OPSEC, PERSEC, or whatever. You step out of your home and you are vulnerable. This article looks at the use of a vehicle whether or not the Rule of Law has collapsed.
Before going outside.
When in transit you must keep alert. That alertness starts before you leave your home.
Most people work to a timetable especially if you go to work.
Routine is a weakness as it allows others to predict your movements and plan attacks.
So, vary your exit times and routes to and from your vehicle.
Use your street awareness. Look round INTELLIGENTLY before you exit.
BOLO for passerby’s, loiters, surveillance from vehicles, unfamiliar parked vehicles, even loose dogs.
Remember if something looks or feels wrong, it probably is.
Walking to the vehicle.
Even if your vehicle is just outside the front door you are still vulnerable but having to walk to a garage block or allocated parking space is tactically DANGEROUS.
Distance between home and your vehicle could turn into ambush and / or injury.
The time of day or even which day it is can change things as well.
Quiet, busy, school holidays, football matches, nightclubs, or the local pub turning out, and the whole safety situation can change. Weather can be a factor too.
Rain, fog, snow, ice, and high winds can all change your mobility and more importantly your visibility.
Consider you laden down with whatever, walking to your vehicle, and turning your back to passer bys. (Even that nice guy who passes you same time every day).
Something happens and your hands are full could lead to you being attacked and unable to defend yourself.
Even if it doesn’t, juggling keys and loads means you are wasting time and concentrating on something else at the expense of your situational awareness. So don’t load yourself down.
If you have to carry lots and have passengers, consider splitting the load between them.
That’s difficult with kids but it’s a matter of worth.
What’s worth more? You free to defend you and your own or having to drop the laptop?
If you have to transport a large quantity of goods, either bring the vehicle to the load or make a few trips. Load first, kids last.
Other way round
i.e. You’re home or to your destination. Kids safe first, load last.
DON’T do the idiots trick of running in and out of the house leaving the engine running or leaving both doors unlocked and the trunk open. It may add a few seconds but opportunist thieves can pounce on the vehicle or your home whilst you shuttle between the two. You can’t be in both or defend them at the same time.
Worse case scenario? Kids in the car and the car gets nicked or,< br/> Kids in the house, you locked outside, murderer inside.
Approaching your vehicle.
Remember assault and robbery can be carried out by men, women, youths, children, and even dogs.
If you are a single person, woman or not, if you can get help from a security person, do so.
Accompanied or not, street crime is usually violent and a boot, bottle, stick, knife, or gun makes no distinction about what sex or age you are.
When using a car park
- Always park in well lit, popular, preferably valet or security manned, busy areas, especially if you plan to arrive or leave after dark or outside working hours.
- Do not park in isolated or visually obstructed areas near walls or heavy foliage.
- Always park so you can drive straight out.
- If you need to use a child seat, never park on the road or in an unattended car park.
- It doesn’t matter if it’s in the drive, a garage, or a car park.
- Groups or lone persons in uniform or not.
- Someone handing out flyers round your vehicle.
- Persons watching you even if they are just sat on a bench eating burgers.
- Persons sitting in cars watching even if it is a couple.
- Damage or tampering like glued locks or flat tires.
- Someone starts to approach you as you are walking to your vehicle.
- Vans or large vehicles parked too close alongside your vehicle, or obstructing your exit route, or “forcing you” to use a route not of your choosing.
Referring to the close parked van.
If a sliding door is facing your drivers door, consider that it could open in a second and you could be grabbed. In a car park this sometimes occurs BUT you should get into your vehicle from the opposite side of the van. If in doubt, walk away and come back accompanied as an absolute minimum.
What about a van on either side or the car on the passenger side that is REALLY close?
If that doesn’t scream set up, nothing does. As above, if in doubt, walk away and come back accompanied as an absolute minimum. Any of the above should send you back home or to the venue to get security to accompany you.
It’s not being a wimp, it’s being streetwise.
As you get closer to your vehicle BOLO for:-
- Flat tires.
