How to sneak like a real spy

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So you want to spy on people like a real secret agent?  That’s good.  Being a spy calls for lots of sneaking around. (Of course, this is also true of avoiding chores at home, so I get plenty of practice.)

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When you’re sneaking around after someone and trying not to be seen, we call this surveillance. Surveillance, of course, comes from the French word surveiller, which means hiding behind a fake schnozzola.

Or something like that.

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When you get right down to it, there are two basic kinds of surveillance (leaving out electronic eavesdropping, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms). You can spy on folks without moving (stationary surveillance or stakeout), or you can do it on the move (shadowing or tailing). Let’s cover shadowing first.

Me and my shadow

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The main rule of shadowing is: Don’t get caught. Ideally, you should be like a shadow — always there but never noticed. The key is to blend in with your surroundings, trying to look like everyone else who belongs there.

At a school, dress like a student or teacher.  At a mall, dress like a surly teen.  At a circus, dress like a bozo.  In short, blend in.

Shadowing tips:

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• Not so close, bub: When you’re right on your subject’s heels, not only will he notice you, but you’ll bump into him if he stops short. Better to leave at least a half block between you and the target.

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• Don’t stare: If you gaze at your subject like she’s the last brownie on the plate, she’ll definitely get suspicious. Glance, then look away. It helps if you have a cellphone or something else to pretend to be checking out instead.

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• Use cover: Be prepared to window-shop, or step behind a tree, bus stop shelter, or other cover. You never know when a target will turn around, and you might need to hide in a hurry.

• Disguise is wise: If you’re going to be following a target for an extended period, be sure to bring something to change your appearance from time to time so they don’t get suspicious. A cap, a pair of glasses, a reversible jacket — all these can help fool your subject.

• Bring the bucks: Have bills and change ready, in case your target boards a bus or subway and you need to follow. (Or in case you get hungry and need to hit a vending machine for some M&Ms — crucial for keeping your strength up.)

Of course, tailing a subject is always easier with two people. You can sandwich the target between you — one a half block ahead, one a half block behind — or trade off being the point person.

Break out the stakeout

Sometimes spying on someone involves a bit of sitting around on your duff. Maybe you’re waiting for a contact to show up at a dead drop, or waiting to see who visits the subject’s apartment. That type of surveillance we call a stakeout.

On a stakeout, your biggest problems are the two Bs: boredom and bathroom breaks. You don’t want to miss anything vital, either by inattention or by answering the call of nature. Advance planning can help you handle these (and other) challenges.

• Pick your spot: This is the first key to a good stakeout. Much like a truant officer, you want to see but not be seen. If you can, scout the area before starting the stakeout, searching for a spot that offers cover but lets you watch what’s happening. Good spots: rooftop, restaurant table, parked car. Bad spots: middle of sidewalk, bicycle, dumpster.

• Bring the necessaries: Consider that you may be in place for a long time. You might want to take along snacks, a disguise, binoculars, secret camera, water, and some means of recycling water (empty cup for bathroom breaks).

• Don’t get seen: If there’s a chance your subject might notice your surveillance, be sure to use something to hide behind. Sunglasses and books are handy for this, as is the classic “blind”: a newspaper or magazine with a hole cut in it for viewing. (Note: this last technique doesn’t work so well with iPads.)

And that’s as much about surveillance as my spymaster will allow me to reveal. Happy snooping!

This is Agent X, signing off…

 

24 responses to “How to sneak like a real spy”

  1. Aria

    Awesome info! I’m from o.s.s…if you know what that is…

    Reply
  2. Rowan

    So coOl!!!!! I’ve tried to be a spie before.

    Reply
  3. Rowan

    So cool i’ve tried staekout before but this is highteck

    Reply
    1. Agent x

      Glad to hear it, rowan. Best of luck on your stakeouts!

      Reply
  4. Aria

    OSS stands 4 Oregon Secret agent Service, lol

    Reply
  5. Emily

    I really badly want to be a real spY
    A good one though not the one who does bad things for money

    Reply
  6. jamby jacar

    me too i really want to be a spy even i am a teen girl i want it for too long. can you give me some of instructions how to be a spy? please thank you so much!

    Reply
  7. lily

    Hi I’m new I need a partner. And I really need a secret headcorters I’m siked to be here and I need guidens. Please help. Love agent yellow fox

    Reply
  8. ethan

    i would really love to go to spy school.

    Reply
  9. Crystal skylander

    I have been spying ALOT at home,school,parks,etc. i love spying, its like apar of my life. I have a spy case and gadgets. Mr.hale i loOoove your books. Thank you for intr me to them. Ohhh, can you giVe me a Little mission to do at my house!?!?!? Thanks alot.
    – Crystal⛓⚔☠

    Reply
  10. cool person

    i want to be able to be able to spy on people in my own house. I want to be able to know how to hide in small places, and stuff like that, All the INFORMATION YOU DID GIVE WAS good. thank You!!!!!!!

    Reply

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