Surveillance Detection Fundamentals
Surveillance Planning Cycle
Criminals use surveillance to choose a time and place to conduct a crime. The target can be an individual or building. Surveillance against individuals seeks to gain information about the potential victim, such as residential security, modes of travel, routes and times of travel, typical behavior and the targets general security awareness.
Surveillance against facilities seeks to gain information on the general security posture, security Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s), information on security forces, physical security weaknesses, and reaction times to emergencies. If you suspect you are under surveillance, move directly to a secure location and report details to local law enforcement. You should report any suspicious individuals near your home or office with detailed descriptions to local law enforcement.
Through vigilance, you may be able to recognize preparations for a crime before it is executed. Here are the seven (7) phases of the criminal planning cycle:
► Phase 1: Broad Target Selection - Criminal gangs often collect information on numerous targets to evaluate their potential in terms of symbolic value, financial gain, or public attention.
► Phase 2: Intelligence and Surveillance - Vulnerable targets able to meet objectives are selected for additional intelligence gathering and surveillance. This effort may occur quickly or over years depending upon the target and planning information needed. For example, bank robbers will seek to gather detailed information on guard forces, physical layout, personnel routines, and standard operating procedures.
► Phase 3: Specific Target Selection - Specific targets are identified based on anticipated effects, publicity, consistency with overall objectives, and costs versus benefits of the crime.
► Phase 4: Pre-Operational Surveillance and Planning - Criminals may conduct additional surveillance to confirm previous information and gain additional details. During this stage, criminals will select assault method, obtain weapons and equipment, recruit specialized team members and design escape routes.
► Phase 5: Rehearsals - Criminal gangs often rehearse the scenario to confirm planning assumptions, enhance tactics, and practice escape routes. They may also trigger an incident at the target site to test the reaction of security personnel and first responders.
► Phase 6: Actions on the Objective - Criminals choose to execute attacks when conditions favor success with the lowest risk. Factors they consider include surprise, choice of time and place, use of diversionary tactics and ways to impede response measures.
► Phase 7: Escape and Exploitation - Escape routes are carefully planned and rehearsed. Criminal gangs may exploit successful operations by releasing pre-developed clues to the press.
Lesson 2.2 – Detecting Surveillance
Detecting surveillance is key to helping you not to become a victim of a crime. As seen in the criminal planning cycle, criminal gangs have an inherent weakness if they are conducting surveillance. If detection is made during the planning stages, it may be possible to prevent or deter the crime all together. However, if that is not possible, detection at any stage will make the crime more difficult to conduct. If you suspect surveillance, report it immediately to local law enforcement. Learn your environment, be alert, and look for signs of what is called “correlation of movement.” Here are a few examples of surveillance:
► People loitering in the same area without a legitimate reason.
► People paying too much attention to you or a specific building, to include taking pictures, making notes, or drawing sketches.
► Look for signs that normal patterns are violated: vendors in areas without customers, utility workers without proper equipment, and people at bus stops who don't depart on buses.
► You see the same person at different locations at different times: such as if you see the same person near your residence at 8:00 am on one day and then see the same person near your office at 9:00 am on a different day.
One time – you take note of the person
Two times – possible coincidence
Three times – probably following you, take evasion action
► Vehicles that keep appearing.
► Electronic audio or video devices in unusual places.
Methods of surveillance include:
♦ technical surveillance
♦ static surveillance
♦ moving surveillance
♦ casual questioning to obtain sensitive information
Surveillance may be conducted over a long period of time and employ any one of the methods mentioned above. When planning an operation, criminals use surveillance teams that we will call Hostile Surveillance Teams (HST). Here is a brief overview of how the HST conducts each type of surveillance:
♦ Stationary surveillance: a common method in which operatives observe from a fixed location. During fixed surveillance, the HST remains stationary to observe the activities of a particular subject or location. Locations where the HST may set up to observe activities include vacant buildings, residences across the street from the subject, kiosks, park benches or other innocuous spots. The number of locations is only limited by the imagination of the criminal organization. Often, fixed surveillance is conducted by the HST in the area around the subject’s residence or place of work, two areas where a subject is very predictable. The use of paid informants is another valuable means of collecting information.
♦ Moving surveillance: when conducting moving surveillance, the HST follows the subject on foot or by any number or types of vehicles. Moving surveillance can be as simple as one person following on foot, or as complex as 10 vehicles of different makes, models and years that follow a subject so that the subject cannot detect that he or she is being watched. For example, vehicle A will follow the subject first for a period of time; then, vehicle A stops following the subject and allows vehicle B to pick up surveillance on the subject and so forth. HSTs use this tactic to avoid creating suspicion. Although most people travel from one location to another in a vehicle, the occasion may arise where they choose to walk to a nearby location with their family or friends. When you are walking, the HST can still use moving surveillance.
♦ Technical surveillance: uses electronic means to record or gain access to security information. With today’s technological advances, high-tech surveillance can take many forms. There are numerous types of equipment that the HST can use to eavesdrop on conversations, record movements, monitor computer keystrokes and so forth. The types of devices consist of listening and covert recording devices, digital cameras/camcorders and computer software that can be installed to document every keystroke made on a personal or laptop computer. These are usually employed against specific targets by groups in advance of an operation but passive receptors can pick up your WiFi signal, the RFI on your credit cards, the electronic code for your car locks or garage door opener and may be employed by criminals against targets.
♦ Cyber surveillance: takes various forms but could be as simple as monitoring your social media posts and checking the GPS location of photos that you post. Be mindful of phishing and spear-phishing attempts on your e-mail. Keep your OS and Adobe updated (turn on auto-update).
♦ Combination surveillance: HSTs combine fixed, mobile and high-tech surveillance to gather information on a subject. An HST operative may be near your residence watching as you depart for work. Two blocks down the street, an HST is in a vehicle waiting for you to go by and uses a tracking device planted on the vehicle to follow you. Many criminal gangs have the manpower and money to use this mode of surveillance.
♦ Casual questioning: this is the most simple method used to elicit security information from approachable personnel, but often it is also the most effective.