2. TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Eco-purists may prefer to wreak havoc using their bare hands and
renewably produced wooden/stone tools. I take the view that to
defeat a technologically advanced opposition, we ourselves must
adopt these technological skills and use them to appropriate ends.
2.1 What do you need tools for?
A tool is a means to aid an outcome. If I want to insert a nail
into wood I use a hammer, not my head. Likewise, if I want to
spike a fuel tank to blow a JCB (less noisy than hammering off
the locked fuel cap) I use a centre-punch. Only Babylon's infernal
machines can bring Babylon down.
So what do you need?...
The first question you must ask is, 'what am I going to do?'.
That will determine the tooling requirements:
- For an easy evening's pleasure you can do an awful lot of
damage with superglue, a hammer, a chisel, and an adjustable wrench.
Alternatively, for more combustible targets, a simple box of matches
may do. These days it is even possible to get pocket sized blow
torches, running on lighter fuel, which will give you up to half
an hour's recreational metalworking;
- For a major hit, you plan in advance, schedule the work within
a strict timed period, and take exactly what tools you need to
achieve the set tasks in the time available.
There are also other considerations. You could easily spend £500
tooling up for some serious sabotage. On the other hand, at a
moment's notice you might have to dump the lot into the nearest
river. You must also expect losses, breakages and damage through
wear and tear. Cost must therefore come into the plan. You could
use second hand tools (so long as you obliterate all identifying
marks), or you could buy cheap tools - but cheap tools, in my
experience, often fail when you need them most (tip: never buy
cheap bolt cutters!!).
You must also consider the amount of trouble you want to get into.
When travelling to or from the hit you could get pulled in for
'going equipped'. For obvious reasons it is better to get pulled
in with just a screwdriver and side-cutters rather than portable
2.2 How to organise your tools
As stated above, tools must be:
- Of a quality fit for the task;
- Unidentifiable in case of loss;
- Disposable in the event of discovery or the need to make a
rapid exit from the scene;
- Surplus to requirements - never use your work tools or tools
you keep at home.
This last point is, I think, the most important. Modern forensic
science can do wondrous things. They could match the hydraulic
fluid on your bolt cutters to that of a wrecked earth-mover. They
could match the manganese/chromium content of your hardened steel
Allen keys to the traces of metal on a removed bolt. More basically,
they can match the imprint of your boots to footprints found on
the scene of the crime.
NEVER - NEVER - NEVER take your used tools home again.
You should find a safe hiding place, well out of the way of the
public but with easy and unsuspicious access, and stash your equipment
there. As well as your tools you should stash clothes, footwear
and gloves. Anything which could connect you to the scene of the
incident - excepting you own body which you must always scrub
clean afterwards - should be stashed.
If possible, and if money permits, keep more than one stash of
equipment. After using tools you should never go back to the stash
site for one to three weeks - perhaps six if the hit caused a
bit of a commotion. Being able to pick and choose your stash,
perhaps having one stash for each area you operate in allows you
to randomise hits/equipment use, and let the 'heat' die down between
Equipment can be stored in a number of ways:
- Just buried in plastic bags;
- Kept in air/water-tight containers, buried or stashed above
- Locked in old garages, derelict buildings or barns;
- Needle in a haystack - keep them where there are lots of tools
You should ensure that they are kept dry, or in oiled rags/canvas
to prevent rust. Chemicals need to be stored in leak proof containers
which will not corrode. Clothes really need to be kept in air/water
tight containers until you can wash them some weeks/months later.
A good tip - never put your eggs in one basket. If possible have
a number of stashes in a small area to minimise losses if any
one stash is discovered.
The key thing when considering tools is to ensure that they are
untraceable. If you must buy tools, always pay in cash. Never
buy mail order tools. If possible, buy them fifty miles from where
you live, using wholesale outlets where possible so that the volume
of trading covers up your small purchases. Never buy in a pattern
- if you buy three bags of fertiliser, a bag of icing sugar and
a box of charcoal, and then a few days later a chemical fire destroys
6 JCBs, it's a bit obvious who did it! Spread your purchases by
location, by product, and if possible by as wide a time gap as
possible. And like tool storage, unless it is unavoidable, never
take really incriminating evidence home ("excuse me sir,
what is an accountant doing with a pocket welding torch and a
pair of heavy duty bolt cutters").
2.3 The basic toolkit
If you just want to make a general nuisance of yourself then I
(to aid you, there is a tooling checklist at the back of the handbook)
1 x 4lb lump hammer|
1 x cold chisel (about 1" width)
1 x adjustable wrench
1 x side cutters
1 x crowbar
3 varied size flat screwdrivers|
3 varied size posidrive screwdrivers
4kg of icing sugar
3 packs of superglue
Grinding powder (optional)
However, a more planned and directed outing may require specialised
tools such as drills, hand held blow torches and solder, oil filter
straps or thread taps. You can actually have a fun night on a
pair of heavy-duty side cutters and centre-punch/screwdriver alone.
As said at the beginning, knowledge of basic engineering/mechanical
principles can make up for lack of tooling. If you don't have
tungsten-carbide powder to put in the sump of an engine, then
sand will do just as well. And even if you only have a spark-plug
spanner, taking out the plugs, dropping in two or three small
bolts/ball bearings and then replacing the plugs will do more
damage than cutting all the cables and fuel lines in sight.
If you build up your stash over time then there are basic items
you need. A factor you must consider is how many of you will be
doing the work. I primarily work alone and so tooling needs are
minimal. Having to wait your turn for the bolt-cutters wastes
time and increases the risk of detection. Where there is more
than one person working multiples of basic tools are essential.
Here is a list to begin with. It is an ideal list - I don't take
everything all the time, although 90% of the time I do take the
basics like cutters, sugar and first-aid kits:
- Clothes: If possible do not return home in the clothes
you worked in. Take spare clothes and washing water/soap, strip
off, wash off any oil, grease or dust, and then stash the used
clothes. Forensic tests can pick out things like hydraulic fluid
even when clothes have been washed;
- Gloves: Not rubber ones like in the films - heavy duty
gloves which won't puncture. If you cut yourself and bleed over
the machine the police can do tests to put your DNA profile on
a national database, and at a later date you might be matched
up with the crime;
- First aid kit: Plaster and bandages, distilled water
and an eyeglass in case you get debris/oil in your eye, burn dressings
and antiseptic wipes;
- Torch: A small torch is useful, but cover it in dark
red acetate/plastic so that it doesn't attract attention or ruin
your night vision;
- Whistle/two-way radio: Only necessary if there is more
than one saboteur, or if there is one saboteur with a look out.
The best laid plans can go awry, so plan a set of hoots/whistles/screams
for when you need to communicate;
- Goggles: Protect your eyes when cutting fuel/hydraulic
lines, hammering, drilling or sawing;
- Heavy-duty side cutters: Hardened steel cutters, with
bolt-cutting action if possible, are best. These are general purpose
and can be used for a number of wrecking operations involving
pipes, cables or fences;
- Adjustable wrench: Carrying lots of spanners is difficult
and noisy. Adjustable spanners/wrenches, Mole grips or utility
pliers solve this problem. If possible, take equipment capable
of fitting a one and a quarter inch nut (the size of many screw
fittings on JCBs/dumper trucks). An additional item, if you will
be dealing with petrol engines, is a plug spanner;
- Small hack-saw: Most cutting work will be done with
side cutters, but when you encounter hardened steel rods or bars
a small saw is necessary;
- Assorted screwdrivers: I take between four to six screwdrivers.
The standard set is a small (3mm blade), medium (5mm blade) and
large (10mm blade) set of posidrive and spade screwdrivers. The
alternative is to buy a set of 'snap-on' tools, where you fit
different sized bits into the screwdriver-body bit holder. These
can also hold other tools too such as allen keys and socket sets.