- Broken glass
- Locks sealed over with glue or damaged
- Doors, the trunk (boot), or hood (bonnet), ajar or open.
- Wiper blades snapped off or missing
Spot something wrong and you should return to safety and get help. It may be just be vandalism, theft or, worse case, a distraction tactic for attack. Either way play safe and evacuate unless you have safety in numbers.
Safety in numbers and a flat tire means you could change it BUT beware of the helpful stranger.
They could just be a wolf in sheep’s clothing i.e. They could attack you.
If everything is OK, take a final look behind the vehicle, the side you couldn’t see, and behind the drivers seat in the rear foot-well.
- If everything is OK, unlock the car.
- If applicable transfer the load (remembering about not turning your back), passengers first, load last.
- GET IN, lock the door, and start the engine.
- If the car starts OK, drive off. Don’t dally. DRIVE OFF!
- The longer you sit, the better the chance of someone blocking you in or attacking you
Getting in with passengers.
- Both passengers, especially children, should be encouraged to get in, close their door, and lock it and strap in. With kids, training with reward is fun.
- Try and get the time down as a game. It will soon turn automatic.
- If you are seating a young child or baby, don’t turn your back on passer bys.
- Put the people in the car first, then the dog, and then the luggage. Luggage you can replace, family you can’t.
Windows. (Too hot)
Occupants would like the windows open BUT resist that.
You stopped at a junction and a snatch theft or car invasion just got easy for the bad guys.
Windows. (Frosty or snow covered)
Load first, clear the glass once everyone is safely seated, strapped in, and the doors are locked.
DON’T just run the motor get out and start to clear the windows.
An opportunist thief could dive in and drive away whilst you are round the back.
The Leaflet Scam.
CAUTION. If you spot a leaflet under your windscreen wiper (usually the rear one), don’t stop to take it off. It’s a classic distraction technique to get you out of the car with the engine running.
Just drive off to somewhere distant and safe, then park, engine off, keys in hand, get out and dump the trash. NEVER GET OUT AND LEAVE THE ENGINE RUNNING.
What if the engine doesn’t start?
If you have safety in numbers, put someone in the drivers seat and if you can carry out repairs BUT if you are on your own, LOCK UP and return to the venue or your home and summon help.
As for the load? Loads are best put in the boot (trunk), out of sight.
If you can’t do that, carry it away with yourself.
What if you break down?
- Get your vehicle off the road if possible.
- Call for assistance using your mobile, don’t try to fix the car yourself unless you have safety in numbers,.
- ALWAYS DIAL 999 (911) if you are a lone female (with or without children), elderly, or a disabled person.
- If you can’t phone, put a large sign in the window saying “call police, need help.”
- If a police car, ambulance, or fire engine drives past, put your hand on the horn and flash your lights until they come to you.
- In the day and in a busy place, put your hazards on and walk to safety.
- If it’s night time, in a busy, well lit area, put on warm clothing, and walk streetwise to a lighted safe area i.e. a 24/7 shop, garage, or hotel.
- If it is a desolate or deserted road, CALL FOR HELP.
- Get warmly dressed, walk away from the car and go to some bushes, or some area away from your vehicle.
When driving BOLO for people following you.
- Criminal activity (Car Jacking, insurance frauds, kidnap or worse).
- Security. Don’t laugh as that as it includes the DSS, police, even private investigators.
- It could be road rage or a mentally unbalanced person.
If things get too “hairy”.
Be aware that they might ram you or cut in front of you to stop you escaping so leave plenty of room in front and behind.
Speed kills but don’t forget that on each side of the road there is a thing called a pavement or even footpaths.
Avoid fields unless you have a 4×4 with suitable tires.
If you are attacked by another car, try not to damage your car by smashing your way out of something, it’s better to push than smash.
If you have to push your way out of trouble, remember that to spin a car, aim just to the back of their rear axle but don’t smash into it, more accelerate through it.
CAUTION. Your car may turn towards the target vehicle as you do this so be ready to correct your steering.
Your sole aim is to get to a place of safety.
