Thursday, October 13, 2016

Are You Being Followed?

The other day I left work and noticed something. I work on a federal installation and have about a 15 to 20 minute commute so I settled down to thinking about what I had to do at home.
I realized that I had picked up a “tail”. Actually, I was not sure about it but after making 2 turns I still saw the gray SUV behind me. First, I got the vehicles plate number. Then I started a little counter-surveillance technique called SDR or surveillance detection route.
Counter-Surveillance is, simply put, the art of preventing people from seeing what you are doing. This can cover techniques as simple as alternating your daily movement patterns to as complex as sweeping your bedroom for electronic listening devices.
This article covers a simple technique for detecting if you have a “tail.”
As someone who works on a government facility I’m always aware that I can catch the attention of some protester or some anti-government character that may be intent on doing me harm. Or worse, finding out where I live and trying to do my family harm. If you are in law enforcement, the judicial system, or maybe just work in a controversial place, like Planned Parenthood or some high profile place like that, you may need this information. You may just be a young woman who lives alone.
Always remember to keep your “head on a swivel” and practice good situational awareness.
More likely than not, you will be driving when you’re being tailed but this applies to being on foot also.
When I had my “spidey” senses go off with this SUV I started to formulate my plan. I turned at a place I never turn on my way home from work.
Turning is the beginning of your SDR. You are trying to see if someone follows and how far they will go. Ensure you don’t find yourself turning into a bad part of town or an isolated location. In narcotics this is called “squaring the block.” If you see the same vehicle after 3 turns or it disappears but reappears you can assume you are being followed. Speeding up and slowing down will also tell you something. Most people will pass you if you slow down enough. As you do these simple things pay close attention to the “target” vehicle. What is their reaction to what you have done? If you are in an area that you are familiar with drive into a cul-de-sac. If the suspected vehicle follows you in pay close attention to a description of the vehicle and the occupants. Even grab your phone and take a picture or video of them. Be very careful with this move. If the target vehicle means to attack you, then you may have driven into a trap.
Professionals will have multiple vehicles and communication between them. They will make it look like nothing is wrong. They understand SDR and will use it to their advantage to put your mind at ease and think you are not being followed. If that is happening to you will have other things to worry about rather than being followed. You’re either being targeted by law enforcement or the government. Either one of those is because you are involved with something illegal.
If you are not sure about being followed but want to be more cautious park close to your home rather than in the driveway. Sit in your car for a few minutes before exiting. Look around to see if there is anything unusual. Any occupied cars parked nearby? Anyone you don’t know walking their dog or jogging? Binoculars are an asset in this situation. If you are still concerned walk to the corner and back or walk around the block. If things are alright go into your home but make sure.
To master surveillance tradecraft you must be taught. The techniques are not natural in fact it runs counter to human nature. Because of this, intelligence and security professionals who work surveillance operations receive in-depth training that includes many hours of heavily critiqued practical exercises, often followed by field training with experienced surveillance operatives.
At the most basic level, counter surveillance can be performed by a person who is aware of his or her surroundings and who is watching for people who violate the principles of TEDD. TEDD is what the U.S. government uses to illustrate the principles that can be used to identify surveillance. TEDD stands for Time, Environment, Distance, and Demeanor. So, a person who sees someone repeatedly over Time, in different Environments and over Distance, or one who displays poor Demeanor can assume he or she is under surveillance.
Situational awareness will go a long way to detecting surveillance. If you feel threatened or fear violence drive to a police station or a very populated, well lit, location. Call the police.
Be sure to not make SDR part of your daily activities. Situational awareness should be part of your daily activities. SDR can help you determine others intentions or if you should safeguard yourself more than usual. SDR requires full alertness and concentration.
I had turned 3 times and was still being followed. After the fourth turn the SUV kept going straight. I never saw it again. False alarm I guess. But it was good practice.
Semper Paratus
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