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View Full Version : Law enforcement encounter at COSTCO parking lot



Aviation.High.Guy
01-01-2013, 07:36 PM
On 12/23 I was capturing some great images at the Costco parking lot- aircraft short final for JFK RWY 31R. The moon had risen in the afternoon Northeast sky, so I was getting some "extra production value" for my efforts. Its was sunny, crisp and ripe for good picture taking. A fun day, right? After shooting for a little while outside of my parked car, I noticed a uniformed Nassau officer observing me from his unmarked cruiser. He finally stepped out and approached me. He asked what I was doing, where I came from, what I do with the photos. The expected questions, ya know. One sort of funny thing he threw at me was "I noticed that you photographed two consecutive JetBlue planes. Do you only shoot JetBlue?" First time I was ever asked that. It's not like we can control the sequence so, not sure what law enforcement could learn from that question. Anyway, the officer warmed up to me once he realized I was no threat. He let me in on the fact that this concerned citizen "George C." had reported me by 911. Whoa. That kind of spooked me and now I'm a little reluctant to go back to that spot. I know there's no rational reason why I shouldn't, but I guess it's just that now I associate that place with the hassle of being reported to the police. Anyone else have an experience like this at the parking lot?

eric8669
01-01-2013, 07:45 PM
this is nothing new. For several years we sorta abandoned the Costco Lot, but in the recent year we have migrated back to that location. Its inevitable whatever location you might be shooting from that some "concerned" citizen will call the police. Though I have noticed police encounters have been a little less frequent. Don't hesitate to go back there. Your not doing anything wrong.

Aviation.High.Guy
01-01-2013, 07:59 PM
Thanks man.


this is nothing new. For several years we sorta abandoned the Costco Lot, but in the recent year we have migrated back to that location. Its inevitable whatever location you might be shooting from that some "concerned" citizen will call the police. Though I have noticed police encounters have been a little less frequent. Don't hesitate to go back there. Your not doing anything wrong.

yankees368
01-01-2013, 08:04 PM
The only thing is that if a Costco employee or manager asks you to leave, you must do so. It is private property. Other than that, you are good!

Cary
01-01-2013, 08:16 PM
The officer was just concerned that you were photographing two B6s in a row :tongue:

In parking lots like Costco, I usually like to just hang low in my car and shoot out the window (besides the fact that I am usually just exhausted after a long drive). The less people that see me, the less chance a paranoid "concerned citizen" sees me :)

eric8669
01-01-2013, 08:20 PM
The officer was just concerned that you were photographing two B6s in a row :tongue:

In parking lots like Costco, I usually like to just hang low in my car and shoot out the window (besides the fact that I am usually just exhausted after a long drive). The less people that see me, the less chance a paranoid "concerned citizen" sees me :)

Or we can just tell him how Senga does it.

Cary
01-01-2013, 08:21 PM
Or we can just tell him how Senga does it.

Cloaking device? :biggrin:

megatop412
01-01-2013, 09:27 PM
Nice handling of that situation, and I agree with what others have said, I usually try to keep a low profile myself. I got my start at the Costco lot, glad you got some nice shots! Odd question about the 2 B6's in a row, sounds like he was just fishing for info

Aviation.High.Guy
01-02-2013, 02:06 AM
Thanks Mega. When I get to know some folks from the site I would like to meet up for some spotting. I've been planespotting since childhood .LGA and JFK had great observation decks. My first off-airport site was under and around the approach lights to JFK 22L we would ride our bikes down there as kids in the late 70s. Shot Kodachrome and 8mm movies. One time we did a little digging around by the approach lights and found aluminum relics from the 1970s EAL flight 66 crash of a 727 from windshear. Still have some small pieces with the famous EAL Blue and Teal colors. Got back into the hobby in my 40s. With more photography experience under my belt and a rediscovered interest.



Nice handling of that situation, and I agree with what others have said, I usually try to keep a low profile myself. I got my start at the Costco lot, glad you got some nice shots! Odd question about the 2 B6's in a row, sounds like he was just fishing for info

gonzalu
01-02-2013, 08:33 AM
Nah, do what I do... put up a tent, a big sign that says "I am taking pictures of planes" and "Free Beer" and "Salty Nuts"

That will insure you go unnoticed!

Once I got into a seriously heated argument AT (inside) the Costco and spilled out onto the parking lot with a lot of choice words exchanged and lots of threats back and forth 9yes, I did NOT scale down the situation and was just as belligerent) and after 15 minutes or so, we finally split up and went our separate ways. I went back to spotting and he went back to being a penis...

