Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is There A List?

How Does One Start Preparing for TEOTWAWKI or WTSHTF?

Once you start reading up on the subject of survival it seems there is so much to do, so much to learn. Where to start?

Well, first off you've made a good start, you're here. ;-) Read the past posts bookmark and keep coming back for more as the blog is updated.

You've probably noticed that Preppers and Survivalist sites run the gamut from sites promoting food storage to sites promoting ammo storage.

One of the best boards I've found for survival and preparation information is the TEOTWAWKI board on The Motley Fool.

If you're female and want to skip the how to snare, skin and stir-fry squirrel sites you might want to get started with a site like The Survival Mom which has a list of lists of things you'll want to do or save to get started.

Both men and women will probably feel comfortable visiting the sites listed along the left hand side of the Prepper dot org home page

(Note that some of the sites listed take a more er… stringent view of things than others, but that's part of the beauty of the World Wide Web; if you don't like the site in your state you can check out another state's survival site with just a click of the mouse.)

If you want to get an idea of what life in America's cities might be like if our politicians don't stop spending more money than we have you'll want to read: Surviving in Argentina FerFAL's blog.

And for those who really really want to know how to skin a deer there's always sites like Survivalist Boards Where you'll find helpful hints on everything from planting, caring for and harvesting crops and raising chickens to trapping and skinning beavers.

Just keep reading the blogs, boards and web sites and pretty soon you'll be slinging acronyms like: BOB (Bug Out Bag), BOV (Bug Out Vehicle), AO (Area of Operations), BOL (Bug Out Location), BO (Bug Out) and BI (Bug In) with the best of them.

It all may seem rather daunting at first, but remember you don't have to do everything at once. Just stocking up on the canned food that you normally eat when it's on sale is a good first step. Planning out how you would "Bug Out" if you had to evacuate (and where you'd go) is another good step. Got a "Bug Out Bag" (BOB)? Your BOB can be as simple as a backpack by the back door or as elaborate as my three stage BOB system.

The important thing is to get started even if it's just saving that miniature roll of dental floss your dentist gives you.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vehicle Bug Out Bag Update

As those who have read my earlier blog articles know I've arranged my Bug Out Bag's (BOB) in three stages:
1. EDC (Every Day Carry) minimal items very small easy and convenient to carry about.
2. Vehicle BOB larger and aimed as much at keeping my vehicle on the road as getting me home with or without the vehicle.
3. Home G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Dodge) BOB for getting the heck out of town long term.

In this article I'm going to cover my vehicle BOB as I've recently updated it.

Spurred on by reading some other survival blog somewhere I finally got around to updating my vehicle BOB (Bug Out Bag). Good thing too. I'd been raiding it over the years for "a few ounces of windshield washer fluid" here and a tool or two for a moment or two. It was in pretty sorry shape so I decided to redo the whole thing.

Road Trip
Not too far: to Walmart, Sears and AutoZone. Grabbed gallon jugs of windshield washer fluid and Prestone anti-freeze along with two quarts of oil and one quart of automatic transmission fluid. Also bought smaller size bottles of Prestone power steering fluid, break fluid and radiator stop leak. I added a small multi-purpose funnel too because my old one had somehow disappeared.

While I was at it I added a bottle of "Slime Tire Sealant" (which I've seen demonstrated to work on a local TV news show) and a can of "Ultra Instant Tire Sealer" which I've used (which is why it was no longer in my vehicle BOB).

I kept the roll of duct tape, as it is still in pretty good shape, but bought a new can of WD-40 just to be on the safe side. I also kept the unopened package of J-B Weld. Also splurged on a five piece "Slime Tire Plug Kit" 'cause it was under six bucks.

While I was splurging I plunked down $12.88 for a "Energizer Trailfinder series 3 LED Headlight" with two white LED's and one red LED (to preserve night vision according to the package, but also good for tactical light discipline) which straps around your head like a headband and gives you hands free light where you're looking. It comes with a storage bag and looks so handy I'd better get another 'cause I can see myself raiding the BOB to "borrow" it for other tasks.

As with all electrical gear I tested it out as soon as I got home. Middle of the night fifty miles from the nearest telephone pole is no place to find out that a piece of equipment you're depending on isn't dependable. It works fine. I augmented the three AAA batteries that came with the headband with six more (all tested with my battery checker) batteries packed separately from the headlight in a little plastic container that'll keep'em from jiggling around and contacting each other's ends.

My Walmart had two other LED headlights. One, that the salesman really wanted to sell me for some reason, clipped onto the bill of a baseball cap and looked really neat. But it used two nickel sized and shaped batteries that I reckon might be hard to find in the middle of WTSHTF so I passed on that because we also have lots of devices around the house that use AAA batteries and would more likely have more AAA's around if TEOTWAWKI arrived unannounced. Simplicity of supply.

