Identification of the perpetrators of eco-sabotage should be a
matter of accident. It will happen when you unwittingly stroll
into the view of a CCTV camera, or when an uninvited policeman
joins you when you least expect.
Identification is calculable risk - and like any other risk it
can be reduce or eliminated by proper planning.
When considering the feasibility of your hit, unless you wish
to be a martyr and get caught, you should always consider the
risk of identification. This risk is involves mainly...
- The risk of being seen by somebody on adjacent premises (see
- The risk of being seen/caught by someone on site;
- The risk of being recorded on a security camera;
- The risk of being caught by police/security patrols.
By carrying out proper reconnaissance, and noting the position
of security systems, nearby premises and the hours of occupation
on the site you should be able to minimise the risk. In practice
it is never possible to eliminate the risk because of the unexpected
- mainly the fact that your work will attract the attention of
the police or security personnel.
When carrying out the hit you should consider means of avoiding
visual detection. Camouflage is a good way to avoid distant detection,
but this must be selected carefully. Think about the situation
you are working under...
- Even in the dead of night, especially in/near urban areas,
it is rarely truly black, so black clothing is not appropriate.
Dark shades of blue and grey are better - even in dim light black
will always stand out against a light coloured background;
- In day time it may be better to dress to mislead, ie, dress
as if you belong to avoid being spotted as something 'abnormal'
- for example dressing up as an average workman in jeans, check-shirt
and yellow hard hat;
- If working in countryside areas, or building sites on the
edge of the countryside, khaki and camouflage jackets give the
best protection. If working in the dusk/dark you should also consider
wearing a balaclava, or blacking out your face - you would be
surprised how well white faces stand out in torchlight!
- Sometimes the backdrop is important. If you are working under
floodlights against a pale or white background (the yellow cabs
of construction equipment for example), by wearing black you will
stand out. It may be necessary to take some sort of cape or cloak
made of different coloured material to avoid detection. This may
seem extreme, but many CCTV cameras have a specific focus field
- if you remain some distance away, and present little colour
contrast to the background (especially with black and white cameras)
you may be able to sneak past without the camera getting any clear
image of you.
An alternative, if identification is likely, is to disguise. As
noted above, by dressing as if you 'belong' to the scenario -
e.g. by dressing as a workman carrying out 'routine maintenance'
to the earth moving equipment detection can be avoided. You can
also change your appearance using wigs, by padding your coat to
make you look bigger, or by masking your features using a hat
4.2 Paper trails
Modern electrical systems and banking systems make life very easy.
You can travel anywhere in the world using your credit card, pay
for products by cheque, or use your cards/personal documents (e.g.,
passport/driving licence) as a means of identification to join
clubs. In practice, this leaves a trail of 'paper' - little pieces
of information that show you have been there.
Credit card transactions are logged on computer - as are some
cheque payments. By cross-referencing purchases of certain equipment
with card numbers, certain individuals who, for example bought
bolt-cutters in London during May 1995, can be traced. Then, taking
these numbers, cross-references can be made to your other purchases.
Likewise, whenever you take money from a bank machine, the time,
date and location are stored on a the bank's computer. If you
are suspected of a crime, the police may apply to obtain this
information to prove your whereabouts.
When purchasing equipment you should always use cash - used bank
notes if possible. Using cheques or credit cards generates paper
trails. Also, never use a cheque or credit/debit card when you
are 'in transit' to or from the hit - it will generate a paper
trail locating you to a time and place, and will conflict with
any alibi you invent.
Sometime, somewhere, you are going to be seen. With careful planning
this risk can be minimised on the site of the hit. The problem
is often getting to or from the site without being 'noticed'.
Being seen is one thing - getting 'noticed' as something out of
the ordinary is the problem.
If possible, access the site using a route not directly associated
with the site. Given the choice of a country lane leading to the
site, or a five mile cross-country hike, I would choose the five
mile hike. On the other hand there is safety in numbers - if you
can work your way in and out of a crowd the weight of numbers
prevents people or CCTV cameras from clearly identifying one individual.
Another problem is disguising your transport. Lone cars in country
lay-bys get noticed. Police cars passing unoccupied vehicles will
quite often log the registration to check if the car is stolen
- this registration will then stay in the policeman's note book
for future reference.
As a general rule you must always plan to avoid looking out of
place, strange, or unexpected. As far as is possible, try to look
normal. If you cannot look normal, disguise yourself by hiding
your features, especially hair, beards, colour of eyes, scars
or birthmarks, and most certainly your voice or accent.
Fingerprints, in any classic crime film, are the primary means
of identifying the suspect without doubt. It is because of the
accuracy of fingerprint identification, and the use of modern
computing techniques to identify a single print from thousands
of records, that you must always guard against touching any object
without some form of hand covering.
All your tools must be cleaned before the hit to remove any accidental
fingerprints that might be on them from their last use. Then,
even when you put them back in your stash, you must never handle
them without gloves.
When on the site, for whatever reason, never take your gloves
off. For obvious reasons this means that your gloves must be comfortable
so that you can wear them for a long period of time.
I tend to put my gloves on when entering the site, and take them
off when leaving. Gloves in public, unless it is very cold weather,
Finally, before going to the hit, remove all identifying objects
such as coins, wallets, keys, jewellery, etc., from your body,
and stash them. In fact, unless you will need money on the journey,
it is not a good idea to take any object on the hit with you.
Not only do such objects carry fingerprints, but if you drop them
they will also identify you.
4.5 Biological tracing
Once fingerprints were the only problem. Even blood would only
identify a blood group - which unless it was rare could only indicate
one of a few hundred suspects when correlated with other evidence.
Today, 'genetic fingerprinting' can identify you as an individual
with a probability of mis-identification of about one in one million.
