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Mastering the Art of Surveillance Detection - Part 1
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Mastering the Art of Surveillance Detection - Part 1

Surveillance Detection, Why?

I promised everyone about six months ago that I would not only be posting tactical related content, but also stuff from my days on the other side. A lot of this is simple knowledge that you might already know unofficially, but it's still nice to have it down on paper. I will be avoiding delving into too many specifics about methodology, while still being able to prepare the normal everyday man or woman to get out of a potentially dangerous scenario. 

So, surveillance detection, how do you know if you're being followed? Are you an occasional schizo who thinks you're being followed from time to time? Just an everyday guy who might think there's someone after you? Maybe you think someone is casing you or your home? Or you're just someone who wants to gain a little bit of knowledge from someone who has a little bit to share? Either way, keep on reading! 

The ability to detect if someone is following you, without making yourself seem like a crazy person, is truly invaluable. This could be the difference between coming out of a dangerous situation dead or alive, so take notes! 

So whether on foot or driving, this guide is very similar. I'll start by saying, for a normal everyday person walking through your downtown or city, there's about a 99% chance that nobody is following you. This guide is for that 1% where someone is following you, regardless of what their intentions are (though assumingly, they are nefarious). 

First, let's talk about the actual detection portion of surveillance detection. How do you know if you're being followed? You're driving down the highway or walking through a common strip of downtown and the same person has been behind you for 10 minutes, an hour, walking or driving behind you - it's a common area, it's a commonly traveled road, probably not a big deal - they probably don't realize you exist. The very first step I like to do if I am trying to detect a potential follower or "tail" is to change my course - if I'm traveling to somewhere that I don't want an adversary to know the location of, the first thing I'll do is add an unplanned stop - the same should be said for you if you're thinking someone may be following you. Pop into a Starbucks, hit a rest area, grab that McDonalds that you shouldn't be eating. Did that individual follow you in (or are they waiting for you to come out)? No? You're good to go, enjoy that Big Mac. If they did follow you in, this is where things get interesting. Is it common that someone driving along a long strip of highway pulled into a rest area or stopped for a burger? Yeah, that's common. What isn't common, is if they enter to the same area, don't really seem to do anything, and maybe even try and change their appearance. Did they pop into the rest area, grab a "I love South Dakota" hoodie, and then leave at the same time as you? You've probably got a tail, for whatever reason - maybe it's someone trying to reach you about your car's extended warranty, maybe it's someone that has awful intentions, regardless, now is the time to confirm whether you're really being followed. 

This second "technique" for determining if you're being followed is often referred to as "boxing", though I'm sure it's been called many different things. If you're in a city, this is much easier - if you're on a highway, it may be necessary to pull off at the nearest town's exit and see what's around. On foot, "boxing" is as easy as doing a square around an area, a route that no normal person would really take - I'm saying, take a left at the next city block, then take another left, and another, and another, until you're back at your starting position, basically a NASCAR simulation. If you're in a car, you'd do the same thing, but makeshift as well as you can based on streets and side roads or whatever else makes a somewhat box shape on a map. The person of interest is still following you after your unplanned stop and box? Yeah, now is the time to worry. If you're a reader of the IntelGoons' blog, I assume you're familiar with concealed carry, and hopefully are carrying. Legally you have no right to do anything at this point, you should still be in "evasive" and not "freak out" mode, so don't do anything rash. 

So, we've determined that we are being followed with almost full certainty. What now? You don't want to lead this person to anywhere with a connection to you, that means don't go home, don't go to your place of work, don't go pick your kid up from school, and don't try to outrun them by doing dangerous maneuvers in your car, you aren't Jason Bourne. 

  1. Calling local law enforcement and explaining your situation can be an effective course of action. Make sure to be explicit in your explanation, and be sure to give full information (calmly) - you don't want law enforcement officers to get the wrong idea of the situation. They may inform you to drive to the closest police department and have an officer meet you outside - chances are, if the suspected tail sees you pulling into a police department parking lot, they will be gone. If you're walking, this option doesn't change much - you can get on the phone with local law enforcement and explain your situation. Alternatively, security guards may get a bad wrap, but they may be placed periodically throughout shopping areas or in certain stores, go strike up a conversation with one. Tell them you're being followed, or don't - you'll have to decide that based on the severity of the situation. 
  2. Local law enforcement might not always be a viable solution, due to distance from your closest station or other factors. Now may be the time to try safe evasive maneuvers. If you're driving and there's a far enough distance from your follower, taking a quick exit or quick turn and trying to put a little bit of distance between them is a potential solution. If you're walking, this is really the same solution. Take a turn, pop into a shop, walk into the bathroom, it can be relatively easy to lose a tail in a crowded downtown area.
  3. Remember that concealed carry I mentioned earlier? Hopefully your training is good and you're confident in your abilities, because option three is just about getting to a public place and chilling. What if this person comes in and confronts you about something, or tries to do you harm since they've finally got you in the right spot? Now, you survive. 

This was probably the longest blog post I've written so far on the website, but I think this was an important topic to cover. The world is a dangerous and rapidly changing place, some cities we once knew as beautiful and safe have been turned into post-apocalyptic hellscapes. Understanding if you're being followed, and how to react, is an incredible skill to have. A lot of what I covered is really just simple knowledge that everyone probably knows inadvertently, it's combining these different tactics, and understanding the escalation scale that is important. 

I've marked this as "part 1" post-writing, because I think this is something that can be delved into further, for those who may want a more advanced write-up. 

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