Top 10 Tips for Countering Surveillance While Walking

Top 10 Tips for Countering Surveillance While Walking

Earlier this week I presented a short article titled the Top 10 Personal Protection Measures For Foreign Travel.  The response to the short article was tremendous so I thought I’d expand the anti-terrorism, anti-crime and anti-kidnapping theme with an additional Top 10 Tips for Countering Surveillance While Walking.  Many of these concepts can also be adapted for domestic use, a without rule of law (WROL) situation or even wilderness areas.

The tips presented run the gamut from passive measures to detect surveillance to active and even aggressive measures to deter, detect and disengage from surveillance.

Before we begin I want to point out that if you have a trained, professional surveillance team (rotating so the same person or persons isn’t always the one watching you) with state of the art communications and competent leadership following you…you will likely never know it unless they take overt actions.  A surveillance team that’s trained and large enough can actually follow you partially from being in front of you by rotating team members down parallel streets.  While such capabilities exist, you are much more likely and the techniques listed below should prove much more effective against the untrained, under-manned and under-equipped… street criminals and less sophisticated terrorist or kidnapping groups.

  1. Mirrors:  Use mirrors and reflective surfaces in your environment to spot surveillance.  Vehicle mirrors, traffic mirrors that allow drivers to see traffic entering the roadway, and the glass in windows can all be used to spot surveillance without looking directly at your potential followers.
  2. Retrace Your Course:  Retracing your course can make it easier to spot surveillance but may tip your hand.  You can also use short doublebacks like a stairway to a business that forces you to face to the rear.
  3. Stop Unexpectedly:  Stop to read a sign, admire a pretty girl or ‘look’ in a newspaper kiosk and see how the people on the street behind you act/react.  Stop to tie your shoe, buy a cup of coffee or eat lunch in a crowded area.  Longer stops may move amateur groups onto easier targets but will give a sophisticated team time to improve their surveillance plan.
  4. KidnappedChange Your Pace:   How do people react when you slow down or speed up…does anyone match pace?
  5. Proceed to a Known Safe Area:  Consider in advance where you’ll go if you feel threatened…maybe it’s the local police station, maybe it’s a friend’s house or a crowded plaza but it could also be an embassy, museum or transportation hub that you know has increased security… get through the security perimeter and watch what happens when your pursuers walk up to the metal detectors or security forces.
  6. Deviate From Your Route:  If you feel that your destination is known, abandon it.  If you’ve been traveling in a straight line take off in a new direction…maybe your followers have grown complacent and will lose track of you when you do the unexpected.
  7. Seek Crowds:  Criminals are less likely to act where there will be witnesses.  It’s also easier to get lost in a crowd.
  8. Change Your Appearance:  Take off your jacket, put on a hat, put your hair up…or down.  Do this in concert with one or more of the other techniques we’ve presented.
  9. Change Your Mode of Travel:  Hail a taxi, grab a bicycle, flag down a car or jump on a bus.
  10. Turn and Hide:  Move off your route of travel and find someplace to lay low…and watch if possible

Bonus Tip:  Call the Police:  Depending on the level of corruption and government support for the terrorists or criminals this may not be an option…but if you’re travelling in an area that enjoys rule of law…don’t overlook turning to the authorities.  Make sure you know how to make calls and what the local equivalent of 911 is.

Knowing you’re being followed is good information, letting your followers know that you know can be dangerous as it may cause them to take more aggressive measures.  Evaluate your situation, evaluate your potential opposition and evaluate your odds before taking aggressive actions.

Counter-surveillance skills are like any other skill…they must be practiced to appear natural and be effective.

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