This lesson is going to cover a basic counter-surveillance technique called a Surveillance Detection Route, otherwise known as an SDR.
Counter-Surveillance is, simply put, the art of preventing people from seeing what you are doing. This can cover techniques as simple as alternating your daily movement patterns to as complex as sweeping your bedroom for electronic listening devices.
This lesson covers a simple technique for detecting if you have a “tail”.
Law Enforcement Officers should always have their “head on a swivel” when they get into their personally owned vehicle (POV) at the end of shift and head home. You never know who you may have pissed off and it’s wise to take measures that prevent someone from following you to your residence. Even if you are not LE, you may have irate exes, stalkers or your spouses PI (LOL!) trying to follow you.
Most often, picking up a tail will be while you are operating a vehicle. The basic concept of an SDR applies while on foot as well, but for this example lets say you have a nice suburban home:
Your normal trip home from the Supermarket is something like this:
Say one day you notice a car follow you out of the parking lot and something starts to “tingle” in your head. Nothing serious enough to call 911 or start driving to the nearest police station, but a “better safe than sorry” sort of thing…
Take a turn. This is when you start your SDR. Which, simply put, is just taking a little trip and seeing who follows you and for how far.
In Narcotics parlance this is sometimes called “squaring the block”. If you see the same vehicle following you turn-for-turn, or if it turns off then re-appears behind you later, assume you are being followed.
Of course, if you think you are being followed by “professionals” they are going to have multiple vehicles following you with communications between them, and maybe even air assets and stationary posts along your known route. One car may turn off while another that was on a parallel street picks you up. But that’s Jason Bourne style $@!# and unlikely to be something the average reader should be concerned about.
However, If for some reason you think this incident requires a bit more caution, you can park in the vicinity of your home, but not right in front of it:
Sit in your car for a bit and look around for anything out of the ordinary. Are there any occupied cars parked on the street? Any people you’ve never noticed before walking the dog, or jogging around the block?
A pair of binoculars in your car can be a handy tool.
You could then get out and walk the sidewalk to the corner and back..or all the way around the block if you are up for some exercise.
What I would warn the reader to avoid is simply using SDR’s as part of their daily habit. I’ve seen a number of people pull SDR’s simply as habit while not really paying attention to if anyone was actually following them. Alternating your daily route as “habit” is fine. An SDR is a highly conscious thing that requires your full alertness and concentration.