A Good Criminal Deterrent is Learning to Think Like Thug: Casing, Stalking, and Social Engineering

You are a law-abiding citizen.

You go to work, pay your taxes, and want nothing more than to provide a suitable habitat for your family in a world that, you trust, might exude good fortune from time to time. In other words, the pursuit of happiness is your ‘modus operandi’. Making enemies, or thinking the worst of people, is seldom a subject of concern for you.

Then one day you wake up to find some unknown assailant has slipped into your house to do you harm and steal precious belongings. This wasn’t expected.

‘Why is this happening to me?’, your internal soliloquy queries. There is no good answer.

The truth is the world we dwell in is chaotic and confused. You might have brushed someone the wrong way. Maybe you order too many packages from Amazon and the assailant is a delivery driver who has kept a tidy inventory of the shipments showing up on your doorstep. Perhaps an ex-lover has been stalking you, waiting for a chance to make you pay for his/her hurt feelings.  This is the reality, violent criminals can be anywhere and though crime rates might be low in your area, the minuscule probability of you encountering one has a way of sinking its teeth deep when you least expect it.

Should you be afraid of this reality? No. But an oft quoted axiom has it that ‘an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. You should not hesitate to educate yourself on defense and security.

Let’s back up the chimerical scenario above and assume the dark assailant is someone who has been stalking you for some time. How would he have found your address? The methods are extensive and many. Here are a few:

Casing

The premeditation of a forced entry can involve the ‘casing’ of the target. This simply means the would be criminal has taken steps to survey his target so as to provide sufficient ‘intel’ that thereafter informs his/her tactical process. Your run of the mill ‘thug’ might not do this, but you never know. They might watch for when you leave; when you come home; what cars are usually in the drive-way; if you have a dog or other form of security; etc. These observations will help them decide if you are an easy target. Try to withhold these indicators by any means. Park your cars in the garage, close windows, and don’t flaunt your wealth. Also, make friends with your neighbors. They can serve as an indispensable asset in the event someone has been casing your place (neighbors can be nosy 🙂 )

Stalking

Stalking has evolved. It used to be that a private investigator, ancient shinobi, or what have you, would pursue their targets by tailing (on foot or in vehicle). This method of stalking is still viable, but our digital age has created technological novelties such as gps trackers and smart-phone spyware that afford would be criminals new avenues of exploitation. Take for example of digital novelty the numerous online “background checkers”. For a small fee, these services allow one to look up anyone by phone number or name and gain sensitive information about you. Instant Checkmate, for instance, doles out addresses, phone-numbers, social media accounts, known relatives of the target, and even a map to pinpoint it all. These services are data-troves for social engineers (who are adept at manipulating human psychology for extortion and other purposes) as well as your well-meaning private investigator (who uses these types of services for resolving a client contract). To defend yourself against stalking learn to watch for someone following you, and opt-out from being listed on these background checking services.

Social Engineers

Social engineers are your modern con-men who are versatile in the trade of crime. They know how to talk or act their way into the ‘inner circle’ of sensitive information that reveals who you are and where you live. This isn’t all they do however, but it can be the case that a social engineer has decided to invade your home. The video below should give you a good primer about social engineering. Zip ahead to 17:00 if you want a cinematic rendering of their techniques:

 

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