The other proffered LED headlight had six (6!) LED's Two white, two red and two ultraviolet (supposed to be good for night fishing) which I passed on because of the higher price and I couldn't see me needing ultraviolet.

I'm not very mechanically inclined (in fact I somehow manage to cut myself every time I touch anything sharper than a crescent wrench) so my original BOB tool kit was small and got smaller over the years as I raided it for tools to do this and that.

I've reconstituted it so it now contains a small needle-nosed Vice Grip and large Vice Grip pliers, a pliers & a wrench (both from Sears) that adjust themselves to the size of whatever they're grabbing, a Phillips screwdriver, a pry bar masquerading as a large flat blade screwdriver and a Sears "Dog Bone™" eight in one wrench. All rolled in a piece of canvas. Those tools plus the genuine Leatherman I always carry in the glove box should be capable of performing any repairs I'm capable of performing.

I also repackaged the Jumper cables (the long thick-wired ones not those shorty thin-wired ones like they sell at Walmart) and a long thick tow rope and a short towing strap that'll attach to the towing shackles on my vehicle.

Being a retired surplus dealer I've got an E tool and a bunch of brown (camouflage) Army surplus washcloths which I'm using to stuff between things in the boxes (so as to keep the rattling down) and as towels and mechanic's hand wipes. Also, since they are tufted like towels, they could be stuffed into clothing for insulation (instant field expedient sleeping bag) in a pinch. When I was stationed in Germany in the early 1960's our field pants and parka liners were made of a similar material. Not as good as the stuff they use nowadays, but better than nothing.

Here I should point out that my vehicle BOB is actually three containers; two sturdy cardboard boxes and a gray plastic tub I got from Walmart since I wanted a container that wouldn't leak oil or whatever if one of the containers in it did.

Since I don't plan to be taking anti-freeze, oil or windshield fluid with me if forced to abandon the vehicle I'm not worried about how "man portable" that part of the kit is. If there's time I can always strip out the duct tape, WD-40, JB Weld and tools before abandoning the vehicle.

I chose to keep the vehicle Bug Out "Bag" in the cardboard boxes because the old things are abnormally strong and don't look like there'd anything valuable in them. The gray plastic tub, however, is a different matter. It simply reeks of "something valuable may be in here" so I'm planning to write some off-putting label on it with a broad felt tipped pen. Something that says "there's nothing worth stealing in here" like "Baby clothes" or "Family Photos" or some such.

As stated the gray plastic tub holds the liquids and tools. One of the old cardboard boxes holds the jumper cables, tow rope and tow strap and assorted lengths of 550 cord and some other cordage. Also a windbreaker, baseball cap, bonnie hat and patrol cap.

The cardboard boxes are more of a 72 hour Bug Out Bag. Their primary purpose is to provide the tools and supplies to get me to the home Bug Out Bag.

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Monday, December 21, 2009


The purpose of camouflage is to break up the outline of something so it blends in with the surroundings. Sounds simple, right? Just wear red plaid when in front of a brick wall, gray sweat pants and hoodie in front of concrete walls and green in the jungle.

But what if you move from the brick wall to the concrete wall? The red stands out like a sore thumb in front of gray concrete and vice versa.

Ay, there's the rub as Hamlet would say. Uniform designers have been attempting to come up with a universal camouflage for centenaries. White snow camo won't work in a green jungle but bureaucrats pinching pennies still push for money saving "one camouflage pattern fits all backgrounds" uniforms.

Bureaucrats be damned all camouflage is local!

Let the bureaucrats try to figure out how to make a primarily green uniform blend with buildings and get the clothing that'll blend in with the background in your area of operations.

That'll probably work out to be two groups of clothing. Tans, browns and grays for winter and greens, browns, tans, and grays for summer. Where snow is on the ground white overalls would be necessary. Fortunately painter's overalls are relatively cheap.

When we owned the surplus store the Border Patrol came in one day asking me to order some USMC MARPAT woodland pattern camouflage pants and shirts which they'd finagled a way to get the government to pay for.

They showed me a color picture of four of their guys wearing uniforms of the MARPAT pattern standing in front of a bunch of mesquite bushes. Unless you looked close all you could see was faces and hands.

Of course down along the river there's a lot more mesquite than inland. High plains would probably need more tans and browns. Your area will dictate what color works best for you.

Try not to show the inverted "V" of your legs. Humans are the only animal with that silhouette and people have subconsciously learned to look for it.

Most modern shoulder weapons are effective to three or more hundred yards, but the distance at which the unaided human eye readily sees the enemy is closer to a hundred yards thus the camouflage patterns on most military uniforms is small. The patterns are set at a size to fool enemy soldiers at a hundred yards or less. These smaller camouflage patterns turn into "blobs" of solid color at about 100 yards or more. Larger patterns conceal better at longer distances thus the camouflage patterns on vehicles is usually larger.