Unfortunately, in the dark, and with oily hands, changing bits
can be problematic;
- Small hand drill: Most hydraulic lines on caterpillars/JCBs
are reinforced with an armoured, flexible helical sheath. This
makes them difficult to cut. However, a small metal/high speed
steel drill bit, no more than one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter,
can penetrate the sheath quite quickly - unfortunately you'll
have to take a few bits because the drill blunts after five or
- A set of metric/imperial allen keys: Allen keys or
hex-keys are widely used in engineering for screwing in high tensile/hardened
- Sharp/blunt chisel: Chisels have varying uses, from
splitting open hoses (sharp chisel) to puncturing the gauze filters
in petrol and sump filler tubes (blunt chisel);
- 4lb lump hammer: Well, any hammer will do, but a 4lb
lump hammer is a trade off between weight and effective force.
In practice, you don't hammer that much anyway because it makes
too much noise;
- Crowbar: A crowbar is most useful. Apart from just
levering things off or open, its long shaft makes an excellent
'long chisel' for doing damage in restricted spaces. Also, by
holding it by it's pointed end and swinging the round end you
get a good lightweight hammer;
- Superglue: On a small/medium sized building site it
is quite easy to get through three or four 5 gram packs of 'super'
(cyanoacrylate) glue. Superglue works best in small voids or between
close fitting surfaces (e.g., locks, switches and levers). For
larger void spaces (plug sockets, engine carburetters, etc.),
get quick setting epoxy resin - the 'dual tube' sort is best as
it dispenses the correct measures of resin and hardener into the
void and then you use a nail or screw to mix it around;
- Sugar/syrup: About 5kg of icing sugar (icing sugar
dissolves more easily than granulated sugar) stirred into the
average machine diesel tank will carbonise a cylinder head in
a few hours. Assume that 1 kg works on 10-15 gallons of fuel (this
is a bare minimum figure - it works but it'll take longer). Golden
syrup works best in situations where it's not possible to stir
because it liquefies/dissolves faster, but it's a real pain to
- Staple gun: Electric cables do not respond well to
having ten or twenty metal staples shot into them. Heavy duty
upholstery staple guns are best;
- Mastic/sealing resin: This is the stuff that comes
in tubes for sealing around window/door frames. You can also shoot
the foaming variety into alarms/sirens and let it set to ensure
that no one hears if you set them off. Mastic also makes a mess
of engine/compressor air intakes;
- Centre-punch: This is like a chisel, but it has a point.
More effective for puncturing tanks, windows, instrumentation
panels and electrical circuit boards;
- 4-6 feet of plastic pipe: Sort of stuff beer/wine makers
use - but you siphon fuel instead of wine. Alternatively, place
a funnel in one end of the pipe and direct the end of the other
pipe through narrow accesses/pipes to deliver flammable or corrosive
substances to the target;
- Stanley knife: You'd be surprised at the number of
things you need a sharp knife to cut;
- Grinding/polishing powder: You stick about half a pint
in volume (200 grams by weight) into the oil sump of any mechanical
engine. It's not cheap, and sand works as well (so long as you
remove, spike and replace the oil filter), but grinding power
does much more damage because of its hardness.
Much of the above can be bought cheaply as sets through catalogue
stores such as Index or Argos. I get my tools from Argos - this
is because they have a lot of branches, so I don't have to buy
them in my home town, and although the quality of the sets is
not high the tools are good enough for the price you pay and are
not so expensive that dumping them in the canal is not a major
Examples of the sort of deals Argos does are (look in the 'tools'
section of the catalogue):
- Hilka 10 piece plier and wrench and grip set: Comprises 6",
8" and 10" adjustable wrenches and 5", 7"
and 10" locking grip wrenches. Plus 7" combination and
diagonal cutting pliers, 8" long nose pliers and 10"
water pump pliers. Complete with moulded storage case. Cost £14.99;
- Richmond 62 piece combination tool and socket set: Comprises
10 half-inch drive sockets (10-22 mm) with ratchet handle, extension
bar and sliding Tbar, 9 quarter-inch drive sockets (5-13 mm) with
coupler and Tbar, 11 quarter inch bits, 2 spark plug sockets (16
and 21 mm), pliers, crimping tool, multigrip wrench, 6 piece combination
wrench set (8-15 mm), 6-12V tester, 2 spade/2 posidrive screwdrivers,
spark plug gauge, hammer, 8 piece hex key set (1.56 mm) and bag
of terminals. With a sturdy storage/carrying case. Cost £29.99.
- Two tonne trolley jack - only weighs 12 kilos! Cost £22.99;
- Cordless drills - cost £32 to £159;
- Bosch 36 piece drill set - cost £19.99;
- Staple guns - Cost £9.99;
- In the bicycles section - 'Riderz' high security shackle lock
(it says it's for immobilising bikes but it works on other things
too!). Cost £9.99;
- Hilka tool belt (perfect for carrying things around the site
without the hassle of having to carry bags or off-load rucksacks).
The first two items on this list form the major part of a tool
stash for only £45. All you would have to buy in addition
to these would be glue, sugar, grinding powder, bolt cutters,
a couple of chisels and a lump hammer. In fact, even without the
additional items, you could do a lot of damage with these tools.
The following section gives brief information on commonly available
tools, and how to use them in different situations.
There are a few basic types of cutter, working on two basic principles;
shearing cutting edges like scissors, and lever action cutting
edges, normally for cutting heavy duty items like wire or bolts.
Quality and price vary enormously.
Side cutters are the basic tool of any assault on electrical or
mechanical equipment. Light weight cutters will part mains cable
and plastic fuel/pneumatic lines. Heavy duty cutters - with bolt
cutting action if possible - will take out steel cable, metal
fuel/hydraulic lines, and you can snip away at lightweight steel/aluminium
sheets. When all else fails, the pointed end on the cutters will
smash the dials/covers on instrumentation panels too (but a chisel/centre-punch
General cost depends upon quality. Lightweight, cheap cutters
come in at £4 - £5. Average quality cutters suitable
for electrics and thin steel are about £15. High quality,
hardened heavy duty cutters cost £25 upwards.
Figures 3-4: Bolt cutting action side cutters and grip/cutter
Bolt cutters are like side cutters, but an arrangement of cams
and pivots increases the leverage to increase the cutting pressure
applied. The extra complexity also costs more.
Average side cutters will get through fences, but after forty
or fifty snips your arms begin to ache. 12" bolt cutters
(the length of the handle determines the strength of the cut)
will snip through more easily, and they are easier to use because
you use them with two hands. The big version, with 3ft long handles,
will quite easily cut hardened steel bolts/rods a quarter inch
The unfortunate problem is cost. Bolt action side cutters start
around £35 - £40. Fully fledged 12" cutters cost
around £60 - £80. Oversize bolt cutters which could
tackle bolts and hydraulic lines come in at £100 plus.
- Combined pliers and cutters
These are sold with nearly all toolkits. They are pliers with
a small cutting edge near the hinge, and sometimes wire crops
fitted on the hinge pivot. I don't normally use these because
side cutters are better, and purpose made pliers are of more use
for that task too.
These are useful little tools which clamp around pipes. You then
turn the tool around the pipe and a small hardened bit takes a
bit out of the pipe, similar to how a lathe tool works. As it
completes each small cut, you wind in the bit slightly to cut
more metal. After a minute or less the pipe falls in half. Useful
on electrical conduits, water and hydraulic pipes between one
quarter and two inches in diameter.
Cost - basic plumbers' model (made for soft ductile copper pipes)
is about £30. Industrial models used by pipe fitters cost
Figures 5 and 6: Pipe cutter and tin snips
Tin snips are really glorified scissors, used to cut metal sheet.
They look like extra heavy-duty scissors. They are useful to cut
open bonnets, rigid plastic sheeting, canvas, or the corrugated
steel cladding on the outside of modern industrial buildings.
