Have you Been Followed? All About OODA..
There will be those of you out there with the right experience that will immediately recognise OODA. There will be many more that don't. This is a rough, basic guide for you to be inspired by, research more into it or just use and hone your skills. With many testifying that they thought they were followed home, or diverted because they were being followed, we thought an introduction to basic AST would be beneficial.
O.O.D.A. is an Anti Surviellance Technique. Used by Armed Forces, Police and Security is it a basic tool to ensure you are aware if/when you are being followed and what you can do about it. It can be used on foot, car, or motorcycle - so if you are not familiar with OODA, maybe you should get to know one another - might be useful to you one day, though we hope not!
If you are one of those people that like to 'People Watch' you are likely half way there, if you wander around with your head in your phone - then pull out those buds and listen!
Look around you. Look at people. Watch their mannerisms, how they act, move and so on. Look for people out of place, acting out of place and people not dressed for the occasion or climate. Watch for what they do, where they look, what they are holding if they are standing naturally or rigid and on edge or hiding something. If they are acting natural but doing something unnatural. A homeless man scavenging from bins would have no reason to keep glancing at you. Remember it, practise.
Look at vehicles, memorise them. Types, colour, makes and even drivers. Remember them. If you can recall anything particular, even a car with dents, dirty windows or the pizza sign on the roof - these are good triggers for recall. If in traffic, recall who is behind and what they look like, look back into traffic for other bikes. Again look for anything out of place, someone following everything you do - they may just be following your filtering, but keep an eye on them just in case. Look ahead - check side roads for waiting bikes or cars that may threaten you - look at the riders, drivers and so on. Remember them.
On your Commute to work, you often recognise cars, people driving them you see daily. Look for what is out of the usual pattern. Different cars or bikes, people that don't look like they should be there.
It may sound over the top- but observancy is what will prevent you from now only being followed, but your bag or phone from being snatched as you walk out of work or a shop. It will always make sure you have the edge, even in a high adrenalin situation. If you are ever a victim of crime in your lifetime, these skills will be invaluable - even just being able to recall what someone was wearing accuarately. Hopefully, you will never need them....
Use it as a game when you are bored - whatever you choose, just use it!
Orientate yourself. Know where you are, what is around you. If you Park in a car park, know where the exits are, if any emergency escapes routes are present - even if this is a pathway or gap in a wall that you can fit through. Note barriers, obstructions and directional wheel spikes seen on the entrances and exits of some. Note security offices, where cameras are situated and park in sight of one.
When riding, check for safe havens along your route - public places you can hide in or alert someone for help should you need to; Shops, Garages, Police Stations. Anywhere public with numbers of people around. Check side roads, get to know where they lead to and which are dead ends or don't lead anywhere. This is most important in high risk areas, town centres and during worktime commuting.
You now have Observed your surroundings, Orientated yourself with your surrounds and now it is decision time.
Your bodies' natural reaction by default is Fight or Flight - you need to overcome this. As soon as that kicks in, your body is flooded with chemicals and you are not thinking logically. You really need to think logically - So, keep asking yourself questions. Is that person a threat? Am, I really being Followed or is it just my imagination? Where is my best escape route? Where is the nearest Police station? Where is a Safe Haven? All of these will keep your brain functioning and prevent panic of 'fight or Flight' creeping in. So stay calm, you have this all under control!
You observed: Kid behind, hooded up, balaclava on a nice sunny day. No others with him. Obvious threat - but is he after you, another quarry, or is he returning on a stolen bike to his hideout/stash point?
YOUR only concern is the point of YOU being FOLLOWED.
You orientated: You know the neighbourhood, where the safe points are and where the side roads go to. Left or Right - you orientated, you know, you Decide - pick one. Do THREE of your chosen turns IN THE SAME DIRECTION. If when you do your first turn he is still there, there is a probability, By the second turn it is more likely but a slim chance you may be wrong, By the Third, you are undoubtedly being followed as you are in effect heading back the way you came.
Now comes time to decide. Some will divert straight home - worst thing you can do. Stay well away from your destination.
If you have hands-free, Call the Police; tell them what road you are on and stay on that road. Tell them you are being followed by suspicious people and you need assistance. Keep on that road so officers can find you. If you are afraid, stay on the line to them.
Pick your chosen escape route if that is required. What street goes where, pathway or route you know to a safe location.
You can go to a Safe Haven for Help; Public Place, Police Station or area where there are large numbers of public that can help - even somewhere with security guards. Shops can often phone through to Police through their own shopwatch schemes. If you have to leave your bikes outside, Lock it to something and include the back wheel/swing arm.
If you are on a larger bike and have a mismatch of power, use it to your advantage. Head for faster roads, dual carriageways or the motorway network even if it is out of your way slightly and lose them that way.
More often than not, the person following will disappear knowing they have been rumbled. and they 'lost' you in their fishing expedition that day. After a safe period return home firstly returning back on yourself and taking a longer route home. Again, include faster routes if appropriate.
Report incident to Police regardless, as they need to know the threats that are ongoing. Your trained and honed observation skills will come into use here, as will your orientation.
OBSERVE - ORIENT - DECIDE - ACTION