Blending in means harmonizing when among other people too; military cammies or even civilian hunting cammies will be out of place downtown. If you don't want to look like a militiaman on shore leave, try wearing regular civilian clothes that match the colors of the animals of your area.

Tans, browns, grays and even a little black work for the animals so why not put them to work for you too. (You'll probably want to add some greens to spice up the mix.) Wearing a mix of earth toned colored pants, shirts, vests, jackets, hats and boots help to break up the human shape thus helping you to blend in with your surroundings.

A few Hawaiian shirts in black, green and brown with large non-bright contrasting green or brown flowers on them work well as a non-obvious urban camouflage. On the one hand aloha shirts are made to be worn with the bottom hem not tucked in which facilitates carrying concealed weapons. On the other hand they are virtually all short sleeved which means your arms will provide moving patches of flesh color to an observer.

Our eyes look, but our brain sees. Researchers studying auto/motorcycle accidents found that motorists were looking at motorcyclists but not seeing motorcyclists because they were expecting other cars and trucks. Turning on motorcycle headlights and having motorcyclists wear bright colored clothing has helped reduce motorcycle accident rates because the human eye/brain sees/notices movement and light.

Camouflaging vehicles.
A white underbelly and underside of wheel wells will reduce the shadows under a vehicle. Painting the corners of the vehicle a different color from the rest breaks up the shape of the vehicle making it hard to "see" when it's not moving.

When parked; earth toned cardboard or canvas can be put over windows to eliminate reflected glare. You'll want to cover running and break lights too. Likewise all chrome should be painted black or you could let the color of the camouflage paint around the chrome "run" into it.

People subconsciously look for the round black doughnuts of tires so painting the sidewalls and hubs a camouflage color removes that cue when the vehicle is still. The camo paint should go across the tire/hub line so as not to just create a doughnut of a different color.

Movement will give you away no matter what you are wearing or driving.

On the road the brain is looking for "vehicle" shapes. In the field the brain is looking for "game" shapes or "man" shapes or "vehicle" shapes. Camouflage breaks up the expected shapes by blending them in with the background and foreground.

Camouflaging Buildings
You can unobtrusively camouflage earth tone colored buildings by painting the corners different colors than the rest of the wall and/or roof. Or maybe a tree planted at the corner would help break up the outline.

Straight lines, squares, rectangles, right angles and perfect circles are almost nonexistent in nature. When you see any of them they're virtually certain to be man made.

Decretive odd shaped doodads at the corners of a building break up the shape of the building into a harder to recognize blobs so the square-ness and/or rectangular-ness don't show from across the valley. Bushes along the wall will help break up the straight line created where the building meets the ground and taller bushes or vines between windows help break up the sameness of the walls.

Black or dark metal screens will help reduce glass glare.

Silhouetting is what happens when you walk over a ridgeline. A dark silhouette of you appears against a light sky to viewers at or below your elevation when the sky becomes your background. All the camouflage in the world won't break up your silhouette then (although it may make you look like a walking bush) so stay off ridge lines as much as possible. If you must cross a ridgeline try to do so in a gulch or ravine which will hide you or among brush or trees which will obscure your silhouette.

Remember, movement attracts the eye and your shadow moves with you. Move very slowly when you are trying to sneak up on something or someone and stay in the shadows as much as possible any time you are trying to stay hidden.

Noise Discipline
If it rattles it tattles. Even a Ghillie suit won't hide you if you clank like a tank. I read of a US Army Ranger whose ambush was ruined when his wristwatch alarm went off just as the "enemy" was entering the kill zone. Fortunately he was a student at the U.S. Army's Ranger School and the "enemy" was fellow students.

Light Discipline
I have seen people signal across a valley with the side of a stainless steel hunting knife. Anything shiny must be covered. Camp well away from the trail; if you must, build small (well shielded) campfires. Looking at a fire destroys your night vision for up to 30 minutes.

The Army issues flashlights with red filters for a reason. Red light not only preserves your night vision it's less visible from a distance. Even so US elite forces prefer to use their red lights (for map reading & first aid) under ponchos.

Scent Discipline
The smell of smoke from that small campfire will give you away to anyone downwind. Take a bath, stinky!


HCF adds this:

There is a whole 'nother kind of camouflage, the kind you use to blend into a crowd. If you want to be another South Austin Hippie, wear a band T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. "He was a big dude, with a beard, wearing an Austin City Limits Festival T-shirt." Yeah, that narrows it down. There are times when you really don't want to stand out of a crowd.

And I replied:

I won't ask what you did to get the cops so interested in you, but that is an interesting problem. How to blend in when in the city? Again there is no universal camouflage; what works in one environment may not in others.

