This post forms a sort of ‘Part two’ to what type of prepper I am.
What is foraging in survival terms?
The text books list:
- Foraging is searching for and exploiting natural food resources i.e. berries, nuts, and “wild” meat.
- Scavenging implies taking of essential items such as food, water, shelter, or other material needed for survival.
- Looting is different from scavenging and foraging as it implies taking items of luxury or not necessary for survival goods such as , precious metals, or other valuables.
The line between the three elements is difficult to interpret and on the ground the military or temporarily appointed “authority” would just treat everything as Looting. If martial law has been declared and summary justice authorized OR if street justice is in force, anyone caught stands a good chance of being killed.
That’s something that is paramount in my thinking as others rely on my skill set. Personal safety first as I can always come back later if I cannot find another source of what I need.
The boring legal bit follows.
Some of the content that follows describes techniques and activities, which may not be clearly identifiable as being illegal. It is the responsibility of the individual to abide by the law at all times. It is not recommended that any of the activities described actually be carried out. This article is informative entertainment purposes only. NEVER BREAK THE LAW.
So, where to start?
In survival terms, if you haven’t got what you need you’ll either have to make it, improvise, or go and get it.
The standard list of I need goes SHELTER, CLIMATE CONTROL (heating or cooling), FUEL / BATTERIES, CLEAN WATER, MEDICINES, FOOD, and whatever else you need.
Take the item SHELTER.
Scenario. You’ve broken down in winter outside an empty house, miles from help. Your choices are, stay in the car and freeze, or get into the house and the possibility of being able to call for help. AND YOUR CHOICE IS? Mine is to live by getting into the house ASAP using the minimal force and causing the least damage.
You’ve broken down in winter outside an occupied house, miles from help and the owner won’t let you in to shelter from the storm. He’s armed, or not, it makes non difference. To stay outside is death. AND YOUR CHOICE IS? Mine is I will gain entry one way or the other. The good Samaritan would have let me in so this one is either an idiot, scared, or a smart arse. So, I will force entry, and defend myself using the minimum of force necessary, in order to live.
Those two examples will show how I view EVERYTHING in survival terms.
There are no taboo’s, no limits, if you need something to survive, go for it.
What follows may seem like a lot of work ESPECIALLY if the Rule of Law has collapsed BUT you must appreciate that YOUR safety is paramount.
After all you can’t forage, scavenge, or protect your family if you are in jail or worse i.e. DEAD.
So what’s this all about? Getting in, out, and away INTACT with what you need.
There are three stages to this, surveillance, testing response, and your actions.
- Surveillance / observation will tell you WHAT security is in place.
- Testing response is all about what would happen WHEN you try to acquire things.
- Your actions? They are determined by THE OTHER TWO.
Surveillance is all about finding out what you will have to cope with.
- Physical Security (Both external and if possible Internal).
- Caution is needed with carrying out an internal survey as your visit could be monitored and recorded by CCTV. Remember the police like to review old security tapes / disks after an intrusion.
- Electronic systems i.e. CCTV, Alarms, Smart Water, Smoke Curtain, or noise bomb.
BOLO for signage. Got to love UK HSE regulations haven’t you.
- Can they call in Air Support or Aerial Surveillance
If the area is under military control, both of the above could be a problem. Don’t forget they may have IR capabilities.
- How far is the security firms base of operations from the site?
Important information as you may need to consider that responding officers may arrive from two different directions.
Does the security change M-F, weekends, or during national holidays?
Look for the “B” team. Every firm has one. The idiots, the lazy, the apathetic.
Is it manned security and if so is it 24 hr or just casual visit.
If it is 24 hour I’d leave the site alone and move on BUT if you are desperate, be mindful that multi-manned sites usually operate local shifts i.e. one sleeps whilst the other patrols. Miss that and you could walk into double the trouble. Another reason for leaving a manned site alone.
If casual visits are the norm, are those visits predictable?
- Look for dogs. If there are dogs forget it and move on. Unless you can kill them prior to entering, the danger of harm to you is too great a risk.
- WHAT resources does the response unit use i.e. Personnel only, personnel with dogs, are they armed?
- What is their REACTION time to an alarm at different times, i.e. Daytime, Pre 03 h, After 04 h
- HOW long are they going to stay on site i.e. in and out in 5 minutes or stay hours on the site.