You can also deface lightweight metal/plastic signs by cutting
them in two or more pieces. Prices start around £15.
2.3.2 Spanners/wrenches and pliers
There are a wide variety of spanners on the market; open ended,
ring, adjustable. There are also a wide variety of pliers and
grips which are also useful for gripping and unscrewing nuts and
Spanners come in two measurements - metric and imperial. Most
old/American made equipment uses imperial measurements, but new
equipment or foreign made plant uses metric. The problem is not
so much damaging the nut or bolt involved - it's more likely that
you'll damage you spanner if you use the wrong size.
There are different types of spanner - open ended, ring, and sockets.
Open ended are fairly straightforward to use, but ring spanners
and sockets are generally better because you can put more force
on the nut without stripping the corners off. Sockets are very
useful because rather than have a set of large spanners, you have
one ratchet or T-bar and a set of metric/imperial sockets to fit
it. The problem is that in the dark, with oily hands, they're
easy to drop. But you can also get extension bars and even flexible
torque extensions for sockets - very good if you're doing engine
'maintenance' rather than engine destruction.
You can also get some hybrid types. Box spanners are half way
between a socket and a normal spanner, and are indented for use
on deeply sunk nuts. The most useful box spanner is the 'plug
spanner' which fits spark plugs on petrol engines.
Figures 7, 8, 9 and 10: Open ended spanner, ring spanner,
box spanner and sockets set (with ratched/T-bar and sockets)
Wrenches are basically adjustable spanners. Different types perform
Adjustable pliers are more useful than normal pliers because you
can adjust the size of the jaws to fit the job in hand - they
are particularly useful for undoing the nut fittings on pipework.
Cost - starts around £15.
Figures 11, 12, 13 and 14: Utility pliers, 'Mole' grips, adjustable
spanner and 'Stilson' wrench
Adjustable spanners, which come in a range of sizes, are like
open ended spanners, but a screw fitting allows you to adjust
the open gap. Carrying two or three adjustables is more useful
than a whole set of open ended spanners, and there's no duplication
because they fit imperial and metric. The only problem is that
you can't use as much force on the nut as you can with ring spanners
and socket sets - the same problem as with normal open ended spanners.
Cost - 7" (they are sold by the length of the handle) start
between £5 and £10. 12" and above cost more than
'Mole' grips are a cross between both of the above, with the advantage
that once the gap is set they can be 'locked' on the nut due to
their spring action. The size of the gap is adjusted by a screw
knob in the handle. These are very useful because you can set
them up on a bolt on one side of a panel, and work on the other
side of the panel, and as long the the handle of the grips is
stopped by an obstruction or they are tied off, they will hold
the bolt in place. Prices start around £15-£20, rising
to £35 and above for larger and more expensive versions.
'Stilsons' are the ultimate in adjustable spanners, made especially
for large pipe fitting (2" or 4" and above). They are
horribly expensive, but if you have a 4 foot set of stilsons,
you can move even the tightest nuts on pipework/manifold systems.
Cost £100 plus.
Figure 15: 'Allen'/hex key
'Allen' keys or hex-keys are hexagonal sections of metal bent
into an 'L' shape. Hardened screws or bolts in motors/plant quite
often have hexagonal sockets in their caps. Like spanners, Allen
keys come in metric and imperial sizes. I also highly recommend
Allen keys with a 'ball' end - these are much easier to use for
unscrewing bolts. Cost of Allen keys varies enormously depending
upon their quality. The best are made from high tensile hardened
steel. Sets cost between £7.50 and £25.
Figures 16, 17, 2 and 18: Spade end, posidrive, electrical
and ratchet screwdrivers
2.3.3 Screw drivers
There are two basic types of screwdriver - spade ended and 'posidrive'
(cross) ended. They come in varying sizes from miniature (2mm
wide) through to half an inch or so.
You can also get different designs. Electrical screwdrivers have
plastic insulation running right down to the tip so that you can
touch live wires with them and not electrocute yourself. Like
socket sets you can also get 'ratchet' screwdrivers. These are
quite useful when screwing at arms length because you don't have
to let go - you just rotate your hand either way (the direction
is controlled by a small switch). You can even get screw drivers
with a box end to fit different sockets on - but the usual problem
of changing bits in the dark applies.
Screwdrivers have four basic uses:
As a screwdriver, to screw/unscrew bolts/screws/threaded pins;
- As a chisel (not really good for the screwdriver) to make
holes/gouges in things (in fact the best way to do in an instrument
panel is to push/hammer a long, thin posidrive screwdriver through
each display gauge!);
- If you have a long screwdriver you can use it as a T-bar,
either on a box spanner, or more usefully, you put the shaft of
the screwdriver through a loom of wiring and start turning. As
the wire twists and tightens it either rips the wires apart or
rips them from their fixings;
- Most damaging to the screwdriver, as a lever. Jam the end
under a fixing, some cables, or the lid of a box, and level upwards
- but before long the screwdriver begins to resemble the shape
of a banana.
I'm not aware of drills being used that much in eco-sabotage,
which is a pity, because you can cause tremendous damage with
Drills are either powered or manual. The advent of rechargeable
drills means that you now have the luxury of using a power drill
on locks, electronics, and other sensitive equipment. A power
drill is a power drill - not much to say. The only problem with
rechargeables is that you'll need to charge it before you go out,
which means taking it somewhere to charge, and visiting your stash
twice before the hit. Rechargeables are also expensive for the
half hour or so of drilling they give you. A normal power drill
costs £30 - £50. A 'cordless' drill will cost £100
Figures 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23: Rotary hand drill, brace drill
and power drill, with twist and brace drill bits
I prefer manual drills - they don't run out of juice and they
are quieter. The power drill gives you the advantage of being
able to drill big holes quickly. With a manual drill it's difficult
to drill big holes quickly, but small ones (say, less than 4mm)
are no problem. I normally use a standard 'rotary' drill. Another
option is to use a 'brace and bit'. This tool is more aimed at
drilling large holes in wood - not much good for making holes
in engine blocks, but damn' good for weakening/toppling wooden
telephone/power poles and fence posts. A standard tactic is to
turn the base of the power pole into swiss cheese drilling a dozen
or so holes in it with a brace and bit, and then burn what's left
(it's not a good idea to be around when a live power cable hits
Hand drills start at around £15 - a good brace can cost £30
Selecting the right drill bit is very important. Learning how
to sharpen them is also important since, in order to work quickly,
you may have to use more than five or six bits for each hour's
drilling because the hardened metals of modern earth-moving machinery
blunt them quickly.
Drill bits fall into five categories - wood, metal, high speed
metal, masonry and brace bits. To many people the first three
look very similar - but wood drills are given away by their deeply
grooved thread. Masonry bits have two small hardened 'wings' at
the end to penetrate the material. Brace bits - well, they are
just big, and like wood drills they have a deep thread.
Using a hand drill on metal you have the option of using hardened
or high-speed steel (HSS) bits. HSS bits last longer, but are
more expensive - if you have the money get HSS. Masonry bits also
come in hardened steel and diamond tipped. Brace bits come in
varying sizes and types - a 1" bit is the best for boring
holes in posts and poles.
There are different saws for different jobs. In sabotage you are
most likely to be cutting metals. However, if you are cutting
wood then don't use a 'normal' wood saw. Use a 'bow' saw. Bow
saws don't do as neat a job as carpentry saws, but then again,
you are looking for speed of cut not a master carpenter's matching
edges. Bow saws start around £15. I suggest the smaller non
symmetrical (pointed towards one end) type normally used for pruning
- they are smaller, lightweight, but do the job just the same.
When cutting metals there are two considerations - thickness and
hardness. Hardness is taken care of by using the appropriate blade.
