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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shadow living - Part 7 - How to Get into an Area

The moment of truth has arrived. You have reached the place you are supposed to gain access to. More than likely, it is a house, a trailer, or an RV. There are numerous methods of getting inside. You'll have to decide what things you have access to.


Doors are the obvious method of entry, and thus you should use them as a last resort. Remember Rule 4! If you absolutely have to though, doors are almost a guaranteed way of gaining access to an area. When entering a door, keep door alarms in mind, as well as the noise caused by certain doors. Squeaky hinges could by silenced by oil, or if you wish to keep your load out smaller, you could always try muffling the noise with cloth.

Open the Door

Before you try anything, try to just open the door as is. Many times, doors will be unlocked by careless people, or maybe they just think nobody is bold enough to enter the building. There's no point in ended up like those people on America's Dumbest Criminals.

Picking the Lock

If you have the skill to do so, you may pick any locks that impede you. As there are numerous guides on how to do so, there is no use in me trying to teach you. It is quiet, and so long as you don't make loud noises, you should have as much time as you need to open the lock. Do this if you have the skills and equipment needed.

Push the Bolt In

A lot of frames you'll encounter are cheap wood, so you can chip away just enough with a flathead screwdriver (remember what I said about them in "The Gear"?). From there it is simply a matter is sliding the screwdriver in and pushing the bolt towards the knob, thus allowing the knob to turn and open the door.

An alternative method is available if you can somehow get a shoelace on either side of the bolt and work the lace down to where the knob will turn. Isn't as reliable as the screwdriver method but it's on the table.

Pry the Door Open

Another use for your screwdriver. Place it between the door and the frame, then pry the door open. Pry from the bottom, and keep shimming the door further and further open with whatever you can. Eventually the door will open, producing a loud pop. It's loud, but doesn't do too much actual damage to the door or frame. Crowbars, pry bars, and shovels are superior to a screwdriver, obviously. You can also get more prying power out of a screwdriver by sliding a pipe over the existing handle to extend it.

Drill the Lock

Guaranteed method of bypassing locks. Drill just above the opening so that you destroy all of the pins. After the final pin is destroyed, you can open the door.

Ram the Door Open

If the door swings in, you can always try ramming it. This will also produce a loud noise, and is harder to do sometimes than prying. Ram in the center of the door with your shoulder, as it produces more force than kicking. This relies on having a weak frame, lock, or door. Careful with cheap doors however, as you may go right through it, creating a huge racket along with clearly seen evidence. If you know for sure that the frame is weak, you can also try kicking the doorknob.

Unlock the Door from Inside

In order to do this, you'll need to create a hole in the door. If there is a window, break it and unlock the door. Mind you that this is also a loud method, and not only that, it causes damage and evidence. Use only when all options are spent.

Unlock the Door from Outside

If you can get a hold of a key, by all means use it. Look under door mats, by mail boxes, on sills, under pots, anywhere one might be hidden. If the keys are to a large building, duplicate it as soon as possible as they may change the locks. With vehicles, try searching around wheel wells, bumpers, and pick-up beds for magnetic key holders.

Unhinge the Door

If the door swings outside, you may be able to remove the pin hinges and move the door entirely. Place a screwdriver between the pin and hinge, hammer upwards, and remove. Work slow and carefully so as to not create too much noise. You may wish to replace the door later, but do so only if the time warrants it. A pry bar or crowbar can also get the job done, obviously.

Unscrew the Door

Some doors which lead into cheap trailers, cabinets, etc, are held in place by hinges which can be unscrewed from the wall from the outside... I don't know why either but I've seen it. Don't count on it, but be grateful if this good fortune comes to you.

Fold the Door

If you are really getting desperate while trying to open up an RV for some strange reason, it may please you to know that the doors are usually simple wood and fiberglass sheets. As such, they can be bent rather easily. Fold the bottom half upwards, and crawl in using the gap you make. You can grab the bottom after prying it out a little using any prying tool before bending. This creates awful noise and evidence, but if you are in the middle of nowhere, it may work.

Cut the Lock/Hasp

If the door is locked up by a padlock, you then have the option of cutting the lock. You can do this with either a hacksaw or a bolt cutter will work. A bolt cutter is faster and makes less racket, but a saw is lighter. If you are using a bolt cutter, you can dampen the noise by wrapping a cloth (wet if possible) around the head before cutting the lock. Also, if there is a hasp you can attack with the cutters, attack it instead as they are almost always easier to cut than the actual lock. Same applies with a hacksaw.