NOT A SINGLE PERSON watching the incident, out of about 50, ever called the cops or was concerned for my safety or the safety of the other low cell count organism. I then spent about 20 minutes more spotting when an officer approached us for spotting as someone was "concerned for the planes"

What can I say, people's views of the world are skewed. THe "concerned citizen" is nothing more than Johnny Wannabe needing to stroke his ego that he will catch Osama Bin Laden in the act and be a hero.

"See Something, Say Something" is great but also heightens the desire of ordinary humans to be heroic and we all know how powerful a drug that can be in the right hands :smile:

As Cary said... STEALTH is the best medicine and smiling and interacting readily is also advisable... Enjoy the hobby.

Zee71
01-02-2013, 08:47 AM
Yeah.........I recall a few weeks ago a bunch of us were at Costco and some guy was shopping with his wife. As they were returning to their car which was parked a few cars down from us, took out his cell phone and took photo's of us I believe. Nothing transpired, and no cops ever arrived to question us. Then recently again while at Panera this time, some guy with his gal took pics of a couple of us with his cell phone as well (I saw him in the act, and waved (knowing he was another jerk without any guts to come over and ask .... why are you taking photos of planes). I would be more than enthusiastic to educate the individual and talk plane spotting. FYI - I did take a photo of his car :P

We shouldn't be detoured from taking photos and enjoying our hobby.

megatop412
01-02-2013, 09:07 AM
I would cause a massive auto crash on Rockaway Blvd by pulling an illegal u-turn to get into the Costco lot if I EVER saw a 'free beer' sign and a tent, so if you decide to do that Manny prepare for a guest:cool:

eric8669
01-02-2013, 09:10 AM
Manny, forgot to mention the fresh fish. :)

RWB
01-02-2013, 09:12 AM
One thing I started doing this year when asked for an ID by Airport Police was to ask for the report/case number, it raises some eyebrows but since I'm nice enough to have my rights violated for engaging in a perfectly legal activity, I'd like a record of it, and they have to provide it!. Plus the persons name who called will be on the report. And I suggest that maybe the dispatcher should start asking the caller if they know of an actual law that prohibits photography.

Personally I use high-profile technique, I'm standing in the bed of my truck, camera in hand, another on a tri-pod on the roof just for effect with the handheld scanner.

Cary
01-02-2013, 09:43 AM
One thing I started doing this year when asked for an ID by Airport Police was to ask for the report/case number, it raises some eyebrows but since I'm nice enough to have my rights violated for engaging in a perfectly legal activity, I'd like a record of it, and they have to provide it!. Plus the persons name who called will be on the report. And I suggest that maybe the dispatcher should start asking the caller if they know of an actual law that prohibits photography.

Personally I use high-profile technique, I'm standing in the bed of my truck, camera in hand, another on a tri-pod on the roof just for effect with the handheld scanner.

With the caveat, as others have stated, that Costco is a private lot, where spotters have been run off by Costco employees in the past. So, not a perfectly legal activity, unless you're Manny, and can do your Costco shopping while spotting at the same time :tongue:

gonzalu
01-02-2013, 10:11 AM
I have an official license to shot there :tongue:

yankees368
01-02-2013, 10:37 AM
Does it count double is I actually purchased my camera at that Costco??

PhilDernerJr
01-02-2013, 05:44 PM
One thing I started doing this year when asked for an ID by Airport Police was to ask for the report/case number, it raises some eyebrows but since I'm nice enough to have my rights violated for engaging in a perfectly legal activity, I'd like a record of it, and they have to provide it!. Plus the persons name who called will be on the report. And I suggest that maybe the dispatcher should start asking the caller if they know of an actual law that prohibits photography.

I don't see what asking for a case number accomplishes. And what rights exactly are tehy violating? I don't see a cop walking up to us and having a friendly conversation and asking a few questnos as being a big deal. In fact, as I've always said, I'd be worried if cops never showed up.

We ae lucky enough to employ private property for the hobby, and I think anything like that at a place like Costco would likely cause trouble and possibly end the location for us.

Delta777LR
01-02-2013, 07:35 PM
Nah, do what I do... put up a tent, a big sign that says "I am taking pictures of planes" and "Free Beer" and "Salty Nuts"

That will insure you go unnoticed!

Once I got into a seriously heated argument AT (inside) the Costco and spilled out onto the parking lot with a lot of choice words exchanged and lots of threats back and forth 9yes, I did NOT scale down the situation and was just as belligerent) and after 15 minutes or so, we finally split up and went our separate ways. I went back to spotting and he went back to being a penis...