Thickness will determine the type of saw you use. Standard 'junior'
hacksaws won't tackle anything beyond 4mm-6mm of mild steel. For
this reason I always use a small hacksaw - although you may need
to resort to a full size hacksaw for a larger job.
The key thing to remember is to buy five or ten blades. On hard
steel the blades will blunt quickly, and the brittleness of the
high-tensile steel blade means that they break easily.
Hole saws are a hybrid between a drill bit and a saw. They fit
in a power drill (I normally fit them to a brace - works just
as well but a little slower). The drill bit enters the material
to keep an accurate centre, then the circular blade cuts a neat
circle through. They work easily on wood (good for making spy
holes in fences) but metal requires a bit more care. Any sheet
steel thicker than 3mm or aluminium thicker than 5mm - 6mm will
begin to give you problems. But where you have the bonnet of an
earth mover which is locked down and you can't get it off, hole
drills provide an alternative means of access. Prices start at
£5 - £10, and go up.
Figures 24, 25, 26 and 27: Hacksaw and hole saw, flat files,
and cross section of needle files
Files are very useful things, especially on precision engineered
mechanisms. You will be aware of the standard 'flat' file an inch
or so across, but 'needle' files are of much more use. A flat
file can spoil most precision/polished metal objects, but needle
files are more versatile. You can stick them in holes to make
them bigger, or cut small notches to weaken high tensile steel.
The best of all are round files because you can stick these in
the chuck of a power/rotary drill and file away at high speed.
The thickness of round/needle files varies between 2mm - 3mm up
to about 10mm.
Normal flat files, for metalwork, cost a quid or two. Needle files
vary between 50p and a pound - but if you put a needle file in
a drill and bore into an engine block there tends to be not a
lot left when you've finished.
A petrol driven or electric angle grinder, with a high speed metal
cutting disk fitted, is the most fiendish weapon in the arsenal
of any eco-saboteur. I haven't got one, but in my last engineering
job I used them all the time, and I live in hope that one will
fall into my lap. Unfortunately they're bloody noisy things -
with petrol driven ones you don't need to worry about noise from
the engine because as soon as the cutting disk hits the steel
everyone will know you're there anyway. Electric ones make the
same amount of racket too. The only way to prevent it is to damp
the object using earth, rags or weights - but it'll still make
some noise, mainly from the cutting disc itself.
Figure 28: Typical angle grinder
Angle grinders are also expensive (pleasure is never cheap!) -
£200 for a petrol driven one, £80 - £100 for a
good electric one. You can even get rechargeable 'cordless' ones
but they're not much good. The disks are also expensive, perhaps
£10 - £20 for the highest grade, diamond encrusted ceramic
blade for cutting steel, but with one of these things you could
cut through a 6" square, half-inch steel box girder in a
few minutes - at least as fast as you could cut with an oxyacetylene
torch. If you mean business - get an angle grinder.
Chainsaws are expensive, heavy, and difficult to use in stressed
circumstances. However, if you want to do some mass fence post
felling, it's really the only way to do it. One trick I saw a
landscape gardener use was to bolt the exhaust from a garden mower
onto the exhaust outlet - this reduced the noise output by 90%.
Even so, at a cost of £200-£300, it's not the sort of
thing you want to throw away when escaping.
Chainsaws will also cut thin metals - car and van bodies for example
(earth movers tend to be made from a heavier gauge steel so it
would be rather dangerous to try it on these). This give some
interesting ideas for anti car actions - and perhaps an alternative
to just scratching the paint!
Chisels are useful things - you can make holes in things, split
things apart, shear things off, and if bored, you can carve letters
into the bonnet of the nearest offensive sports car (bevelled
chisels are best for carving).
Chisels come in varying sizes and types. Most standard chisels
are wood use oriented, but their sharp edges make them useful
for puncturing plastic pipes, hammering through circuit boards
and instrument panels, or with care you can cut metal sheet in
half if the edge is sharp enough. Wood chisels are either square
(standard shape) or have bevelled edges for angled work. Sizes
vary between a few millimetres and an inch or two. Costs vary
between a few pounds to £15. You can even get 'U' shaped
chisels - call gouges (mainly use for wood turning) - which are
good for chopping lumps out of things.
'Cold' chisels are primarily for stone work, although their basic
strength (as a short pointy iron bar) make them ideal for panel
beating and other such work. The one illustrated below has a plastic
handle so you don't bash your hand, but at times this can get
in the way. Sizes vary between a quarter of an inch to one or
two inches - prices between £2 and £10. Cold chisels
are particularly good for punching dents into sheets of metal,
smashing locks, catches, pipe fixings, glass, instrument panels,
circuit boards, and any delicate equipment which doesn't react
well to sudden shocks.
Figures 29, 30, 31 and 32: 'Bevelled' chisel, cold chisel
(with plastic handle), standard chisel and bolster
Bolsters are wide chisels with long thin edges, primarily intended
for stonemasonry, splitting bricks, etc. However, if you have
six or seven of them, sledge-hammered into the base of a brick
wall over the space of two or three metres, you can topple it.
They're also good for prying spot welds apart, but it ruins the
edge doing so. Costs vary between £5 and £15.
Splitting wedges are wedge shaped lumps of steel, 3-6 inches wide,
6-8 inches long, and perhaps 1 - 2 inches thick at the widest
part of the wedge. They are primarily intended for splitting logs
and tree trunks by progressively hammering them into the wood
with a sledgehammer; but they also work well on walls, masonry,
locks, doors and hinges, and anything weakly bonded/stuck together
that you would like to part.
A centre punch is a small steel bar, flat at one end where you
hit it, and pointed at the other where it does the damage. Centre
punches are really useful ways of piercing metal sheets, fouling
up locks, and punching holes in die-cast aluminium/cast iron or
plastic boxes such as gearboxes, cylinder heads, pump housings
and electrical junction boxes. Costs and sizes vary - expect to
pay between 50p and £5.
Figure 33: Steel centre punch
'Automatic' centre punches are slightly different. Within the
body of the punch is a spring loaded spike. You push the end of
the implement against the surface of something, and when the spring
loaded bar is nearly all the way in a trigger releases and drives
the metal spike into the surface - the pressure with which it
does this is normally adjustable. These punches are normally used
to mark things before drilling or engraving.
The best sab-use for centre punches is breaking unbreakable 'toughened'
safety glass - but wear a mask and/or goggles to protect yourself
against splinters. They can also be used on computer screens (this
is actually rather dangerous), instrument panels and metal cans
(if you puncture a petrol can or fuel line the small hole ensures
a low leakage rate, and hence a time delay for initiating a fire).
For a good automatic punch expect to pay between £10 and
These implements can do a lot of damage in the right hands. Pick
axes are good for making holes in walls and concrete. Axes are
best used for making holes in fences, cutting cables and modifying
sheet metalwork. I consider their use limited though because they
make an awful lot of noise, and they weigh a lot.
If you have a problem with underground pipes, then pick-axes can
solve them for you. Likewise, axes are a good way of finding buried
cable in walls, or splitting wiring conduits.
Hammers can do a lot of damage - but in doing so you make a lot
of noise, which is a bit of a problem when security is tight.
There are ways around this - you can damp the noise of the hammer
by wrapping it in canvas or rags, but the thing you are hitting,
if it is remotely hollow, will still resonate uncontrollably.
There are different types of hammer, the main difference being
the weight of the head - this affects the energy the hammer imparts
to the object:
- A claw hammer is the traditional view of a hammer, and is
used widely in construction, but unless you are nailing things
up it has little use. The head normally weighs between 1 and 2
pounds giving you very little oomph. You can pay between £10
and £30 for a good claw hammer - always go for the metal
shaft in this line of business because wooden ones have a tendency
to break, making the hammer end fly off and stove-in yours or
someone else's head.