Unmarked Police cars ( https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q587.htm)
The following is advice for anyone who feels vulnerable were she (or he) to stop. In many cases there may be several of you in the vehicle or you are confident you can deal with the situation, in which case this advice may not be for you.
An unmarked police car can stop vehicles, but it must contain a constable who MUST be in uniform in order to carry out the stop.
If a car flashing for you to pull over or stop is unmarked, unless you are 100% certain it is the police, do not stop.
Drive steadily to the nearest public place (for example a petrol station where they are open till late, a police station or somewhere there are a lot of people) and then stop.
If you are in a relatively deserted area, as a last resort, consider looking for a house that is obviously occupied and pull into the driveway. (You can always apologize to the householder afterwards.)
Try and signal that you have acknowledged the request to stop and indicate the action you are taking (put your flashers on or signal by pointing from the driver’s window etc.).
Don’t drive off at great speed making the police think you are trying to get away.
Keep the doors locked until you are happy it is the police. Have your mobile at hand just in case. You can ask to see a warrant card, which should carry a name and photograph, through the closed window.
Regularly check your mirror for a vehicle following you.
A single “tail” is easy to spot. They must stay close enough to keep you in sight, yet far enough away to avoid detection. This will make their driving erratic with a delay on signalling, lane changes, and poor speed to distance control.
If you think you are being followed, go direct to a police station whilst calling the police on your mobile.
Never try to outrun them. speed kills. Never stop and challenge them. They could be armed.
If you see a passing police car, sound your horn and flash your lights to stop them.
In the mean time, drive on busy popular roads and keep plenty of space in front of you in case they try to swerve in front.
Unsure if you are being followed?
Stop for gas (fuel) or go to a drive through takeaway. Wait for a bit, then resume driving. if the vehicle resumes the tail, they could be trailing you.
HUGE CAUTION HERE. Bad driving technique could cause accidents.
At traffic lights, indicate but don’t turn, or don’t indicate but turn at the last moment. If they follow you that’s suspicious but don’t jump a red light unless they get out of their car and approach you on foot.
At a roundabout, exit sharply without indicating or indicate a turn off but don’t turn, You could even double back. (definitely a good one for detection.)
Arrival at your destination.
If you are approaching home with a tail don’t pull up outside your home as they will then know where you live.
The Car Insurance Scam
You may be at a junction or red light and be rear ended or even side swiped.
If you are alone, disabled, or an all female group, don’t get out of the car.
CALL THE POLICE AND AN AMBULANCE if your car is disabled and you are injured..
Indicate for them to follow you and head for the nearest police station or very public place whilst phoning the police for assistance.
Then, there, if they want to exchange insurance details, do it from behind a locked door and through a window slit in public.
NEVER HAND YOUR DOCUMENTS TO THEM. They can copy them through the window.
NEVER “Sort this out with a cash payment to avoid inconvenience”.
NEVER give your details without seeing theirs first AND a form of photo ID.
IF THEY HAVE NO DOCUMENTS, ASSUME A SCAM and dial 999.
IN PUBLIC, if you have a camera, take photographs of the supposed damage and of the driver and their passengers. If they protest, that’s a definite sign of a scam
KEEP YOUR ENGINE GOING just in case things turn nasty.
DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO BOX YOU IN. If they try to and won’t move, consider it a hostile act.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS if something looks or feels wrong, it probably is. If it was definitely their fault, definitely assume a scam.
A Note on getting lost.
- It’s good security to inform someone what your plans are, the route you’re following, and your ETA.
- Know where you are driving to and don’t rely on a GPS to route you safely through unknown areas.
- Always carry a street map with the police, fire stations, and hospitals, etc. marked on the map.
- Remember the name of the last and current road you are on.
- If possible, try to keep on the major thoroughfares.
- Update your monitor if your plans change.
- If you get lost don’t stop in unknown areas and get out to ask for directions.
- Go to a drive through, 24/7 supermarket, or police station
Finally when you arrive don’t forget to update your friend or work.