Finding Combos

Not all doors are held shut by a pin and tumbler style lock. Some use combo panels that force you to enter the correct numbers before opening the door. First of all, forget opening it up and connecting wires together, it doesn't work that way. These days the panels are computer controlled, so the right combo is necessary. The best way to do this is by using graphite dust on the panel. Just put a pile in the palm of your hand. Then blow the powder onto the panel. The dust will then stick to any fingerprints showing you the last buttons pressed. There is a slim chance the numbers will be off, but it can happen. In any case, start punching in the possible combos until it unlocks, it shouldn't take long. Also, be sure to clean up the dust when you are finished.

The alternative is to monitor the panel somehow, using powerful optics and positioning yourself so that you can view the panel well. You'll probably have better luck on the right side of the panel since most people are right handed, and you'll be able to get a clearer view. You may even be able to do this in the daytime by sitting in a car with binoculars. Make sure cameras or pedestrians can't see what you are doing though.

When you open the door, remember to get inside and shut it immediately. An open door in the middle of the night is suspicious and may cause a person to call the police if seen. Also, remember to keep it unlocked until you leave, should you need to hurry back through it. If the lock is undamaged, lock the door again on your way out. Remember to leave everything as you found it whenever possible.


The great thing about windows is that they seem to take lower priority than doors. Shock sensors may exist and should be watched for, but generally windows are forgotten in the line of security. For most homes anyhow. As such, they should be your first place to try accessing the building. If there is a screen in the way, you can probably pop it out entirely with a screwdriver, or simply tear it out.

Open the Window

Again, try this before anything. Try to just open the window, it may very well be open, especially in summer.

Pry the Window Open

Take a screwdriver and try popping the cheap lock. It will make some noise, but it usually works. You can fix the lock inside if you are undetected and want to remain so.

Unscrew the Window

Many windows on RVs, trailers, and even some cheaper homes have the screws on the outside so that you could simply unscrew the window from the wall and remove it. It takes a little time, but makes no noise, and can always be set back into place if time allows.

Break the Window

If all else fails, put a damn rock through the glass. Works every time, but is loud and leaves evidence. You can make this method quieter by taping a corner of the glass and tapping it a hammering tool (butt of your field knife works great) then slowly pushing the glass. If you plan on simply shattering the glass, aim for the center where the window is weakest.

Cut the Window

Using a glass cutter, you can cut through the glass. This makes a nasty scratching sound though, so only use it when noise isn't an issue. Suction cups will allow you to remove the cut section of glass easier and quieter, but take up more room.

Miscellaneous Entry

Sometimes the best method of entry isn't always the obvious one. These places are not only unexpected, they usually have little if any security precautions.


These are your next options. Vents may be tunnels that are big enough to enter, or they may be removable. The latter is almost always an option on RVs. Climb on top, unscrew the vent lid, and you'll be able to drop into it's bathroom. There is generally a metal slide in your way that needs to be removed first. It can be cut, or carefully detached.

Ceiling Entry

You may be able to find removable slats, which can be removed. Then you can climb up into them and get onto the other side of walls. A rare find, but effective.

Floor Entry

Some buildings have hatches that allow you to go underneath of the houses for maintanence. From here you may be able to saw a hole in the floor to gain access. Only reasonable if the reward is worth it. Be mindful that underneath the building there may be dangerous animals. Slightly experimental.

Wall Entry

This method is admittedly bizarre. The idea is to open up a wall then just go through it. One method may involve removal of metal sheets as described in "The Gear". The Animal Liberation Front is also known to drill holes in mortar outside of cinder bricks to loosen them, then remove large portions of cinderblock walls.

Slow, somewhat noisy, but doable. Experimental method, do it at your own risk. I should add that the idea seems more feasible than you'd think, because mortar is drilled like butter most of the time, so drilling all of the holes wouldn't take too long (two minutes per brick would seem reasonable). Even a hand-cranked drill will work good in this case.


Once in the building, may need to get inside of a file cabinet. The locks on these are generally easy to pick. In fact, there is a 50/50 chance that you can do so with your screwdriver. If all else fails, you can pry the thing open with it instead.

Security Measures

Only the foolish would assume a building has no security measures. You may decide to run a recon operation on a building for the sole purpose of identifying it's security measures. If the systems are unidentified, the general rule is that the better the building, the better the security. Here are common security installations you will run across on operations, what their dangers are, and how to defeat them.