- The next step up is a lump hammer. These vary in weight -
I find a 4lb hammer a good trade-off between carrying weight and
effective oomph. Again, get a metal shaft if you can. Prices of
lump hammers vary, but expect to pay between £15 and £40
depending upon the weight.
- Sledge hammers are large size versions of lump hammers, used
over-arm rather than one handed. Weights vary between 8lb and
30lb, depending on how much damage you want to do. Expect to pay
£15 - £50 for a good one.
Finally, bars. There are three types of bar commonly used in construction.
- The first is a steel bar, up to 6 feet in length, weighing
10lb to 20lb, looking like a giant sized cold chisel. This is
used for general destruction, making holes, and levering things
up - they are widely used on the railway by track gangs (if you
happen across a railway friend). They are difficult to buy, and
can cost £60-£80 new.
- The last two are related. The standard sized crowbar is about
3 feet long, bent into a half-circle at one end. Both ends are
beaten into spades to allow levering of attached objects, and
the circle end spade is forked to allow for pulling out nails/screws
rather like a claw hammer. The smaller relative of the crowbar
- the jemmy - is only about 10" to 1 foot long. It is used
for more precise levering - they are very useful on electrical
equipment or for working in small spaces.
Both crowbars and jemmys are, in my toolkit, standard issue. With
a little practice you can prize things open, a quick back hand
using the rounded end as a hammer head dents or smashes most levers,
switches and instrumentation, and by holding the rounded end and
stabbing with the spade end you can punch holes in control panels,
lightweight sheet steel, and using this method will easily dislodge
A crowbar will set you back between £5 and £20. A jemmy
normally goes at tool sales for £2 to £5.
Figures 34, 35, 36 and 37: Lump hammer, claw hammer, sledge
hammer and crowbar
2.3.8 Specialised tools - jacks, taps, staple-guns etc.
There are a variety of 'non-standard' items which lend themselves
to use in specific situations. These mostly involve the application
of large amounts for force, or causing maximum hassle for the
Staple guns are relatively cheap at £20-£30. The ammunition
is even cheaper, 200-300 staples for £1-£2. An upholstery
staple gun is what you really need rather than the office type
- they are more sturdy, pack a bigger punch, and the heavy-duty
staples you load into them give a higher penetration power.
The main use for a staple gun is firing metal into electrical
cables. This can be a dangerous activity if the cables are live,
so you should invest £5-£10 in a 'live wire detector'
(available at most good DIY stores). You run the detector over
the wires, and if the unit doesn't give out an alarm signal you
should be okay. But beware - live wire detectors can have problems
with DC current, their response being the variation in the magnetic
field in an AC current.
My favourite use is on the coaxial cables used in radio transmitters
and receivers. The voltage level is generally not high, and if
you fire a few staples in every few metres up the antenna mast
you'll be sure to take out the system. Transmitters are probably
the best target as the shorting effect can blow the expensive
output transistors. An example of a target is the gross looking
cellphone towers which are springing up all over the country.
Figures 38, 39, 40 and 41: Staple gun, 'Stanley'knife, filling
knife and pointing trowel
The point here is, what can't you do with a Stanley knife. Because
the blades are retractable they are the perfect in-the-pocket
tool - the only problem being if you get stopped by the police
who don't take kindly to concealed Stanley knives. Expect to pay
between £5 and £10 for a good one with spare blades.
So what can you use them for?:
- Improving paintwork;
- Printed circuit boards - sharp knives are excellent for sabotaging
circuit boards, especially those with fine wire tracks such as
computers. Carefully disassemble the object and gain access to
the back of the circuit board where the tracks are. Gently make
fine cuts on small tracks here and there, where they won't be
noticed. Then reassemble, and let them figure out what's wrong;
- Rubber chopping - slashing tyres, or carefully removing panes
of glass from locked earth movers by cutting the rubber seal surrounding
the window pane to gain access to the controls (quieter than breaking
the glass, but time consuming);
- Plastic/rubber hoses - with a little effort these are easily
- Electric cables - it's not a good idea to cut right through
because it damages the blade. However, if you bare some of the
metal conductors (make sure the wires are not live) and tie them
together with some more bare wire and hide your work, when the
system is turned on you can blow out the wiring/fuses;
- Advertisement boards - if you cut reasonable sized triangles
into the paper posters, and then get a filling knife or pointing
trowel underneath the edges of the paper triangle, the paper,
and the offensive advert, peels off really easily.
Sometimes, only large amounts of force will do - why graffiti
a Portakabin when you can tip it over? Jacks an winches perform
The average mechanical car jack can develop 2 - 3 tonnes of lifting
force - enough to raise a variety of structures and small vehicles.
By lifting then propping, building a higher platform for the jack,
lifting then propping, a Portakabin could be toppled in five or
six lifts, a car/van in two or three. If you have access to a
hydraulic jack, they can develop 5-10 tonnes of force.
That is of course if you use the jack to just life objects. By
baring off between two surfaces - for example between a concrete
foundation and a generator or chiller machine - you can strip
the object off its mounting studs, or break it into pieces trying.
Winches are also useful - you can move/drag heavy objects, or
rip them from their fixings. By tying a cable to the bottom of
a Portakabin and then winding/levering in the line, you could
drag it from it's original position into a hole, over a quarry
face or, by fixing to the far bottom side and pulling over the
top of its roof, just turn it over. You could also lash up to
an object - the jib of a crane for example, and pull it over.
The classic winching system is the standard 'block and tackle'.
This is a device which uses pulleys to multiply the force applied
to the rope. The rope is coiled around one or two pulleys, so
each rope will be bearing the same force as the rope being pulled
- but this force is multiplied by the number of strands threaded
between the object and the fixing point or post. A rope coiled
once over a pulley and fixed to a point will double the applied
force. Three stands will triple it, etc. The illustration below
shows how this is done.
Figure 42: Block and tackle
Small pulleys are available from any hardware store - cost between
£2 and £10. The heavy duty type block has to be ordered
specially and costs a lot of money. You can also buy mechanical
winches which have a drum of wire, and a gearing mechanism to
increase the power or the manual or engine drive. Finally, there
are chain-winches which utilised a teethed ratchet mechanism to
tighten chains. These are really useful, but expensive.
Mechanical car jacks are cheap, and normally are easy to come
by from parts or scrap dealers. High power hydraulic jacks are
likely to cost you £50-£60 from the same sources. Winches
tend to be more of a problem. A basic block and tackle can be
bought for under £50 - mechanical winches, especially the
sort that use chains, are harder to come by (I know, I've tried).
The best advice I can give before undertaking such activities
is to read a mechanics/physics book, and understand the vector
components of tension/compression forces - that way things will
work better for you.
Figure 43: Rope winch
Finally, if you don't have a winch to hand, don't worry. The alternative
is to get a long piece of rope or cable. Sling the rope around
the object you want to move, and the other end around a fixed
point (a post, stump, or something heavier than the object you
want to pull). Tie the ends together to form a tight loop of rope/cable
between the two objects. Insert a bar or thick wooden post between
the two lines of rope, roughly half way between the two objects,
and start turning it around and around, twisting the ropes together.
As you continue to turn, the ropes/cable will tighten, dragging
the two objects together. But beware - if you let go of the bar
or post it will start spinning and could injure you. Likewise,
if the ropes or cables become so tightly wound that they are beyond
the breaking strain of the ropes, the whole set-up up could snap
and come hurtling towards you!
No - not the water sort. A tap is a small metal rod which scours
a thread in a hole so that you can screw in a bolt. Mostly people
think of how to break into things - well, what about making sure
nobody gets in?
For example, take a door on an earth mover. Rather than trying
to break it open, why not make sure no-one opens it? The door
will shut up against the frame of the cab. If you drill holes
of the right size through the door, into the cab frame, and then
tap these holes to take a screw bolt, you can bolt the door shut.
