by sean i. mills Staff writer

An electronics engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory was arrested Tuesday afternoon for stealing a trinket from a GPS-based game of hide and seek.

Paul L. Repak, 58, of Lewis Road, Boonville, stole a small magnetic case from its hiding place on the Griffiss Park at about 4:15 p.m., according to Detective Commander Timothy J. Bates. The case was hidden as part of a game called "geocaching", where people hide small trinkets in their neighborhood and then other players use the Global Positioning System to follow the coordinates and find the trinkets.

The point of the game is then to either put the trinket back or replace it with something new for other players to find.

"When the geo-thief takes a cache container and does whatever it is he does with it, all the swag, log book, geo-coins and travel bugs are lost forever," said local geocacher Carole Darling, of Kent Street. "The game is ruined for other players."

Darling said she hid the magnetic case two days ago on public property near the new sculptures on Griffiss, and was driving by the site Tuesday when she saw that someone had found it. Darling parked nearby to speak with the person, but when she approached him, he took off running into a nearby wooded area, police said.

"If you’re a geocacher, you don’t run," Darling said. Suspicious of the man, Darling said she called police because geocachers in the area have had a problem for years with people stealing the trinkets.

"Someone had been going around taking the items, the trinkets," Det. Bates stated.

When police responded to the scene, Bates said Repak’s car was still there. The officers staked out the vehicle until Repak emerged from the woods, and he was arrested after he was found with the magnetic case.

Bates said Repak is charged with petty larceny and fifth-degree possession of stolen property. He was released after posting $100 cash bail, and is scheduled to appear in City Court.

Repak is an electrical engineer in the Cyber Operations Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, authorities said. Calls to the Air Force Public Affairs Office were not returned this morning.