A T-shirt and shorts probably won't blend in too well with the suits in the banking district and vice versa but within the habitat of the South Austin Hippie (ACL Festivalist Maximus?) the T-shirt camouflage is perfect. Searchers are reduced to looking for a red or yellow or whatever colored T-shirt. For that reason dark colored clothing might be better for furtive movement because white/light/bright colors tend to attract the eye.

Clothing that will blend in perfectly in some parts of town tends to stand out in others.

A zebra amongst a herd of horses on the plains of Texas tends to stand out even at the edge of the herd. Likewise a horse in a herd of zebras will stand out against a backdrop of black and white stripes, but less so at the edge of the herd where the horse's natural coloring (browns & tans) tends to blend in more with the surrounding veldt.

Reversible clothing can help by changing the color of the cloth, but not the style of the attire.

How to hide a beard? Wear a burqa?


And jC adds:

Dave, a quick note
I think the best 'hide' stratey is to find some cover and remain motionless.
I walk a trail nerby frequently, sparsly populated by teens drinking, bums, people walking for exercise or exercising their dog. I dont always want to meet these people.

Squat down by some tall weeds or a scrub tree and they will walk right by. Anything that disturbs your shapes make you invisable. Stopping all motion, you look like a rock or a stump. People and animals have no memory.

I havent figured out what to do about steamy breath in the winter, but I have some time to find out now.

Very true, jC!
Staying perfectly still is as much a part of camouflage as face paint, camo clothes and covering shiny objects. In fact you've reminded me of a couple of incidents from my past that I'll be putting in the article (inspired by you) to be uploaded after I "publish" the article I've written on updating my Vehicle Bug Out Bag. I've promised to hold off on publishing that one until December 24th of this year. Let's see, what to title jC's inspired article?

Be Still My Foolish Heart?
The Importance of Being Earnestly Still?

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Most Likely Scenario

What if everything goes to Hell in a hand basket, but the basket remains (more or less) intact?

Isn't that pretty much what happened with the Weimar Republic? Sure the whole affair was pretty much TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) for the German people, but the fabric that held their lives together held (with a few major rips and tears) until another government took over. People had jobs, the trains and trolleys ran and government services staggered along. In other words people coped.

When we look we see pretty much the same thing happening time and again. Major disruptions major changes, but the majority of the population doesn't flee their bungalows in the burbs to go live in a bunker in the bush.

So why is it that we Americans feel an economic collapse would inevitably lead to riots and burning cities with the majority of the population fleeing to the countryside?

I'd like to postulate that it ain't a'gunn'a happen!

I suspect if the U.S. dollar's value continues to plummet people will adapt to the new situations as they occur. As long as the water is on people will want to sleep in their own beds at night even if they have to pile on the blankets to keep warm or eat a meal, cooked on a hibachi, by candlelight. As long as they can flush the toilets they'll stay.

Think of the Great Depression not Mad Max.

I'm going to slant future columns toward the supposition that people pretty much remain in their homes with diminished governmental services.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


I've been basing my planning on the assumption of the phases of Total TEOTWAWKI something like this:

1. Pre Accumulation phase
• Wherein people who prepare (often called "Preppers") store extra amounts of food, water, supplies and medicine during "normal" times.

2. Post Accumulation Phase
• Wherein people who didn't stock up ahead of time make a mad dash for the store. The scenario will be sort of like in the Southeast or North when a hurricane or blizzard is predicted only much worse.
• If civil authority is perceived* to have failed this phase could get violent.
(*Perception is reality, at least insofar as how we react to it.)

3. Hunker down phase
• Wherein "Preppers" and "survivalists" (preppers with guns) hunker in their bunker or hide in their homes.
The prepared ride out the famine and the resulting die off while the unprepared are forced to wander in search of food, water, supplies and medicine.
• Anyone wandering near a bunker is likely to get shot.
• Anyone breaking into a home is likely to get shot.

4. Reemergence phase
• Wherein the survivors emerge into the post TEOTWAWKI world.
• This is the phase when old alliances will be tested and new alliances forged.
• Family groups will be the nexus as clans and tribes are formed which, in turn, will morph into towns, cities and city states.
• Basic services (food, water and shelter/protection) MUST be delivered by these groups or they will wither and disband. That means the group must obtain or maintain food by any means necessary. Yes, back to barbarians at the gates.
• Whatever is left will be salvaged by whoever is left. I expect something like Europe after the Black Plague where empty houses and lands were free for the taking and outlaws roamed the land.

In my estimation there will be two phases in a post TEOTWAWKI world where gold, silver and diamonds would be useful:

• For a short time immediately after the TEOTWAWKI event when people hope/ expect/ wish things will soon get back to normal. During this period people will be willing to trade their food or medicine for gold, silver or diamonds in the expectation that they will have the better of the deal when things get back to normal and a gold coin will again be worth more than a can of beans. (Picture Homer Simpson trading his family's last canned ham for the Hope diamond and then realizing they don't have any food left. "D'oh!")