To make certain nobody unbolts it it's better to countersink the
bolts, put superglue on the bolt before you screw it in, and always
use an allen key bolt so that you can drill out the hex socket
when you've finished.
It's best if you practice this sort of thing - the skill would
be taught in any basic college evening course on metalwork. The
diagram above shows two taps, and the T-bars which they fit into.
A basic set of taps will set you back £15 - £40.
Another option is to thread a solid steel rod and screw it into
something to provide an obstruction. This is done by fitting a
die into the T-bar with the round hole, and then screwing it along
the bar or pipe to make the thread. You then drill and tap a hole
at the object, end, then screw the bar into it. A set of dies
will set you back £15 - £40.
Figures 44 and 45: Tap/die set, and a chain wrench
Chain wrenches are useful for unscrewing large pipes. They are
normally used by professional pipe fitters, and are expensive
things to buy. You can actually lash up something similar using
an iron bar and a bike chain.
Another thing you can use them for is removing the big oil filters
from earth movers.
A very useful tool for use in neatly breaking windows. Glass cutting
tools are commonly available for a few pounds. It is essentially
a steel bar with diamond teeth (by scraping the diamond across
a sheet of glass to create a weakness in the brittle surface).
When stress is applied to the glass (e.g., your boot) the glass
breaks along this line. Straight lines are best - it is very difficult
to cut curves in glass.
When laying new pipes, contractors often fit little rubber bungs
with a screw key. As the key is turned, the bung expands against
the walls of the pipe and tightly blocks it. There is no reason
why you couldn't do the same.
For example, go to the head office of McNasty plc and find their
sewer outlet. Stick in the right size of bung, and for good measure,
back fill the open end of the pipe and part of the man-hole cover
with concrete. The illustration below shows how you can make bungs
from commonly available parts.
Alternatively, find a supply pipe to a plant - water or gas for
example - glue, solder or weld it shut, and then backfill the
hole with concrete.
Figure 52: Home-made pipe bungs
- Blow torches & welding equipment
Today there is a new range of miniature blow-torches available.
If you want to do lots of damage then the traditional blow torch
the size of a bucket is needed, but miniature blow torches work
as well in certain instances. Also, a 'micro-gas torch', running
on lighter fuel (butane) will only cost you about £7 - £12,
burns at approx. 1,300 degrees Celsius, and runs for 30 minutes
on one tank full of gas.
Figure 46: Miniature blow torch
There are basically six things you can do with a miniature gas
- Soldering: A nice way to gum up the workings of levers, valves
or metals doors is to just solder them up using plumbers solder.
You first must prepare the metal surface by getting rid of paint/rust
using a wire brush and sandpaper, and then de-grease using a rag
dampened with methylated spirits or some other solvent. Then you
just solder up the joint - solder with its own flux cores works
- Melting: If you have aluminium, lead or brass metal involved,
if you concentrate the burner on one small area, assuming the
object itself is not too large, you can melt and fuse the metal.
You can also melt plastics, but with a burner as hot as this you
are more likely to set fire to it.
- Bending: Steel bars may not melt using the burner, but it
you heat them at one point they may become soft enough to bend
- Cutting: Thin aluminium sheet, rigid plastic sheet (e.g.,
perspex), ropes and electrical wiring can all be burnt and cut
using a micro-torch.
- Scorching: This is mainly for plastics and paintwork. You
simply do graffiti using the burner on paintwork (e.g., the bonnet
of a car), perspex/plastic sheet, or the plastic covering on metal
- Destruction: This nearly always entails destroying your gas
torch. Simply light the torch and place/tape it so that the burner
heats up a small gas canister (it won't work on the large propane/butane
bottles, but lighter fuel type cans are fine), a fuel tank or
fuel line... and then run away.
Fully fledged welding equipment can also prove useful, but it
requires more skill to use, and its immense weight causes transport
problems. Also, with arc welding equipment, you need a hefty power
source. All in all, miniature blow torches perform better when
considering the hassle you get in using the full sized equipment.
2.3.9 Glue/abrasives, paints and chemicals
When silence is of the greatest importance, or tools are not available,
there are alternatives. Glues, glue sprays, paint and abrasive
powders can cause as much hassle and destruction as any monkey
wrench - and in the case of abrasive powders possibly much more.
The thing to be aware of is that certain types of glue are suited
only to certain situations - such knowledge comes best through
'on the job' training.
There are various types of glue available. For sab work only the
following are of any relevance...
Standard equipment - comes in 5 gram tubes for about £2.
Enough to do 10 or 20 locks if you are careful, but will completely
snag up an engine carburettor if you pour the whole tube down
the air intake.
The drawback with cyanoacrylate is that it will only fill small
holes (e.g., Yale locks) effectively, and if you don't pump enough
in then there are solvents available that will soften and dissolve
Terribly smelly stuff to use, but it is the most effective means
to fill a large hole, pipe or gap. Epoxy resin normally comes
in two tubes - the filler and the hardener. You must mix the correct
proportions of these together, and then stuff it into the gap
you want to fill. A chemical reaction then hardens the mixture
- which has the practical benefit that if you loaded some into
a syringe (without the needle in order to give you a large nozzle)
you can use it as a mini-mastic gun and fill pipes/locks. Cost
is around £2-£3 for 25g.
To fill a pipe you simply drill a small hole in the pipe (only
works on pipes less than 1 inch diameter, which are empty or not
under pressure) and fire in the epoxy. Epoxy, because it is a
chemically set glue, has the benefit that it is less prone to
attack by solvents than is cyanoacrylate.
A recent advance is the twin tube dispenser. What you get is essentially
a double barrelled syringe. When you press the plunger the correct
quantities of filler and hardener are dispensed. You then just
mix them together. The twin-tube also has the benefit that you
can fire the stuff into a large lock or padlock, and then mix
in-situ using a small nail or screw (but it's better if they are
mixed thoroughly before putting inside the lock). Cost is around
£3 for 25g.
- Anaerobic adhesives - 'Threadlock'/'Retainer'
This is a type of glue which requires no air to set. The benefit
is that you can unscrew nuts/bolts, cover them in threadlock,
and them screw them back. They then will never be moved again.
This is normally sold by electrical hobbyist stores, prices ranging
between £4 for 50g up to £8 for 500g. In effect it's
like having a giant bag of epoxy, for less cost, but this material
is designed specifically for filling large spaces such as enclosure
Examples of use would be modifying some delicate electrical equipment
and then filling the box with potting compound. Another use would
be pouring into electric motors, generators, or a confined space
which encloses moving parts.
To use, get your bag, split the seal in the middle allowing the
two halves of the bag to mix, then, when it begins to warm (an
indication that it's setting) you cut a hole in the bag and pour
into the receptacle.
Figure 47: Mastic gun
There are various types of mastic gun, and mastic syringe. The
best sort are the adhesive sealants, or the tar/bitumen based
damp sealants. Mastic tends not to set very quickly, so its best
use is really just to 'gum up' the works. However, it has the
advantage that it comes in large tubes for very little cost (about
£2-£5 per 250ml tube), and the gun fitting means you
can pump large quantities very quickly though small holes using
the nozzle attachment.
If you clean a tube afterwards (best to clean are bitumen tubes
because this is more or less solvent in petrol) you can replace
the original filling with grease, paint, shit, custard, etc.,
and use the tube again (how's that for recycling). Also, if you
use lubricating grease, but you mix it thoroughly with sand or
grinding powder before you fill the tube, it makes the perfect
suspension medium for dispersing abrasive substances in precision
engineered equipment - e.g., gearboxes.
Examples of use would be firing gunge into electric motors, gearboxes,
locks, electrical equipment, carburettors, pipes and valves.
Abrasive substances are primarily intended for damaging any precision
engineered joint or gear - hence they are perfect for injecting
into the sump of an engine, a gearbox, or the bearings of an electric
motor or generator.
