obviously suspicious.


Ah. Sorry. I assumed you were taking the police leak as the starting point.

That’s the most interesting thing of an entire city. The details of how things are joined, especially where the joint has to both carry very high load and handle thermal expansion and other kinds of movement, how they are worn after decades of exposure to elements…

Screw architecture, the surface visual appearance is rather uninteresting.


In the right circumstances, all of those things could be seen as suspicious, and worth a bit of further investigation.

No one locked up these people. No one violated their civil rights. In fact, no one had even had a chance to talk to them. As I said, this is a non-story.

As a geocacher, I’m aware that my actions can easily been seen as suspicious. In my 15 years at the hobby, I’ve drawn the attention of both police and security guards. I understand their concerns, and even carry with me some “Trail Cards” to hand out when necessary.


Too right mate!

They believe you? Suckers!


In the right circumstances the adversary would be likely to use a concealed camera. Not difficult, look at the aperture of the cellphone one.

The threshold for “suspicious” is way too low. Terrornoia, nothing else.


I was once looking for a cache in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. The security guard came over, and asked what I was doing. I told him I had been there earlier in the day, and that I thought I lost my sunglasses when I was getting in the car. He helped me look for my non-existent sunglasses for about 10 minutes. I went back the next week, and carried a clipboard with me. The (different) security guard completely ignore me while I located the cache. A clipboard or an orange safety vest can make you almost invisible.


Ages ago there was a case of somebody stealing cameras from local subway. He came in, wearing work clothes and carrying a ladder, climbed to the camera, disconnected it, carried it away. Nobody remembered anything but “some worker”.

Seems to work for all kinds of uniforms that fit the settings.


At my old work someone got hold of a lab coat, walked past the security guards and started wandering around site until a colleague questioned him and he left.

He went around the corner to our other site, my colleague followed him. He went on site there, came back a few minutes later carry a load of laptops he’d stolen. To be met by a security guard waiting for him.





Hell yes :sunglasses:

I prefer a casual but well cut suit when sneaking around. Cargo shorts are also a useful disguise. A hoody is a red flag, a peacoat is not.

Never use my advice for evil :smiley:


I’m doing something suspicious right now.


It can also be increasingly difficult to tell the difference between someone photographing a building and someone taking a selfie. Which can occur with staggering frequency. As for the bulletin leak, it’s not clear who they were speaking to at the VPD was aware they were going to run the story, and more than likely they were talking to the wrong person. The VPD ran three press releases throughout the investigation, each one downplaying the incident; they never ran the photos and did not want to run the photos. Vancitybuzz, however, is often overly eager to be ‘first to publish’, and so the ethics discussions that may normally occur in a mainstream newsroom got trumped by the publish button here.


You and Bowie both.