Spy Tricks

Recently, my job has had me doing some spy work.  Not real spy work (obviously), but work that in my creative and over-active brain could pass for spy work.  (A real spy would never say she’s a spy…or would she?  It’s something to think about.)  In DC, one in four people are estimated to be spies…or is that one in four people hold a JD?  Anyway, in my two spy dealings in the last two weeks, I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share in case you find yourself needing some spy advice.  My other qualifications include a fun visit to the Spy Museum with Cosette Z over two years ago, working on the same block as the Uniformed Secret Service (which cracks me up everytime) and being a snoopy big sister.  Clearly I know what I’m talking about here…I’m practically a professional.

Lesson 1: Observing without being noticed.  I spent 1.5 hours watching how security screens cars before entering a secure building (it all comes down to parking, right?).  I sat for 90 minutes out in the open within 20 feet of this operation and not one of them even noticed me.  Here were my tricks:

  • Have a watertight story created in case someone asks, and add extra imagination for added fun.
  • Arrive on foot.  I could have been on my bike, but that would have been too conspicuous.  Drop-offs are even more mysterious.
  • Dress average and plain and do not call attention to yourself.  At 8:00 on a Monday morning, this was pretty easy to do.
  • No earphones and no eating.  You need all your senses in peak condition.
  • Look distracted, but watch out of the corner of your eye.  Don’t be distracted, just look distracted.
  • Write stuff for the hell of it in your notes.  Like drafting your next blog post.  Pretend to be a pensive writer because no one ever messes with them.
  • Suspect everyone as a counterspy.  Sidewalk sweepers, pipe smokers, smokers in ties.  Say hello to people that say hello to you.  Just because you are a spy doesn’t mean you can’t be polite.
  • Find a cool shady spot to sit.  Granite in this town can be found everywhere.
  • As Salsa would say, “Stay alert!”  If the observations are slow, find something similar to observe to keep your mind awake.  And get a good nights sleep the night before because it isn’t always fast paced like it is in the movies.
  • Carry a phone with a timer application, not a stop watch, for ultimate undercover work.  Look texty.  Make sure the phone battery is fully charged.

Lesson 2: Gaining access.  I went to have a look around in a building under construction without permission.  The shell of a building had security people.  I showed my ID and walked in the hard hat area, no questions asked, almost like my ID was psychic paper.  A construction worker walked me around and gave me directions.  Seriously, what kind of operation is this?  Basic tricks:

  • Act like you know where you are going.  Don’t look lost or confused…it’s a dead giveaway if you do.  I typically use this trick to get by most security in lobbies in DC.
  • Do a minor bit of background work, like knowing the future tenant of the building.  Just say you are with them.
  • Dress appropriately and plain.  Again.
  • If you take photos, don’t have the camera sound on.  Duh.  I learned this the hard way.

That’s all I have tonight.  If you have your own tricks, feel free to share them!  DC can be a fun place to live, even with these extra pains.  But, it makes for more of a challenge to try to get your spy work done.  Oh, and one additional note, don’t mess with the Department of Homeland Security because they don’t mess around.  Play it cool.

Advertisements
  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: