7: Counter Surveillance Measures Everyone Should Use

Actionable advice for when you think you're being watched
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What Are Counter Surveillance Measures?

Counter surveillance measures (also called surveillance detection) are attempts to determine whether someone is watching you, and hopefully identify them. 

It is essential to be aware of whether other people are surveilling you. They may do it for various reasons.  Regardless of the reason, all are likely to be nefarious.

Violent criminals often surveil their victims before an attack. It’s no different than an animal on the prowl, which sheds light on the predatory nature of those crimes.

Rely on Your Instincts

Do not ignore “gut feelings” that tell you to leave a date, meeting, area, etc. It’s nature’s way of telling you something is off. It’s not up to you to prove Mother Nature wrong. No meeting is worth being hurt over. Check out Gavin de Becker’s classic book, The Gift of Fear, for more information about tapping into your instincts.

It can be easier to detect surveillance in a rural area or small town. Outsiders stick out in rural areas and areas you may move to in the event of an SHTF situation.

Knowing how to move so that you are not watched or walk into a dangerous situation is important.  Understanding how to move will help you get to your vacation home, bug out location (BOL), or just meeting a friend without being compromised.

Be Boring

First things first, one of the easiest counter surveillance measures is to BORE the people who may be watching you. Bored people will not want to continue watching you.

People watch you for two reasons. They think you might be up to something interesting or that you will lead them to a gold mine.

Therefore, whenever possible make every single day boring to watch.  If you do, they will eventually lose interest because they will believe that you simply aren’t worth the time. Surveillance is tedious and boring and requires a lot of discipline, which most opportunists lack.

The Danger Zones

Departure points and arrival points are the most dangerous locations along any route. In other words, these are the two most predictable locations. Those watching you may not know your route, but it’s a lot easier to find out when you are leaving and where you are going.

Vary the times you come and go. Change up your routes. By doing so, you will make it harder for anyone trying to watch you. Know your terrain so that you can take evasive action if needed.

Blend into Your Environment

Think about your clothes and vehicle.

Don’t wear a suit if you’re going to the country because you will be easy to identify. Likewise, don’t look like a Bass Pro Shop model if you’re meeting someone in a major city. Blending in with your environment will change based on your environment.

Some of the tactics of being the gray man can help you present a non-interesting appearance. By not doing anything that makes you stand out from the crowd, you’ll be the boring target you hope to be and more difficult to spot in a group.

Avoid taking the same route every day.

Counter Surveillance Measures for Detecting a Tail

Drive a pre-planned route that closely mimics your daily stop (Home, Coffee, Work, Gym, Groceries, Home), for instance. Doing so allows you time to take counter surveillance measures: stop, get out, assess whether any vehicles are falling in behind you. 

TEDD (Time, Environment, Demeanor, Distance)

T.E.D.D. stands for:

  • Time
  • Environment
  • Distance
  • Demeanor

If you see the same person at different times, in various locations that are spread out, assume they’re following you.

How Do You Get There?

Use different forms of transportation. Drive a car one day. The next day use a truck. Then jump on a bus. Another day, hop on a bike.

Keep anyone watching you guessing and off-balance.

You’ve Arrived!

Remember the two most dangerous points? Your arrival point is one of them.

Surveil (watch) the area, person, place, or thing before making contact. You never know who or what is waiting for you. There’s no need to rush into a dangerous situation.

When it’s possible, drive in one way and out another. Mix it up!

Call 911

If you feel like someone is following you, whether you’re in a car or on foot, call 911 and find a crowded, well-lit place. Predators are less likely to take action in front of a bunch of witnesses.

Know What’s Going On.

Proper counter surveillance includes knowing where you are (I’m heading Northbound on I-5, passing exit 67). Know what the car following you is doing and what it looks like.  What is the color, make, and model? Be able to describe the person’s physical features and actions.

Drive safely.

Never run red lights or drive recklessly like they do in the movies. You are putting yourself and others at risk. Use common sense. Don’t hurt yourself in the process.

The Bottom Line on Counter Surveillance Measures

If you believe that someone is following you, do not panic.

Execute your plan and since you know your terrain, go to a safe place. That could be a police station, bank, or a public area with a crowd.


Stay safe, 



Additional Information & Resources:

M4S006: Surveillance with Tristan Flannery Pt1

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