The main types of abrasive are 'tungsten-carbide' powder, or 'silicon-carbide',
more commonly known as Carborundum powder. The powders come in
different sizes, from lumpy 500 or 1000 grade (looks rather like
sand), to the most insidious engine destroyer, 4000 grade (dust
like). One cupful is enough to work away on a small engine (the
size of an average family car) but on the giant sized earth movers
you will need at least a pint (by volume, 200 grams by weight).
However, many larger engines are not instantly susceptible to
grinding power. The oil filter will take out some of the powder
before it has chance to take real effect. The oil filter then
clogs, and the increase in oil pressure alerts the user that there
is something wrong. Therefore, to be certain that you get your
target, you should consider carefully removing the oil filter
(if this is possible without losing the contents of the sump),
poke holes in the filter paper using a screwdriver or sharpened
spike, and then replace it. To do this you will need a special
'filter strap' available from any mechanics shop for £5-£10.
If you don't have grinding powder, or you run out halfway through
a job, you may have to resort to what's around you. On building
sites there is normally plenty of sand around - this makes an
acceptable substitute, but will almost certainly clog the filter.
Again, a few cups is sufficient. If you just want to hassle people,
without the need to mess around with oil filters, then just fill
the whole engine casing with sand until you can get no more in.
Getting grinding powder or sand into the sump of an engine, gearbox,
or the bearing of an motor is not easy - generally you have to
suspend it in another medium to form a slurry. You then inject
or pour the slurry in. Almost certainly you will have to break
or remove the filter gauze on the oil filler cap, but it you have
a good enough injection system - for example a mastic gun with
four feet of thin flexible tube on the end of the nozzle - you
just remove the dip-stick, insert the tubing as far as possible,
and pump away.
If you are just going to fill the oil sump with sand, just break
the filter gauze on the filler spout with a blunt chisel or screwdriver,
and then use a cut-off funnel or a cone made from a rolled up
sheet of paper to fill. You will more than likely have to use
the screwdriver or chisel as a ram-rod to get the stuff down.
Another option, that best lends itself to glass or perspex, is
sandpaper. You simply get some sandpaper and a sanding block,
and sand the glass - giving it a nice translucent frosting in
Finally, even large lumps of metal can be employed not so much
as abrasives, but in shot-blasting mode. This is best employed
on the cylinder block of petrol engines - remove the spark plug
using a plug spanner, insert a couple of small steel ball-bearings
(the sort kids play with), replace the plug and make it look as
if no one had been there. When the engine is started up, within
thirty seconds (if the spark plugs last that long!), the cylinder
valves and piston are effectively pummelled into a new shape.
Figure 48: Getting abrasives into a sump
Paint is traditionally used in graffiti - but it has other uses.
For example, when poured into small holes/locks or precision moving
parts, it makes a very good, if weak, glue, and at much less cost
per unit volume.
There are also other uses. Get a polythene freezer bag, about
15cm - 20cm square. Fill the bag with paint. Close off the bag
with a knot or wire tie. You now have an effective paint bomb
to lob at your target.
Another option is to thin the paint (with water or thinners, as
directed on the tin) and use a bicycle pump as a paint gun. With
practice you can write quite legibly on billboards or buildings.
There are also other 'speciality' paints. The best example of
this is 'electrically conductive' paint, normally silver based.
This works to best effect on radio antennae which are plastic
coated. If you paint the antenna in conductive paint, and then
earth the paint to the nearest metal object using a piece of wire,
the antenna will neither transmit nor receive (but in practice
it's cheaper, but less subtle, just to snap the thing off anyway!).
Alternatively, conductive paint sprayed under pressure into delicate
electrical equipment is a quick and effective way to write-off
the item concerned.
Fundamentally, I have a problem with using chemicals - they tend
to be difficult to store and carry, and if not used with care
could easily injure someone later.
In practice the only chemicals I use are acids. As with conductive
paint, weak acid sprayed inside equipment can cause great damage
- although I always mark the object afterward - "acid poured
inside - take precaution against exposure".
It can be difficult getting hold of concentrated acids - although
some art materials shops sell strong nitric acid for etching plates.
I use ferric chloride, a weak acid, but one which is cheap and
widely available from electrical hobbyist shops. You can buy a
pint of acid, or the crystals to dissolve to make the acid, for
about £5. Poured into any electrical equipment, electrical
motors, etc., it causes large amounts of corrosion in a short
period of time.
The other option for chemical use is paint stripper. You can do
quite interesting graffiti using paint stripper on buildings.
Paint stripper will also attack any lacquered or resinous board
- printed circuit boards in electrical equipment for example.
Again, you should always label items you have covered in paint
stripper so that those discovering your work do not harm themselves.
Never forget that on any construction site there is a good supply
of concentrated sulphuric acid - in the car/lorry batteries that
are part of the engine. Removing these is not much of a problem
- all you have to do then is unplug the cell caps and up end the
battery over the nearest piece of delicate electrical equipment
- the alternator on an engine or generator for example. But be
careful - this stuff will burn you if you get it on your skin
or clothes. It's also a good idea to leave a note that the item
concerned has had acid poured all over it incase those discovering
your work hurt themselves.
2.4 Ropes and ladders
There are two sides to using ropes and ladders - gaining access
and doing damage. At some point in doing sabotage, you are going
to need ropes and ladders. If you have climbing experience you
can scale buildings, or abseil down into quarries. I tend not
to do this as it restricts your avenues of escape.
The most likely use of ropes for the average sab will be scaling
walls and fences. Presented with a perimeter fence I prefer to
cut my way through rather than go over. If you are crossing a
fence, especially one topped with barbed/razor wire, then you
should take a piece of old carpet to put over the top to prevent
getting caught up on the wire.
Ladders are a problem on sab outings - they're not exactly the
sort of thing you can carry inconspicuously. The alternative is
to take a rope ladder, like those used by cavers, as it rolls
away into your rucksack.
Before using ropes to scale things you should get some experience
first - through your local mountaineering club for example.
In terms of doing damage, ropes can be most effective - as described
earlier in relation to the 'rope winch'. If you can get hold of
a block and tackle - even better. Ropes are also useful for scaling
scaffolding, and then pulling it over.
2.5 Preparing/storing your tools
As stated earlier, unless it is unavoidable, you should never
take your tools home - stash them elsewhere. If the police come
calling and they find your tools, a quick forensic examination
will trace you to your last little escapade.
This presents problems of how to store them. The best thing I
can recommend are old ammunition cases, purchasable from your
local army surplus shop. They are near waterproof, and strong
enough (with lockable lids) to take the beatings when being buried,
dug up, or slung over the nearest hedge when making a hasty escape.
If these are not available, you should use some form of watertight
container - a plastic tub or biscuit tin, etc. Another option
is to wrap your tools in oily rags, but they will still corrode
When getting tools for sab work, never buy anything unique - it's
more easily traceable. Buy average, mass produced equipment, not
the local hardware stores' own brand. If using old tools, remove
any identifying marks before using them. Most importantly, never
get tools by mail order, and never pay for them by cheque or credit
card - all 'easy to pay' types of money are traceable, cash isn't.
A good source of old tools are second hand shops, car boot sales
and village shows. Buying tools here makes them untraceable.
I rarely grab my tools and run for the hit site - a few days before
I check them, do any repairs, oil/sharpen if necessary, and finally
give them all a good clean to get rid of any accidental fingerprints
- then next time I touch them I'll be wearing gloves.
Rather than take everything, your scoping of the hit as part of
the planning process should tell you exactly what you will need.
If possible, rather than taking two similar tools, take one -
e.g., why take light and heavy duty cutters when heavy duty will
An essential consideration is what you will carry your tools in.