Also, rather than just blood, it is possible to take genetic fingerprints
from all bodily tissues such as skin and hair. For this reason
you must be extra careful when working.
If you scratch yourself you should carry plasters to stop the
blood flow immediately. You should also try and clean the implement
which injured you because it will have traces of blood or skin
on it. If you seriously cut yourself you should stop the bleeding
as best as possible and leave the site immediately. If you have
long hair - that is anything more than a skin head - you should
also wear a hat or balaclava to stop it falling out, or getting
caught on fences or machinery.
Your clothing, even in everyday wear, will pick up minute quantities
of skin and hair which will identify you if it is found. As advised
earlier, it is a good idea to keep your tool stash and your other
equipment/clothing stash separate. At least then if your clothing
is found, there will be no incriminating tools with it to tie
you to any one particular site.
Forensic science is truly awe-inspiring. For example, when you
cut something traces of the metal which the implement was made
of will be left on the object. From these small traces the 'quality'
of the tool can be determined, so narrowing down the possibilities
if tools are found. Likewise, if tools pick up hydraulic fluid,
fuel or lubricating oil whilst being used, the additives and contaminants
in these products can then identify the tool as being used at
a particular site.
'Soft' objects, such as clothes, also pick up contaminants from
their surroundings. This works in two ways. The clothes worn on
the site can pick up traces or dirt and other material that will
remain in the weave of the fabric, sometimes even after you wash
them. This can tie you to the site. Also, if you expose the clothes
to pollutants before you get there - such as the dust or grime
in your home workshop, then any torn fragments of cloth left behind
will identify the places it had been before it was ripped from
the person's body. A good example of forensics are blown safes.
Many safes have a jacket of sawdust to insulate them in fires.
If a criminal blows the safe the sawdust is spread all over their
body. The ratio of different wood types and the grain size can
then match the criminal's clothes to the blown safe.
Another possibility is that you may have prepared some equipment
at home - for example transferring grinding powder from the containers
in which they were purchased to plastic bags. If forensics hoover
your house - and believe me if you are a strong suspect they will
- then they will find traces of the grinding power. Analysis of
the powder and its grain size will then tie that found in your
home to that found in the sump of the destroyed earth-mover. Yet
another good reason to, as much as possible, work at your stash
and not in your home.
You should be aware that it is impossible to eliminate the risk
of detection by forensics, but by using common sense precautions
you can reduce the risk.
As well as indirectly generating paper trails by paying for things,
keeping receipts or invoices will also provide evidence against
you. When you buy things dispose of the receipt immediately. Also,
never dispose of receipts/invoices in your rubbish at home - a
quick sort through by someone will reveal them.
Another problem is getting information on equipment or a site.
Never borrow a library book relating to a specific site or piece
of machinery you wish to hit - a record of the loan may be kept.
If you regularly use public documents to get information on the
site you want to hit, such as planning permissions, avoid giving
your name to the staff at the office concerned. If possible, get
someone unrelated to the hit to get the information.
If you must get something and there is no alternative, never use
a false or assumed identity. At some point you can be assured
that you will be found out. You will just have to use your own
name, and then try and invent a plausible excuse for you being
there and buying or looking at the information concerned.
Finally, never phone the premises you want to hit from home -
the call may be logged by the organisations tapping your phone,
and the call will be logged on your billing account.
4.8 Tip-offs and cold-calls
As 'deep-throat' said in the X-Files, "trust no one".
If you are told one evening that 'X is about to move a crate of
veal calves for export', unless the person is well known to you
take precautions - it may be a set up.
Agent provocateurs have been used for centuries as a way of setting
up groups or individuals for capture. Suspect anyone whom you
know little about, even if they seem to be a keen sabber. There
are plenty of anti-fascists who have taken part in racial attacks
in order to get the information on the fascist organisations.
Eco-saboteur groups, in terms of the approach taken by the security
services, pose not dissimilar problems.
Another problem is people calling you up out of the blue and asking
you questions over the phone. Normally they say they are some
journalist or TV producer, and they want information on 'X'. Never
tell them anything that is not already common public knowledge.
Better still, if you can reasonably get away with it, plead ignorance.
If someone cold-calls, always try and get a name, address and
phone number from them. I usually say that, "I don't know,
but I know a man who does - what's your address?". Also,
when they ring off, immediately dial 1471 to see if their number
is left in the system. Later you can phone back - perhaps at lunchtime
when someone else may answer the phone - and see if they are who
they said they were.
Never reveal any information about your activities to anyone who
questions you directly. However, at some point, you will want
to talk to someone about it - it's human nature. If you work with
others this presents little problem. If you work alone, you must
find someone to confide in. It is important that you get all your
thoughts, fears and excitations about eco-sabbing off your chest.
If someone cold-calls you then any residual fear or boast may
accidentally fall out.
4.9 Hit planning and modus operandi
By using a computer to check the usage of words in this report,
the range of the vocabulary, and any particular 'mannerisms' in
the way I write, the security services could make a pretty good
'psychological profile' about me. What is worse, if they had other
items of my work on file they could cross-check and discover my
identity. Such distinguishing features are very difficult to obscure.
Likewise, the way you plan a hit and carry it out - your 'modus
operandi' - will give you away. For this reason it is important
to vary your working methods. It won't stop you getting caught,
but it might prevent them from pinning so many cases on you.
Always try and vary the subject of you target. Don't just hit
sites with nature conservation implications for example - go for
factories as well. Never use the same techniques from one hit
to the next - for example use a drill on the hydraulic lines of
a digger on one hit, and a saw the next.
By varying your ways of working on the subject of the hit, and
your means of access and exit, you confuse the opposition. By
confusing them you will evade detection and capture for longer,
and more importantly, they may not be able to pin every job you've
ever done on you.