- HOW do they react i.e. a full search or just a gate rattle.
- Are they alone, accompanied, male, female, armed, with a dog?
- Is there a military, LEO, or authority, presence that forms part of the targets procedures. IF there is, walk away.
IF they call for help, you might end up taking on a formidable response.
The simplest way of finding this out is to do what alarm companies hate, multiple false alarms. Having been a rapid response driver for a few security firms, I know that when an alarm goes off during conditions that are less than ideal i.e.windy, storms,when it is too hot or cold, responses are slower than normal. This is because false alarm rates soar on these occasions.
Note:- The second response to any site is usually faster than the first. Mainly because the driver now KNOWS the route to the location.
Providing there is no visible damage or signs of entry, multiple false alarms will usually result in turning the alarm system off pending investigation and repair the next day. It is rare for a mobile patrol to remain on site and even rarer for a key holder to stay.
In normal life (Not SHTF) Most security drivers have a large area to cover. If they are not carrying internal access keys (they rarely do for insurance reasons) they are usually limited to external checks probably only having a perimeter gate access card / key / or digital lock combination.
Regarding timing of false alarms.
Drivers are nearly always under time pressure to complete a round.
Give them at least 30-40 minutes on exit before triggering the alarm. Think random in timing though.
For example two false trips EXACTLY 30 minutes apart might raise attention.
Your objective is to put distance between the responder and the site. It must look like a continuous, if random, problem. The more they have to travel, the more the irritation factor kicks in. Especially from their control room.
For those have never worked civilian night patrol, 15 or more sites are normal for the average night patrol with 2 to 3 visits per site over a 12 hour shift the norm.
It is not uncommon for an urban driver to exceed 200 miles a shift.
Add a rural element and for one firm I was driving 300 miles a night.
Looking at the maths, that’s an average of 8 hours driving.
That leaves 4 hours “search” time.
15 sites, 2 visits a night, 30 visits or 8 minutes a site.
15 sites, 3 visits a night, 45 visits or 5 minutes a site.
Mostly it’s all about meeting insurance requirements not a proper crime deterrent. It’s also almost impossible to do this on a truly random sequence. Geography always kicks in and it’s rare that drivers will shuttle from district to district in a random fashion.
It’s also unlikely that the key holder will attend in the small hours unless there is visible damage. Of course if they do and stay, you will just quietly move on.
Don’t just drive off from your OP though.
You stand a very good chance of being spotted and may even run into pre-warned extra patrols.
Bear in mind that what I have described happens in normal circumstances.
Add a bit of civil disturbance, mayhem, etc. and everything takes on a different persona. If anything life for the forager/ scavenger becomes easier.
Forget fancy. Think simple, fast, and energy-efficient.
Think Maximum Gain For Minimum Effort.
No perimeter security means you could just bust your way in using basic tools and techniques.
Don’t forget that getting in is only part of the problem.
Never enter a location without having at least one other way out
If you have the slightest doubt about anything, listen to that doubt and LEAVE.
Consider that time is critical and some internal defences could be hazardous to your well-being i.e.
- SMART WATER sprays or other UV staining dyes can contaminate both clothing and skin. If you are then exposed to UV light, you “fluoresce ” or glow. It lasts for weeks.
- Sound Bomb and Infra sound can upset your equilibrium for a long time.
- Smoke, noxious air, and fire suppressant (sometimes used illegally as part of an alarm system) can affect your health.
- Electric fences, bullets, and dogs can also be “harmful” to your well-being.
- And, in times of emergencies or conflict, Mines, Man and Booby Traps could have been set.
Thoughts about your safety on accessing property
Consider the UK 2010 Riots.
Nearly all those caught were identified by CCTV. Why?
Because in the heat of the moment, they forgot to disguise themselves and the basics of forensics.
Survival, foraging and scavenging is not a game.
Your goal may be to survive during an event BUT all events end and then the consequences of your actions may be considered.
If the various security systems are still working and marshal law prevails, the last thing you need to be is to be identifiable.
Being hauled before a military tribunal could result in summary justice i.e. YOUR DEATH.
Wear Waterproof hooded outer layers.
Drab common make clothing, slit balaclava, hat, gloves, and safety glasses.
Preferably clothing you can discard in case of UV Sprays
Use generic style footwear as unusual tread patterns can identify you.
Some even cover their boots with socks.