I have a tool belt, with small loops and flaps fixed by studs,
which I insert everything in. It suits me as I work alone, but
when working in groups you will need a bag. Also, where there
is more than one person, elect one person to keep a check and
the tool bag to ensure that nothing is left behind. With my tool
belt, if there is a gap then I know something's missing. Things
like containers, glue or sockets for socket sets go in coat pockets
Glue, paint, powder etc. should be removed from any wrapping materials
- never dispose of this material at home!! If the police raid
they will go through your rubbish too! Where possible, remove
any identifying marks from the containers. If this is not possible
repack the material in containers that have no markings (this
is generally not possible for glue, so I try to buy glue in plastic/glass
containers with peel off/soak off paper labels.
You should always take containers away with you - apart from the
precaution against accidental fingerprints, it's not wise to actually
hand the police evidence. Again, never dispose of used containers
in places where they might be associated with you.
As with everything else, your carrying bag/belt should be bought
specifically - don't use any of your old rucksacks just in case
you have to dump it. Fabric does not render up good fingerprints,
so handling is less of a problem, but anything plastic coated
or metal will - so beware.
2.6 Health and safety
One thing must be made clear - this work is dangerous. For example,
if you were smoking and you accidentally cut a fuel line, you
go up in flames (so no smoking on the job!). If you are standing
under the jib of an earth mover and you cut the hydraulic line
to the ram supporting the jib, it will collapse on top of you
(you will either be trapped till you are freed, or squashed!).
This illustrates just a few of the problems.
To ensure your safety you be aware of a few simple things....
Where possible, wear goggles. The main danger is getting hydraulic
fluid or fuel in your eyes. Also, when drilling or hammering,
it is quite easy to get things in your eyes. If you wear glasses
it provides some protection - but not as much as a proper pair
of safety goggles.
Don't wear lightweight gloves - tough gardening gloves should
be considered a minimum. You will be handling sharp objects which
can cut or stab you. Small cuts may not seem serious, but from
even the smallest cut they may be able to find traces of blood
- and that means they'll potentially have a genetic fingerprint
of you. Good gloves to wear are industrial gloves with tough woven
materials, or motorcycle gloves.C. Footwear:
Select as necessary. It's generally not a good idea to sab in
sandals!. Boots should be considered a bare minimum. Toe capped
boots are better. Wellingtons offer some protection, more especially
if you have to wade through mud or water, but they can be easily
pierced by sharp objects and they're difficult to run in. If possible,
get Wellingtons which conform to safety-shoe regulations.
Additionally, if you have to wear your boots for any other purpose
than sabbing, you should cover them with a big sock, or tie a
sack around each foot - this prevents you leaving footprints behind.
If the ground is so hard you won't leave footprints, or you keep
your boots in your tool stash, this precaution won't be necessary.
If you are welding, burning or using a blow torch, you gloves
need to be heat resistant, and must not melt (ie, no PVC or plastic).
If possible, nothing loose fitting. Loose fitting clothes will
snag on objects, leaving fragments behind for the police to trace.
It also means that you will be more likely to get caught up on
barbed wire. I prefer jeans and a close fitting anorak. You should
try to ensure that all parts of your body are covered - you risk
cutting yourself if bits of your skin are exposed. If you are
going to be setting fire to things, try and make sure that what
you are wearing is as non-flammable as possible - cotton based
textiles are better than nylon.
If you are going into a quarry, or if you are
going to be toppling things/working inside buildings, wear a hard
hat. It is always a good idea to wear something on your head anyway
so that you don't leave traces of hair behind you. I prefer a
wide brimmed bush hat. It hides my hippy locks, and its wide brim
enables me to tilt my head and cover my face if someone is looking
F. Cutting operations:
The main thing to beware of when cutting, especially wires under
tension, is that the thing won't spring back in your face.
G. Drilling operations:
If you are drilling you should wear goggles. Precautions need
to be taken when drilling pipes containing fluid under pressure.
It's generally not a good idea to drill a pipe full of liquid
using a power drill - when you penetrate the pipe you will spray
its contents everywhere. Also, if the pipe contains fuel/gas the
heat/sparks from the power drill could ignite it. When drilling
pipes under pressure you should thread a wooden flange onto the
drill bit first, and then drill the pipe. This way, if the pipe
sprays, it won't spray over you - it hits the flange and drips
Figure 49: Drilling pipes under pressure
H. Cutting/drilling hydraulic lines and cables:
You must always ensure that any hydraulic lines you cut are not
going to release the pressure which is holding what you or your
associates are standing on or under. For example, on a JCB there
are flexible pipes running from the body on to the digger arm.
If the arm is suspended in mid air, and you cut the pipe, it will
come crashing down. If you are uncertain either trace the pipe
to see which hydraulic ram it connects to, or don't cut it.
Cables under tension also pose hazards. If you cut the cable on
a crane, you could drop the jib. The other main hazard is that
as you cut the cable, the end will fly back and hit the person
standing a few feet away.
When using chemicals wear clothing and goggles to ensure that
they don't splash on your skin. If you get some on you find some
water and wash it off straight away. If you get some in your eyes
get some clean water and wash it out immediately - then get off
the site and seek medical help.
When setting fire to things - especially where fuel or gas is
involved - take precautions to ensure that you are nowhere nearby
when the thing goes up. Gas and petrol fumes can flow across the
ground, so that even if you are not standing too close you can
get a flash as the vapour ignites which will burn you. There are
two simple ways to set fire to something; lob a petrol bomb at
it or use a time delay incendiary device.
This potentially poses the most serious hazard. If you cut a live
mains cable, it's 50:50 if it'll earth through you or not. If
it does you are going to get hurt. At home the 240 volt supply
can give you quite a kick. On industrial sites the voltages involved
can be 415 volts or higher. If you start messing with electricity
substations or power line poles you are talking a minimum of 11,000
volts - this will kill you.
On most mobile equipment such as earth movers the voltages involved
are low - 12v to 50v. The problem is stationary equipment - if
connected to the mains you could be in trouble. You should consider
investing in a live wire detector, available from most DIY shops.
This will signal if the wire you are about to cut is carrying
an alternating main current (AC). However, the detectors have
problems picking up direct current (DC) which you sometimes find
on industrial premises. If you are unsure - don't cut.
Never climb on anything which may give way on you, topple over,
or which you do not have an easy standing position on. You should
always have both hands free when working - never get into the
situation of balancing, relying on one hand hold, or having to
stretch to cut or drill - you may fall. Also beware of standing
on the mobile parts of equipment - the arm or jib of an earth
mover for example, when you are cutting pipes or cables - the
whole thing may crash away below you.
L. Ignition sources:
An average machine has electrical cable and fuel lines in proximity
to one another. If you cut live electric cables, and you have
cut or are about to cut the fuel lines, and later the electric
cables touch the body of the equipment or each other to create
a spark, you might suddenly find that you are engulfed in flames.
Unless you are certain that the electric is off or isolated (to
isolate the electricity just remove the source by chopping through
the mains or battery cables first) then don't cut both electrical
and fuel cables in close proximity to one another.
Chemicals can also be flammable. Lead-acid batteries, if you remove
the cell caps, briefly give off flammable vapour - if you are
smoking when you do this the battery might blow up in your face.
Likewise, the vapour from solvents, paints and fuel can all evaporate,
move, and be ignited by sparks, bright lights or matches/cigarettes.
You should always ensure that your work does not create a fire
hazard (unless you are deliberately torching something) which
will endanger you, those with you, or those who might discover
M. First aid kit:
You should always take some form of first aid kit - at least a
few plasters and a bottle of clean water. If you don't use it
on site then you should wash your hands with the water straight
after leaving the site. A first aid kit is important - you should
have plasters and antiseptic wipes to clean wounds. Remember,
it you bleed everywhere, apart from the obvious health impact,
they're going to have material to get a genetic finger print of
The most important thing to take with you in terms of health
and safety is common sense - never do anything unless you've thought
about the implications of that action first!