We call it surveillance detection in the spy business. By developing a surveillance detection route (SDR), you can deter a planned attack against you. An SDR is a planned and timed course of travel that’s executed to deter and manipulate an assailant. Victims of kidnappings or killings are usually monitored by their attackers in advance. This pre-operational surveillance allows the plotters to determine the best method, time, and place to carry out their plan of attack. This article will lay out a plan for you to lose that tail and get home safely.
The cardinal rule for personal safety is for people to be aware of their surroundings at all times, and to observe the behavior of others in the area. Detecting surveillance will require you to take extra precautions. One of the best ways to notice a tail is by using a solid SDR. You can cause a surveillance team to act in ways that betray their presence and intentions by changing your behavior. Understanding that you can manipulate a surveillance situation is one of the most important lessons to be gleaned from this series.
Techniques for manipulating surveillance teams include stair-stepping, varying routes and departure times, using intrusion points, and timing stops. The most common and effective SDR tool is the channel. A channel is a long, straight corridor that has several exits or routes at the far end. The subway is also a type of channel. Most people likely use such channels in their daily routes but are unaware of them. A person who wants to ensure he or she is not being tailed can use the channel to force the surveillant to follow closely behind. This is because the operative cannot parallel your route or know which way you will go at the end of the channel. Natural channels are long bridges and sections of highway that have no exits or overpasses.
Stair-stepping involves making turns that deviate slightly from the most direct route to the destination. This can be done on foot or by vehicle. During a stair-stepping sequence, a surveillant is likely to reveal his presence by staying with his subject during the series of turns. This is a common mistake made by amateur surveillance operatives who fear losing sight of the target. Don’t make sudden or unnatural movements or the surveillance team will break off without revealing its presence.
By varying routes and departure times, you can cause a surveillant to go into action abruptly in order to compensate for the change in plans. Varying departure times from fixed locations like your home or office can force the surveillants to remain in one place for an extended period and attract unwarranted attention.
An intrusion point is a place along your route that provides a secondary exit—like a back door. This enables you to stop and see whether anyone is following. If the intrusion point has a secondary exit, you can give the surveillance team the slip by heading out the back door. Intrusion points, like all points of your SDR, can’t be random. Plan these stops in advance and make sure they correlate with your general routine. You can easily go to a movie theater, buy the ticket, and then slip out the emergency exit.
My last piece of advice is to always look at shoes. It’s easy for a person who’s following you to put on a hat, change a shirt, or put on sunglasses. No one ever takes the time to change shoes. Using this trick will also make you look inconspicuous because you won’t have to appear to be eyeballing your surroundings when walking around. Looking forward or toward the pavement is a natural act.
Best of luck, and be safe.