CARRY EAR PLUGS as defence against sound bombs.
Empty pockets, use standard patrol noise control procedures.
Shop to a list BUT include BOLO’s.
Access with a suitably sized rucksack.
Keep your hands free at all times.
If you are using a vehicle, Gray man it and anonymize your ride.
Leave your tools outside or hide them on entry after all you did find the door WIDE OPEN didn’t you?
If you are discovered, dump your load.
Taking shelter is a lesser charge than being accused of looting.
Timing your intrusion.
Get In, Get Out, as fast as possible.
You could use a bolt cropper, hammers, bars, lock picks, and saws if the site is unmanned and NOT under CCTV surveillance but it could take a long time and TIME ON SITE IS YOUR ENEMY.
Give yourself NO LONGER than 3 minutes inside ANY premises.
That’s an ABSOLUTE.
Longer than that is not only TACTICALLY STUPID but POSSIBLY SUICIDE if the SHTF and martial law has been declared.
A simple clockwork egg timer is useful, small, light, and insistent.
It also has another function.
IF someone appears on site, you can reset it to act as a diversion.
Too breach a gate, fence or a security grill at speed, use a vehicle.
Cutting or breaking locks isn’t easy.
Bolt cutters need to be a MINIMUM of 4 foot long.
Don’t try to crash through fencing.
Consider using a grapple or log hook with a line and pull the object out-of-the-way.
The last thing you need is a damaged vehicle.
Lorry straps are really strong. Add a couple of “D” links (aka Snap links) and simple to loop round things and jerk them down and out.
Memo:- Any vehicle you use should have a tow bar fitted as standard.
PIR / Other movement detectors
If you haven’t been detected by external means, the chances are as soon as you enter SOMETHING will detect you.
Your problem is when nothing local goes off like an alarm bell. Just because you can’t hear anything, it doesn’t mean that the alarm hasn’t phoned out or radioed your actions.
Windows that open are usually linked into the security system or at least facing a sensor.
If you have to smash it, pop the corners using an engineers automatic punch and push it in. Use a cloth to cover the sill when you enter as cuts in a survival situation can be fatal.
All access points are normally alarmed, sometimes hardened and can trigger internal defences or alarms.
Having said that, UVPVC is generally your friend.
In the UK sub standard UVPVC units is the norm not the exception.
Panels can be kicked out, beading removed, protruding locks “snapped” or “pulled”.
Look for thumb turn locks on the inside. There are simple wire tools to bypass these items. Look on YouTube for designs.
Keys left in locks or half in /out? Again simple wire tools are used to pull and turn them.
Don’t forget the domestic integral garage and door into the property.
It puts you under cover and usually gives you access to the home owners tools.
Doors, carry a couple of simple wood wedges. Use them to prevent someone using the door you just pried open. Don’t forget to check that there is a way of opening the door on BOTH SIDES. IF in doubt, wedge the door open.
Am I contradicting myself?
Not if you think about entering a room you cannot get out of.
WTH! Sometimes builders put all their energies into hardening doors and windows. Yet, in some industrial units, a good shove with a truck tow bar may punch an accessible hole in a single brick skin or distort an aluminum shutter enough for you to squeeze in. After all a one tonne mallet is kinda efficient at doing that as opposed to a lump or sledge hammer.
Forget it. If you can’t shim or bypass a lock in under a minute, break in with the minimum visible damage.
Digital locks are simple to defeat with simple 6×6,7×7, 8×8 (standard), 9×9 mm metal “shim” tools. Don’t forget these locks are usually made of die cast aluminum bodies that yield easily to a standard 2 lb lump hammer.
Cheaper laminated snap shut type and some brass body ones can be opened using soda can shims. Not forgetting the simpler solution of a duck-bill wedge and sledgehammer. A noisy solution but highly effective. I carry a spare padlock to replace the one I cut.
Why? Because it delays entry to see what is going on. That could give you the few minutes you need to escape.
Don’t play round trying to disable these. Most are electronic and hardened.
You may be able to shut them down but the alarm may also be hard-wired into a central control office. All you are doing is wasting time by playing with them.
This is why I advocate the 3 minute limit especially in an urban environment.
Bottom line. PPPPP.
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Get in and out quickly.
If there is a shred of doubt in your mind about something not being right,
DON’T CONTINUE, GET OUT, AND MOVE ON.