• During the following famine starving people will not be willing to trade food for any price. When it is realized that many medicines can no longer be manufactured those who need the medicine will hang on to them like life itself. Gold, silver and diamonds will probably not be valued highly in such circumstances.

• During the reorganization phase as clans and tribes form cities and city states. Once order is (more or less) reestablished there will again be a need for money to facilitate trade. Although I very much doubt anyone will be willing to accept fiat paper script again, gold and silver coins will probably serve as money. Diamonds, gold and silver bars would be useful for larger purchases like land.

In summary I expect gold, silver and diamonds to be useful going into and coming out of a post TEOTWAWKI world.

In the middle phase gold and silver coins would be almost as worthless as the government's paper tender which would have value only as tinder.

Food would have value because people have to eat.

Guns & Ammo would have value because although you can't eat guns a guy with a gun can get food from a guy without one.

• How will it play out? Who knows. The history of humankind is tyranny. Will our democratic tradition hold, or will the need for a strong leaders establish tyrants?
• It would be a waste of our time to discuss what we think SHOULD happen since our chances of controlling it are miniscule.
• A more fruitful endeavor, however, might be to discuss ways of setting up the framework now for a better world then.

* Perception IS reality, at least insofar as we react to it.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home Invasion Robbery

(The following advice assumes you are not a drug dealer, pimp or bank robber. In other words a raid on your home would most likely be the result of someone misreading the address.)

"This is the Police!"
"What the heck?"
"Who IS that?"
"Geeze it sounds like they're knocking the door down!"
You look out it's a guy with a baseball cap that says "POLICE" on it.
You've done nothing wrong; this is all a big mistake you'll need to straighten out before they damage your door.
You open the door and some guys rush in and throw you to the floor, but only the one guy has a police hat.

Congratulations! You've just opened the door of your home to home invaders. Prepare to be tied up, robbed, maybe raped and perhaps murdered all in the comfort of your own home. Oh, and your family too.

They won't get much because you've got the good stuff hidden. Right?
Not to worry, they'll torture you and your family until you give it all up.

But, you've got the really good stuff in the safe. Right?
No sweat, they'll torture the combination out of you too.

Do you REALLY think you'll be able to hold out when they torture your family in front of you?

In fact, since they don't know what all you have they'll probably keep torturing you all long after you're being truthful when you cry "We don't have any more!"

Then comes the dangerous part, they have to decide if they want to leave witnesses.

The key to resisting / preventing a home invasion robbery is at the door. Your reaction in the first few moments will decide the outcome.

If you are suspicious don't open the door!

If they have a warrant (and in certain other rare circumstances) the police have a right to force their way into your home, but there are some limitations. Laws vary from state to state but generally warrant service goes something like this:

If the real police are at your door with a No Knock warrant you won't be having any conversations at the door. It'll be just be a KA BLOOM! as the door is smashed in and then you'd be greeting (fill in town name here)'s finest.

The police may under some circumstances be required to announce themselves and wait a specified period of time (measured in seconds) before smashing down the door. Again you won't have a chance to engage them in logical debate about whether or not they are at the correct address.

Those methods of entry are required to prevent suspects from flushing or destroying evidence. But you're not worried about flushing evidence, your concern is protecting your family from home invaders.

Better a busted down door than a busted up family. The door can be replaced (at government expense if you're innocent) but your family can't.

Let's take a look at home invasion modus operandi (Methods of Operation)


This one’s simple the crook simply walks or crawls in through an unsecured door or window.

The defense is just as simple: Keep all doors and windows closed and locked. Bars over windows and/or spiny plants under them (cactus or rosebushes etc.) will discourage entry at those points but doors and windows should be kept locked anyway. Doors should have metal gates or, at a minimum, a peephole.

1.) A (usually female) gang member feigns a minor emergency (distressed motorist needing to make a phone call, etc.) to gain entry. Once the door is opened the rest of the gang, which as been hiding just out of sight, rushes in.

The defense: Call for them, with the door or gate still closed and locked and the person still outside, "Debbie says to tell you her car broke down…" If the person at the number called doesn’t know a "Debbie" it’s an indicator that this is not what it seems to be. Go on alert as you dial 911 and tell "Debbie" you’re calling the cops for help for her. If she’s for real she’ll appreciate your help. If she’s part of a home invasion she’ll suddenly find an excuse to leave in a hurry. Stay on the line with 911 so the cops will have a better chance to catch the gang before they hurt someone.

2.) One or more men more or less dressed like cops pounds on your door demanding immediate entry to serve a (fake) warrant or claiming it’s a raid. These guys seldom have full police uniforms and are more likely to flash fake badges and claim to be detectives.

The defense: Look out your windows before opening the door. Are there uniformed police with marked police cars out there? (If so it’s probably legit.) Or do you see parts of police uniforms and no marked car? Time to get suspicious.

