Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Being Followed in a Car: Losing A Tail

I was driving in a city where I don’t live. I knew the city a little bit, enough to not get too lost, but not real well. I was driving on the freeway on my way to a hotel where I was staying. It was late at night and I was alone. Traffic was not real busy, but there were some cars on the road. I had just come up an on-ramp and was merging onto the freeway when I realized I had just cut off a pickup that I did not see. He had to stow down significantly but not really slam on his brakes to keep from hitting me. I cringed and hoped he could stop and then had that feeling we have all had when we do something wrong. I hit the gas to try and “drive” out of the situation. The next thing I knew there was someone on my tail following a little too close. I did the trick you should do if you think you’re being followed, I slowed down.. When I did, the car slowed down too, a sure sign I was probably being followed. Needless to say, I lost him and went on my merry way, chiding myself for not being a better driver.
There are many different situations in which you may be followed. Could be a jealous ex or a private investigator (PI) hired by someone. Or it might just be that nut you cut off in traffic.
First you must identify if you really are being followed. I mentioned above just slow down. When you do this, most cars will simply go around you, unless they want to follow you.
Another way to ensure you’re not being followed is to run a surveillance detection route. This can be as elaborate or simple as you deem it should be. Try driving around the block. Or you could drive to 3 different locations. Drive to the gas station. Then to the hardware store. Then to Dairy Queen. If you see the same vehicle at each location you’re more than likely being followed, or you live in a very small town. But 3 locations should be the magic number. The likelihood of you seeing the same vehicle at all three places is pretty slim even for a small town.
So you’re being followed. No need to panic, there are some things you can do. Here are some. One is not better than the other, you need to decide which fits your situation.
Ambush. The worst case scenario. You need to keep the location secret and you work for the CIA. Go to a parking garage, get out of your vehicle quickly and lay in ambush to “neutralize the target.” You will probably never have to go to this extreme but there is the extreme solution.
If someone is following you they probably don’t want you to know it. Let them know you’re on to them. Make eye contact, point at them, most will stop following because they wanted to be secretive about it. A PI will leave if he’s been made. If a criminal was following you to your home for a home invasion, he too will not want to get caught and will leave to find another victim. This seems like it wouldn’t be what you want to do, but having their cover blown often will result in the termination of the operation. They’ll often stop following you.
Shoot the gap. This is risky but effective. In case you don’t know, here’s how shooting the gap works: you’re the first car in line sitting in traffic and getting ready to take a left hand turn. The light turns green, but you do not get a green arrow, which normally means you would have to yield to the other cars before making your left hand turn. However, as soon as the light turns green you “shoot the gap” and take your left hand turn before the other cars get moving and now you don’t have to wait for the break in cars to take your left hand turn. This is an excellent (but riskier) way to lose a tail because by the time the tail reaches the intersection there isn’t an opening for them to cross the intersection any longer.
Shoot the semi gap. If you’re on the highway there’s likely numerous big rigs. Wait for the right moment and you can weave in and out of the big rigs not leaving any space for your tail to follow. Once you’re free you could get off at the next exit (as long as your tail can’t see you do this.)
Call the police. If you’re truly afraid and you know you’re being followed, don’t try and be a hero. Call the police and give them your location and keep driving along the same highway or road until the police arrive. As soon as your tail sees the police car there’s a very good chance they’ll stop following you to instead worry about the new set of problems they have.
If you are being followed stay on main arteries. Don’t go off to secluded side roads. Stay on busy roads where there are plenty of people. Stay calm and keep moving. If you are moving you are safe. Don’t get blocked in with no escape route out from a stop light o other traffic.
If you must stop, make sure there are lots of people around or go to a police station.
Usually if you are being followed it will not be by someone who has done this before or has been taught surveillance skills. Unless they are a PI. Just remember the above information and that should take care of most problems you will have with a tail. Use your head and listen to the Spirit.
Semper Paratus
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