These are great. Building owners often display their security systems proudly on their windows to ward off any would-be burglars. This actually benefits you, because now you know what you are up against. Always look for these when reconning a potential target. You can then look up that security company online and look at their product features! By doing so, you'll find the weaknesses of specific systems, which will allow you to slip in unnoticed. Be aware that sometimes places falsely display these just to scare people off. There may be no security, but don't forget Rules 10, 9, and 7.

Passive Infrared Sensor

PIR Sensor for short, these are the sensors that detect body heat. They are fairly common, and connect to the main security panel. If you walk past them, they will notice you. The trick here is to either blind the sensor, fool the sensor, or quiet the sensor. Keep in mind that most sensors have a ninety degree view.

The first thing to try is to blind the sensor. This can be done by sliding along the wall it is on, then either spraying it with metallic paint, foam, or placing metal taping on it. If you do so, you should try to get any of them as thick as possible on the sensor. You can also grab a nearby fire extinguisher and spray it down if possible. You can also place tin foil around the sensor if you can't find paint, tape, foam, or whatever. Remember that metal blocks the sensor.

The second option is to fool the sensor. This is rather tricky. First of all, forget trying to walk slowly, it doesn't work. The only way to do this is to wrap yourself in a fire blanket. Those make noise and shine, but can trick the sensor, although it is pretty impractical. Alternatively, you could just get without of sensor range if possible.

The final option is to cut the wires to the thing. This prevents the sensor from sending a signal. You'll have to slink along the wall to get close. This may seem to be the obvious choice, but don't get your hopes up. Many security systems will automatically sound an alarm if it's sensors are cut. As a general rule, if the system looks new, don't tamper with it.

The average range for a sensor is about thirty feet, some extend farther. A safe distance would probably be forty feet.

PIR Lighting

A common outdoor nuisance is PIR lighting. These are the lights that turn on if you move around in front of them thanks to a PIR sensor, and will draw attention to you during operations. There are two targets for defeating a PIR light - the sensor and the light bulbs. Unlike a security sensor however, these can usually be severed from their power source without sounding an alarm. Be aware that, while rare, some double as an alarm sensor.

What makes these even easier than a security sensor however, is that they can be defeated by rendering the lights useless. There are several ways to do this.

The first is to physically bust the light bulbs. You can do this at range with a pellet gun or a rock, but a pellet gun is recommended. That's because if you miss with a rock, it will sound like a bell hitting the light housing. You can also ride the wall to it and bust the bulbs. This is best done by holding your field knife in front of the sensor and tapping the bulbs with something. Be sure you tap as I said, because if you are using an all metal tool, then you run the risk of electrocuting yourself.

The second is to unscrew the light bulbs. This is convenient, as you can come back and screw them back in later, leaving no evidence. To do so, act like you are going to tap with bulbs with something. Instead, once your knife blade is blocking the sensor, unscrew the bulbs.

The third is to block the light with something. This can be thick cloth, or you can spray the bulbs black. This won't totally eliminate light output, but it should lower it enough as to create less of an attraction.

Shock Sensors

These are the nasty little things that are placed on windows, as well as cars. When the sensor is bumped hard enough, it sends out the alarm. Like all sensors, there is a chance that when cut from the panel, the alarm will automatically be sent. Mind you they can also be installed onto doors.

Since there is no way to "blind" a shock sensor, the only thing you can do is avoid setting it off. Treat it like highly volatile explosives, one little bump could blow the operation. As long as you do not bump anything, these will not go off. You can touch the area right next to them and slowly lean into the sensor with no consequence. If you must go through a window with one of these in it, do not open, pry, bump, or break the window. Your best bet in such a situation would be a glass cutter, if the noise isn't a problem. If possible, just avoid these.

Laser/Photoelectric Sensors

A little more exotic, these aren't found in many places due to their price tag. Still, where they are found they are difficult to mess with. Basically, if you break the laser beam, you trigger an alarm. As far as I know, there is no way to safely disable this alarm, you can only avoid them. The lasers are invisible, so you'll need help finding them. If you suspect a laser sensor is in the area, use something to create a mist such as an inhaler. The laser will become visible as the light refracts from the water.