Real police are issued a badge and a commission (small piece of paper that authorizes them to perform police duties. Detectives usually carry their commission in a wallet which they flash with their badge. Uniformed cops keep their commissions in their wallet and seldom show them depending on their badge and uniform to identify them.

Badges are not very good for proving police status.

When I ran a surplus store we sold replica MP (Military Police)* & CID (Criminal Investigation Division) badges that even real MP's and CID agents couldn't tell from the real ones. My policy was that a customer had to prove that s/he was a real MP or CID agent before I’d sell them a badge. (One law enforcement wantabe tried to prove his police status with a star shaped badge that looked like it came from a box of Cracker Jacks. The Cracker Jack logo in the center had been covered with one of those round blue stickers from Chiquita banana! (Chiquita’s logo had been blocked out with a blue felt tip pen.) I was not impressed.) However not all badge retailers asked questions before selling badges and there are a lot of fakes out there.

Realistic police and sheriff badges are sold on the Internet and through the mail from magazine ads. I had wholesale catalogs which offered badges to "prove" I was anything from a Jedi knight to a deputy with the Podunk PD or a fire chief.

*Incredibly after nine eleven the government sold a batch of real MP badges! I bought some of them and applied my regular stringent policy to their sale. I have no idea what policies were applied by the other retailers who bought the rest of the batch.

If you have any doubt about the authenticity of the "cops" at your door call 911 before opening the door and be sure your 'callers' hear you talking to the 911 operator. Real cops will be unfazed crooks will suddenly decide to serve their "warrant" elsewhere.

Forceful Entry:
With this method of home invasion the crook(s) just breaks through a door or window. There may be simultaneous break-ins at several doors and/or windows similar to a real police no-knock raid.

Fortunately for your wallet the defense for this one is the same one that works to defend you and your family and your home from so many other crimes. Iron bars on all windows and metal gates on all doors tell crooks to go away because getting into your house will take time and make noise both of which they don't want. Always remember, crooks don't want witnesses so making them attract attention to themselves at the very beginning of the crime discourages them.

Our last method of Home Invasion comes pretty close to the Follow Home Robbery. The crooks lay in wait near the entrance to your home; either the bushes by the door or near the driveway/ garage. As you exit your vehicle with your hands full of stuff and your mind on what you're planning to do they jump you. Once under control you will be marched into your home.

The defense in this case is particularly important because if you've got metal gated doors and bars on the windows kidnapping a family member with a key is their least obtrusive way in.

First, just as in your defense against Follow Home Robberies you want to check your rearview mirror as you turn into the street where you live. Being followed? DON'T GO HOME! Instead head for one of these places.

Secondly, be alert when pulling into your driveway. Bushes should be cut back leaving crooks no hiding place to lie in wait.

Thirdly, be alert as you pull into your driveway. If you see shadowy figures put the vehicle in reverse and hightail it out of there. Your family will be safe behind locked gates and barred windows while you call the police.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Helps to Know Where You Are

"Of course we all know that the sun rises in the West and sets in the East."
WAIT! If you didn't instantly realize that sentence was written backwards you need a compass.

Of course we all know that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, right? Still not sure? You need a compass. Just to be clear, the sun rises over New York and sets over California. That is to say it rises over NYC and sets over LA if that's easier for you to remember. (OK technically it's not exactly over them, but you know what I mean. That's right the sun really does rise in the East and set in the West, honest.

But what'da ya' need a compass for if, when the balloon goes up, you plan to put the pedal to the medal and zoom straight over the river and through the woods to grandma's house?

Well, in a crisis, if yours isn't one of the first few cars to get over the river you're likely to get stuck on the wrong side of that bridge as the grandmother of all traffic jams develops on said bridge.

There are thousands of scenarios where you could be evicted from your vehicle and forced to hoof it in an emergency. Stumbling along among the ill-prepared hoard with your Bob (Bug-Out-Bag) full of preparations is definitely not where you want to be unless you have enough to "share" with a thousand or so fellow travelers.

And what about the "through the woods" bit? Have you ever tried to determine which way is North whilst in the midst of the deep woods? Hard enough at Noon let alone at Midnight. Yet, if you don't know which way you're going you could be wandering in circles or worse making good time, heading in a straight line -- in the wrong direction.

You don't need an expensive lensatic compass to tell north from south and east from west; a simple Silva type compass or even a Cracker Jack compass will do. Want'a go it alone? Quick, which way is west?

Is the North Star there for you?
Is it? Go outside and find it right now. What? It's daytime so you can't see the stars? Guess you'll have to wait for nightfall to travel unless you have a compass. What if it's night but trees or clouds or fog or smoke are in the way? You'll have to wait for dawn or risk going in the wrong direction unless you have a compass.

