Would you know if you were being followed?
Would you know if you were being watched or sized up by a criminal or someone who intends to cause you harm?
As an Average Joe or Jane, probably not. But today I’m going to share some tips on how to determine if you’re being watched or followed. And I’m going to teach you how to deal with this dangerous problem.
The “bad guys” can be quite adept at shadowing a “mark” — and the mark would be you, the unsuspecting individual whom they happen to have selected as their victim.
Experienced law-enforcement officers and agents, as well as intelligence operatives, through many years of training and experience, develop a “third eye” when it comes to detecting a “shadow”.
In its simplest form, a shadow is a person, or persons, who follows and observes you. After years in the field, I have developed numerous techniques to detect, evade and even counter the people who attempt to shadow me.
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Since you’re most likely to pick up a shadow while on foot, I’m going to share a few of my tricks and tactics for dealing with shadows when you’re shopping or out for a walk.
|Is someone watching you? Be aware and be prepared.|
For a start, you should know that if you are on foot, your shadows must move with you if they want to keep good track of you. So they will probably be on foot, too.
Your shadows will want to observe you, but when they observe you, they must create physical behaviors that give them away. These behaviors may be subtle but you can spot them if you pay attention.
Initially criminals usually look you over to size up your value as a victim. They look for the obvious first, such as jewelry and clothing (as this can be an indicator of potential worth — to them anyway). Then they will evaluate your stature and your physical fitness to determine how well you can defend yourself from a mugging or an assault.
So the first danger sign you want to look out for is someone who gives you this “sizing you up look,” which only lasts for a few seconds.
Next, remember criminals try to blend into the environment as best they can. For example, you walk past a sidewalk café and see a man sitting and reading a newspaper. However, once you pass, he drops the paper, gets up and begins walking in the same direction as you’re going.
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That’s an example of a second danger sign: Any sudden change in the status of individuals around you.
Now you cannot get paranoid every time something like this happens because it could just be a coincidence. The man may have really just finished his coffee and he may have really needed to go in the same direction as you. But you should always be aware of what’s happening around you at all times.
Criminals must be aware of their environment, too. So it’s another danger sign when a person or group of people seem to be looking around too much.
If you see someone approaching and they seem to be looking in all directions, they may be scanning for an escape route for after they perpetrate the crime. Of course, they just may be lost.
Check to see if there are other people moving in on you. When there are two or more people acting in concert, they will exchange looks that serve as their unspoken communication to each other. They will also be looking around to see if they are being watched and to spot any police in the area.
If the criminals are amateurs, they will probably try to keep you in direct sight. That is, they will stay within a distance that affords them complete visual contact with you. This should also be quite noticeable to you now that you are aware of it.
Here’s what to do if you suspect that you’re being followed on foot:
Stop and pretend to tie or fix your shoe for a minute and see if the person you believe is following you also stops. Or do they walk on past you?
Pretend you are window-shopping. If you are with another person, you can really ham it up and point at things in the window, all while you are scanning the window, using it as a mirror to see what the watchers are doing.
Stop wherever you are and immediately turn around and keep moving in a new direction. After a short distance, try to covertly determine if that person is still following you.
Change your route. Cross the street, walk for a while then cross the street again, staying always within higher populated areas. If you changed your route and that person is still following you, chances are high that you are being followed.
Here’s what to do if you’ve determined that you’re being shadowed:
Do not confront the individual or individuals you believe are following you. This could be dangerous!
Stay in crowded areas or move toward crowds. Walk into a retail store, restaurant, bar or other business.
Take out your cell phone casually and call 911 as you are walking into a business filled with people.
Alert business employees or other people around you that you’re being followed. Have them call the police, too.
The main theme of all this is to be alert. Maintain awareness while moving about in your daily life. There are criminals and opportunity seekers everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for them.
Starting today, you should change some of your habits that could potentially make it easier for a criminal to target you. To make yourself a harder target, change your routes and routines to make yourself more “unpredictable.” If you are unpredictable, you are less vulnerable and less of a “soft target” for a criminal.
Be smart and employ countermeasures that are appropriate and proportional to the situation at hand. And rely on your own natural instincts to direct your actions.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six and stay safe!
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