NOT A SINGLE PERSON watching the incident, out of about 50, ever called the cops or was concerned for my safety or the safety of the other low cell count organism. I then spent about 20 minutes more spotting when an officer approached us for spotting as someone was "concerned for the planes"

What can I say, people's views of the world are skewed. THe "concerned citizen" is nothing more than Johnny Wannabe needing to stroke his ego that he will catch Osama Bin Laden in the act and be a hero.

"See Something, Say Something" is great but also heightens the desire of ordinary humans to be heroic and we all know how powerful a drug that can be in the right hands :smile:

As Cary said... STEALTH is the best medicine and smiling and interacting readily is also advisable... Enjoy the hobby.

you should have seen what Nick V and i went through a couple of years back by Boston Market right by Costco. Nick V, Jacob Salima and I were out there that day to catch an Aeromexico 777. Some guy with his wife circled around us for awhile until he block us from leaving and wanted to report us taking pictures of the planes. Thats the one day i will never forget. That dude went too far.

Delta777LR
01-02-2013, 07:38 PM
Thats also why I have problem trying to find a spot to catch rwy31R action, since I have no car, I would be hassled more often because I can be just standing there shooting and I get called in quicker Things for me r worse so I gotta find some place to go try to shoot.

RWB
01-02-2013, 08:04 PM
The reason I started asking for the number was everytime they run my ID it puts a little red flag by my name, I know this to be true because one Officer was nice enough to point it out on his computer display after asking if I had a lot of tickets, which I have none. I understand the whole private property issue and every owner or manager is aware or our activities and welcomes us, when an "Airport Police" officer leaves the boundary or the airport, their powers and authorities end, per city rules! That's just the way it is here in SA because they did not want to join the Park Police and become one department w/SAPD. So when they roll up with lights on, onto a private parking lot where I have full permission to be and order me out of my truck and demand an ID, there's a little problem there, I have every right to be there and engage in a perfectly legal activity. Same goes for some of the public sidewalks that border the perimeter fence.

I don't want to start a big debate on here but that's I feel, I've gone from being threatened with arrest back in 2006 to just a friendly wave as they pass by this last year due to learning the REAL rules and regulations and I think most of the Officers I have talked with respect that, it's just the 2 times this year where a newer Officer got all gung-ho and thought they bagged the next terrorist. I think questioning those Officers tactics and legality of those actions thru "proper channels" led to an official area recognized on the airports website this year.

To me the ID thing is like the random DWI check points, I'm just trying to go home after work I shouldn't be stopped for know reason. I know DWI is a major problem done here but subjecting everyone to random searches is heading in a dangerous direction. I hear the opposite side of it too, If you have nothing to hide, what's the problem? My response is always 'If I was a FBI agent or someone similar would you mind me looking through your house, just to make sure everythings legal? You got nothing to hide , right?"

jerslice
01-02-2013, 09:12 PM
As they were returning to their car which was parked a few cars down from us, took out his cell phone and took photo's of us I believe. Nothing transpired, and no cops ever arrived to question us. Then recently again while at Panera this time, some guy with his gal took pics of a couple of us with his cell phone as well (I saw him in the act, and waved (knowing he was another jerk without any guts to come over and ask .... why are you taking photos of planes).

I hate it when people do that to me. It's never happened at the spotter locations in Seattle...but has happened a few times in the terminals. Someone once went out of their way to come over and take a photo of me gate spotting at Ohare...I asked them what they were taking a photo of and the guy just sort of sulked off.

PhilDernerJr
01-02-2013, 09:27 PM
The reason I started asking for the number was everytime they run my ID it puts a little red flag by my name, I know this to be true because one Officer was nice enough to point it out on his computer display after asking if I had a lot of tickets, which I have none. I understand the whole private property issue and every owner or manager is aware or our activities and welcomes us, when an "Airport Police" officer leaves the boundary or the airport, their powers and authorities end, per city rules!

I guess I can't comment on San Antonio, because here in NYC, the "Airport Police" are not guards, but Port Authority Police under STATE jurisdiction, so they can pursue off of airport property.


That's just the way it is here in SA because they did not want to join the Park Police and become one department w/SAPD. So when they roll up with lights on, onto a private parking lot where I have full permission to be and order me out of my truck and demand an ID, there's a little problem there, I have every right to be there and engage in a perfectly legal activity. Same goes for some of the public sidewalks that border the perimeter fence.

I would take issue with that, too. At JFK, El Al security tries to boss peopel around as if they have ANY authority. I've heard many stories but have never had the luck to encounter them.