In daylight without a compass you'll need to memorize landmarks (mountains) at dawn to guide yourself through the day. If you lose sight of your landmarks you'll have to stop and do the old shadow and stick trick to find your direction.

You and yours are three days late and there's that that nice family of lumberjacks with a compass outside grandma's house offering to help and protect her if she'll let them come live with her. The stores you stored with her will just barely feed her and them. But there are outlaw bikers in the area. What will granny do? Gee won't that be an awkward scene when you finally show up.

It helps to know where you are at all times so you'll know which way to go to get there. A large part of seldom being lost is attitude; the rest is paying attention to landmarks and baselines. A baseline is any prominent immobile feature like a mountain range, road or river.

I am never lost. I am always right here. (Attitude!) The place I'm going to may be misplaced, but I'm not lost, I'm right here. People tend to discount that statement thinking I'm joking. I'm not joking but I've never found a way to communicate what I mean to them so that they grok it instead of chuckling at the joke they think I've made.

(If I can see the sky (angle of the sun & time of day/ stars at night) or prominent landmarks (sun rose here or set there so North is THAT way!) I can figure out where I am in relation to where I want to go. My sense of direction may not be accurate enough to lay in artillery, but only overcast skies or so many trees I can't see the sky can keep me from getting orientated. Once orientated, it’s only a matter of time till I find my baseline and then my destination.

I nearly got lost once when I was out hunting coyotes after work one evening. I looked over my shoulder and saw a bank of very dark clouds had come in from the west over the mountains. The clouds were very low and descending fast. It wouldn’t be long until they’d descended to the point where they’d lose their ‘cloud’ designation and be reclassified as pea soup thick fog.

Once the clouds settled over me it was going to get dark a whole lot sooner than I'd planed. There would be no landmarks, stars or even the fading light of the setting sun to guide me back to my pickup truck. I realized the cloud/fog bank would block out not only the stars but also my view of my primary baseline (the mountains), which ran generally north and south behind my secondary baseline the dirt road I'd parked on which ran the same direction as the mountain range.

Navigating via dead reckoning in an area of the desert I knew, I'd angled south as I walked east calling coyotes so all I had to do to get back to my truck would have been to walk west (back towards my mountain baseline) and then turn right (north) on the first dirt road (my secondary baseline) I came to. Then I'd planed to follow the road back to my truck.

That plan wouldn't work if I couldn't tell which way was west. I was already losing sight of my primary baseline (the mountains) which were my guide to which way was west. I had to get back to that dirt road before the fog bank settled around me. I hot-footed it back towards the mountains and my secondary baseline, the road. I had to trot the last hundred yards on instinct, faith in myself and the old trick of lining up on two or three sand dunes (or bushes or trees) that happened to be in a more-or-less straight line in the direction I wanted to go.

I completed the triangle (southeasterly from my pickup, westerly back towards the mountains, northerly on the road back to my truck) and carried a compass after that even when going to areas I knew well.

You can't get "there" from "here" unless you know where "here" is because you don't know which way to go to get to "there." Still haven't found the North Star? Those outlaw bikers and the lumberjacks are getting closer and Granny is getting impatient.

Bottom line; if you think you might be forced to travel under adverse conditions: get a compass and learn how to use it.

One of my better critics has pointed out that if navigating by compass alone without taking the Angle of Declination into account you'll likely miss a designated point. That is true. However, that goes beyond the intended scope of the article. I was urging you to get a compass so you could navigate into the general area of Granny's bunker. Remember "baselines"? If you want to be more accurate you'd do well to take his advice and learn a bit about map reading and declination diagrams.

This man knows a lot more about compasses, maps and probably orienteering than I do so if you're planning to hoof it into the high hills, swamps or deep forests take his advice seriously and learn a few things about map reading, map orienting and declination.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Follow Home Robberies

In this deteriorating economy we can expect to see a rise in the crime rate as lack of funding for law enforcement, courts and prisons translates into lower arrest rates, fewer convictions and shorter sentences.

Therefore I'm going to start posting a series of Crime Avoidance and Crime Fighting articles here.

This first article will be on Follow Home Robberies; how to detect them, how to avoid them and how to defeat them.

Follow Home Robberies can be the start of Home Invasion Robberies since once they've got you and your keys it's a simple step to take you inside where further robbing, rapes and even murder can be accomplished in the privacy of your own home.

If you're targeted they'll probably be following you home from work. Or the perpetrators may just pick out a "rich" looking person/vehicle as they drive down the road in the evening rush hour. In either case they'll be following you home which gives you an opportunity to detect them before turning into your driveway.

Of course there are always going to be cars behind you during the evening rush hour, but do all of them change lanes when you do? Probably not. There are two easy ways to 'Prove' a tail.

1. Drive the speed limit.
Except in heavy traffic almost everybody speeds. Just by driving at the speed limit you become a 'bump in the road' that everybody wants to pass. Except the guys tailing you. If you slow down and a car continues to stay behind you even though traffic permits him to pass you may have found a tail.

