You become forgettable and just another face in the crowd when you look like you’re part of the herd. If you’re on foot and you know ahead of time where the operation will take place, take the time to identify what is worn in the area and choose your attire accordingly. If you’re in a business district, a more conservative and professional look may be appropriate. If you’re at the beach as noted above, a more casual and fun set of clothes will help you look like everyone else out there. Furthermore, choices in color or markings do make a difference. Be sure to select clothing that does not have any recognizable markings. If a target sees a guy with the same Abercrombie and Fitch logo shirt too many times, they’ll notice. Also, stay away from unmuted colors; no hot pink or neon green, please.
Layering can provide you with different looks throughout a foot follow. Layering will also allow you to transition between different environments during a follow. A follow may begin in a business district, so a sport coat or jacket and denim jeans may be appropriate. Moving to a more casual area, an investigator can remove the coat, revealing a white or gray t-shirt underneath paired with the jeans. What about the unused items? A backpack is always handy, but I often use vehicle units that are orbiting the area to divest foot units of unneeded clothing items or provide a change of clothes.
Why are You There?
Being forgettable extends beyond clothing; however, it also extends to why a person is in the target area, especially during static surveillance operations conducted on a particular target location.
“Does that person have a reason to be or belong there?” That girl sitting out there in the hot sun for the past hour hasn’t moved. She doesn’t have a newspaper or a drink. She’s just sitting there in the hot sun with her smartphone. Assess your target location during the planning stage.
A related technique that I’ve found useful is to adopt a persona of those persons that society deems “invisible.” I’ve found that human eyes just seem to naturally slide over things that a person does not want to see or acknowledge. Perhaps it’s a sad commentary on society, but in my experience, no one wishes to acknowledge a homeless person. Perhaps it’s personal shame for not providing assistance, or it’s a perception of danger. Whatever it is, people just seem to deny their existence.
Blending in: Vehicle
Just as you would want to be “just another person in the crowd,” so would you want to be “just another vehicle in traffic.” How exactly does a vehicle blend in? Surveillance vehicles should be a color that is standard on the road. Studies show that white, silver, or beige best fits this requirement. Please don’t be the guy with the candy apple red vehicle. In addition, try to pick a make and model that does not scream, “law enforcement!!!” Hence Impalas, Crown Victorias, and Malibus are out. Instead, pick a vehicle that’s pretty widespread in your area. I know that in my area, silver Ford Focuses are a dime a dozen.
Finally, avoid selecting a vehicle with significant dents, damage, decals, or stickers as such details are noticeable by the target and provide a convenient method to identify your particular vehicle in traffic.
Keep your head down and keep the faith,