A critical aspect of personal protection is situational awareness. An important facet of situational awareness is the ability to know if we’re being watched or monitored. We as private citizens should practice surveillance detection. We want to notice if a person or group of people are patterning our behavior and monitoring us or our families (or businesses) with the intention of some sort of attack.
The surveillance could be as simple as someone loitering outside of a gas station for opportunistic crime or panhandling, through stalkers with violent intent, or as complicated as years long terrorism plots. Surveillance is a critical part of all of these criminal activities, and therefor surveillance detection is a topic you should understand.
I was interested in this topic, so I found the book Surveillance Detection – The Art of Prevention on Amazon and started to study.
The book defines terms and dispels some myths that exist around this field. Throughout the book the authors use anecdotal and hypothetical examples to illustrate their points and allow the reader to more easily visualize the techniques described. They carry the reader from designing to implementing a SD program, all the way through what to do if surveillance is detected. It’s quite thorough.
The authors give ideas for individual, small business, corporation, law enforcement, and even military level surveillance detection operations. You can be as elaborate as you choose to be.
I’ll quickly run down the major facets of SD and note things I found useful. The steps to building a personal surveillance detection program include:
- A Risk/Threat assessment in which you list all possible threats you face, the relative likelihood of those threats, the risk factors that caused you to include them on the assessment sheet, the preventative course of action to mitigate that threat, and the residual risk AFTER you have taken the preventative course of action.
- Route reviews which are sketched on maps that include your daily travel routes, where surveillance (SV) would be able to watch you on your routes, finding parts of the route that overlap so SV can find you each day, identifying likely attack points, and determining SV’s likely cover stories and possible escape routes. For most people like us, these are in our neighborhoods, at work, and at any other regular stops we make.
- Building reviews which can be sketched on google maps printouts of your home/office. With this tool, you can determine the most likely places of your home/office that SV will be looking at. You can see where they will observe from, and determine where you can watch them observe you (both from inside and outside the structure). I did a similar exercise in this post.
- Tips on observation. There are three categories: areas, people, and vehicles. The authors describe how to observe an area for possible SV, using arching visual fields and looking at hard corners of buildings and vehicles (think parking lot at grocery store). Noting features of people and vehicles are also covered. Practicing these skills allow you to “be a good witness”. They are valuable to everyone.
The book also goes into depth about building an operational plan for team-based SD. This is more in depth than we need to go, but I found it interesting.
While the focus of the book is primarily on a higher level, team based, corporate SD team (because it’s the most complicated), a little imagination will give you ideas that you can implement for your family. I found this to be an interesting read and worth of my time.
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