2. Four Turns to turn up a tail.
Another method to detect a tail is to go around the block. If you make four right (or left) turns in a row and the car behind you does too you are being followed.

If you suspect you are being tailed DO NOT GO HOME!
You don't want these guys to know where you live.

Continue driving normally (a high speed chase will likely result in an accident) until you are ready to make your move. You don't want the crooks to know you are on to them. Remember: As long as your vehicle is moving they can't get at you.

As long as they think you are leading them to your home they'll hang back. Stay on well traveled roads to discourage them from running you off the road in an attempt to turn this into a carjacking.

If they bump into you in an attempt to get you to pull over to exchange insurance information; slow but do not stop, open the window and motion for them to follow you, lead them slowly to a well lit populated place.

If you have a working cell phone call 911 they'll probably direct you to a "meet" with one of their patrol cars.

If you don't have a cell phone drive to the nearest police or fire station. Pull into their driveway in such a way that you can drive back out onto the street without having to back up. You don't want whoever is following you to be able to block you in. Whoever's following you will probably peel out when they see you pulling into the station. If they pull over and wait for you to leave and there are no cops or firemen outside stay in your car and honk the horn until someone comes out of the station. It would be nice if you could give them a license number.

If you can't find a police or fire station go to a well lit well populated place like a busy convenience store or shopping mall and call the cops from within the safety of a crowd.

If you fail to pick up the tail before pulling onto your street all is not lost. Make it a habit to check your rearview mirror when turning onto your street. Is there a car turning behind you? Does it belong to someone living there? If not, drive past your house and start following the advice given above. You do not want to pull into your driveway because then they will be able to block you in.

I'm giving you the benefit of my years of experience, study and training here, but I can't be there with you when the chips are down so use your own judgment and common sense in these situations.

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- - - - - - - - - -
Response from jC:
"I like the "pull into a convience store" suggestion. I have known people it worked for. But my story.

When I was in DC years ago, a guy pulled up alongside me and said "you have a flat tire!" So I nodded. My passenger got all upset with impending doom of a flat. But the guy stayed right behind me in the next lane. Lots of traffic. I slid into the slow lane, drove a bit slow and it was not too unusual he was still nearby. So I wonder.

No brakes, no signal, I whipped the wheel into a Motel parking lot. He was unprepared, so drove past. It takes about 15 seconds to look at the tires and get back into the car, on to the road just in time to see him try to circle the block. And plenty of time for me to be long gone.

Did I save myself? Was it really a threat? My minor suspicion is still uncertain. But NOTHING happened."


Hi, jC, I believe you were targeted. The fact that the guy followed you AND circled back coupled with the fact that you didn't have a flat screams evil intention. Good thinking on your part. As you noted, not letting him know you were suspicious gave you the advantage when you decided to make your move.

The "Your tire is low/flat." ploy is a variation on the Bump and Rob tactic. Both are designed to get the victim driver stopped beside the roadway, away from witnesses, where they can be robbed, kidnapped or raped.

Whether the other guy claims you've got a flat or bumps into your vehicle in an attempt to get you to stop to exchange insurance information your response should be the same: whip out your cell phone (or PDA or shoe or anything that looks like a phone) and call 911 as you drive to a well populated place before stopping. The 911 dispatcher may blow you off, but the crook won't know that and the last thing he wants is a cop.

As in most crimes the perpetrator mimics an honest citizen up until the moment s/he strikes. This makes it more difficult to decide how to respond. In the case of a fender bender you have to ask yourself; Is it a legitimate accident or a ploy to get me to stop where there are no witnesses?"

Here you can put your detective skills to work. Who's on the other end of the fender bender; a little old lady or a couple of rough looking dudes? Does your vehicle FEEL like it's running on a flat tire? Is the 'Good Samaritan' sticking around to "help?" Did this incident occur in a place where there are unlikely to be witnesses?

I've seen anti-crime tips which address the Bump and Rob ruse by telling the driver to stop but not get out of the car. They were advised to exchange insurance information through a partially open window. BIG MISTAKE!

As long as you are in a moving car the crook can't get at you. Once you're stopped, unless your car windows are bullet proof, it doesn't matter how far down your windows are; he's got you. Even if he hasn't got a gun, a tire iron or baseball bat gets him into the car and to you.

In the case of a suspicious fender bender just roll the window down far enough to motion for him to follow you. Then drive to a place where there are people (witnesses) to exchange insurance information.

In the case of the alleged flat tire, you'll feel a flat. If you don't feel wobbling you don't have a flat. It's harder to feel a tire with low air pressure, but if you can't feel it that means it's still drivable. It's better to ruin a tire than to ruin your life. If you're suspicious sacrifice the tire; drive to a safe place before stopping.

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Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.