I don't want to start a big debate on here but that's I feel, I've gone from being threatened with arrest back in 2006 to just a friendly wave as they pass by this last year due to learning the REAL rules and regulations and I think most of the Officers I have talked with respect that, it's just the 2 times this year where a newer Officer got all gung-ho and thought they bagged the next terrorist. I think questioning those Officers tactics and legality of those actions thru "proper channels" led to an official area recognized on the airports website this year.

To me the ID thing is like the random DWI check points, I'm just trying to go home after work I shouldn't be stopped for know reason. I know DWI is a major problem done here but subjecting everyone to random searches is heading in a dangerous direction. I hear the opposite side of it too, If you have nothing to hide, what's the problem? My response is always 'If I was a FBI agent or someone similar would you mind me looking through your house, just to make sure everythings legal? You got nothing to hide , right?"

I've been on all sides of encounters, from friendly waves, high fives, to benig detained for hours with equipment confiscated, so it's all good.

RWB
01-02-2013, 10:41 PM
it's all good.
It is! Nothing worthwhile is easy and it will get better!

disco stu
01-04-2013, 06:07 PM
He let me in on the fact that this concerned citizen "George C." had reported me by 911. Whoa. That kind of spooked me and now I'm a little reluctant to go back to that spot.

I had a neighbor a while back here in LAS that was a cop in the sub-station that covered the area around Mc Carran Airport. We used to hang out periodically and discuss our nerdy hobbies.There's an office park across the street from the threshold of the 25's, and sometimes spotters will park in their parking lot to partake in our little hobby. My neighbor told me that from time to time, he will get a call about a spotter(s) "suspicious activity" in the parking lot, but after talking to the "suspect", he knew they were harmless and they were just spotting so he would let them be and move on, but if someone makes a call on a spotter, the police are obligated to follow up on it. I guess it's the same old story that in any profession, you have some people that can be (expletive deleted) and on the other end of the spectrum people like my neighbor that can be cool about things.

Aviation.High.Guy
01-12-2013, 10:44 AM
In NY I would be afraid to ask for a case/report number, although you are completely right and I should. There's always the possibility (however remote it may be) that you
meet up with that one "bad cop". The guy that makes your life real miserable, either within the law or outside of the law. It just ain't worth it.




One thing I started doing this year when asked for an ID by Airport Police was to ask for the report/case number, it raises some eyebrows but since I'm nice enough to have my rights violated for engaging in a perfectly legal activity, I'd like a record of it, and they have to provide it!. Plus the persons name who called will be on the report. And I suggest that maybe the dispatcher should start asking the caller if they know of an actual law that prohibits photography.

Personally I use high-profile technique, I'm standing in the bed of my truck, camera in hand, another on a tri-pod on the roof just for effect with the handheld scanner.

Aviation.High.Guy
01-12-2013, 10:54 AM
My kids love going planespotting with me. (I'm milking it because I know that will change when they become teens.)
Anyway, I made a new biz card specifically for handing over to authorities. There's a pic on it of a 73 passing over my elated
daughter's head at ILS 22L. I'm hoping the image will go a long way disarming law encounters. :tongue:

kc2aqg
01-18-2013, 01:39 PM
Anyway, I made a new biz card specifically for handing over to authorities. There's a pic on it of a 73 passing over my elated
daughter's head at ILS 22L. I'm hoping the image will go a long way disarming law encounters. :tongue:

Don - that is awesome, and goes a long way towards proving Nick's theory about how having a kid with you while spotting makes you legit LOL :biggrin:

Gerard
01-20-2013, 02:30 PM
Don - that is awesome, and goes a long way towards proving Nick's theory about how having a kid with you while spotting makes you legit LOL :biggrin:

Always worked with me when my kids were young and I was Helo Spotting!! :O)

Tom_Turner
01-26-2013, 10:48 PM
Well, there are certainly enough shoppers at Cosco that help to possibly end your spotting day early if you are shooting every jetblue arrival. The more you shoot the greater the odds of being booted, however there is another force in play or has been in recent years. There is, or was, an employee of the other business that is just along the water's edge - Petco maybe? I forget. Anyway, he takes out the garbage or whatever and calls on his cell phone as soon as he sees someone start taking photos. Then he tries to "hide" in the little alley way between the store and the water and I guess hoping to see people ejected. I wave at him and laugh. He always looks upset at being spotted.

yankees368
01-27-2013, 12:11 AM
Don't have to worry about that anymore. That awful, disgusting pet store was wiped out during Sandy (sadly, along with the fish market). I hope all the animals made it out ok, but I hope the owner took a total loss. That store was like a death camp for the animals.