Pressure Pads

These are sensors that activate when enough weight is put onto them. These aren't too common, but are still used for some buildings. They are commonly found under floor mats and carpeting surrounding doorways, maybe even windows in some higher security buildings. The best thing to do if you have good reason to think there is a pressure pad around, is to avoid stepping in these areas. You can also pry around with your field knife as though searching for mines, but the process would prove slow and difficult, not to mention leave evidence. Do so only if the reward is worth it. Just remember not to jab the actual sensor.

Control Panel

The heart of every security system, this is the electronic box that connects to its sensors. When a sensor sends it a signal, the panel turns on the alarm and almost always sends a signal to the local security company, who in turn contact the police.

This panel can be defeated in two ways. The first, more crude method is to simply smash the panel. So long as there is no remote panel, this will disable the system completely. Just smash the thing a few times with your knife handle. If there is a remote panel, the alarm will still be active.

The second is a little more difficult, but leaves less evidence. Bring graphite dust with you, put a pile into your hand, and blow into the panel. The graphite will be stuck to any recent fingerprints, giving you the numbers used. From there you should be able to punch in the combo in less than a minute with the given numbers. Just make sure the alarm doesn't threaten to sound if you get the wrong combo a certain number of times.

Remote Panel

A secondary control panel, found in some newer security systems. This keeps the alarm system active even if the main control panel has been destroyed. Defeated the same way as the main control panel.

Phone Line

Relevant to security because the signal to the security company is sent via phone line. Some more sophisticated systems actually use cellular signals, but these are usually found in more expensive establishments. This line may be cut, thus blocking the signal, but doing so may alert the security company, depending on the alarm system. Trying to take over the line be making a phone call will not work on modern systems.

Concerning cellular signals, if you know the system is cellular based, why not try to block the signal with a "magic bag"? It's an untested idea, but may work. Don't forget Rule 3 though.


Also relevant, because electricity is what runs the security systems. You may try to flip the circuit breaker if you have access or cut the power line with an insulated cutting tool, but be warned in doing so that it may alert the security company, or the control panel may simply have a battery back up. Useful if there are cameras but no alarms, but not much else.

Video Cameras

These come in many varieties, including the common black and white, color, and infrared. The can also transmit wirelessly, or by hardwire. These can be defeated in several ways, but mind you that they should only be tampered with if the camera is not actively watched by a guard, instead being recorded onto tape, and you know it is not a CCTV camera.

The first method of defeating a camera is to destroy the lens. This can be done by either shooting it with a pellet gun, or smashing it up close. If you want to remain entirely off camera, be sure to destroy the lens out of sight or sneak up from behind it. If the camera is one that rotates left and right, just rush it when it turns. Some cameras also have IR sensors (CCTV) which, when they see you, will draw the camera to you and/or sound an alarm. In this case, you must sneak up to the camera from out of view, and only destroy if you know it is not attached to an alarm system.

The second method of defeating a camera is to blind the lens. This is rather simple. You can hit it with paint, foam, fire extinguisher, tape it, cover it with a garbage bag, force it into looking at the wall, whatever. Again, if you wish to remain off camera totally, sneak up from out of view and do this. Also, forget paintball guns. Garbage bags may be optimal as you can remove them later if you wish, eliminating evidence.

Another way of blinding a camera is through the use of a laser pointer. Yes, this actually works. Some cameras, however, can filter out the effect somewhat, making you visible again. The best possible set-up would be a stand that can hold and aim three lasers - one green, one blue, and one red. If you wish to use lasers, imitate this set up as closely as possible.

The third method is to cut the power/video feed. Again, sneak up from out of view, then simply cut the wire. When doing so, keep in mind that this may activate the alarm if it is integrated.

What's important to remember about cameras is that they aren't any good if they cannot identify you. You may wish to put on a disguise inside of a building and when around cameras. Remember what you see on TV - cameras not only capture your face, but your skin color, your shoulder width (gender), height, size, hair, and how you walk. Change these up as best as possible, and the camera is of no concern. Besides, if you take something, it's not like defeating the camera will cover it up, they will know anyways.

Camera Domes

These are a little more tricky than single cameras. Again, they come in a variety of styles, and may or may not be actively watched, but even the black and white models are trickier than a single IR camera.

Camera domes can be seen in large stores and buildings on the ceilings as large, dark domes. Inside of each dome lays three or four cameras, getting a 3D view of it's surroundings. In short, you are up against multiple cameras, with a layer of protection.

Defeating these would be hard. For one, you cannot sneak up to them. They are also too tall to be able to smash or spray with paint. There are still a few methods open to you however.

Method one is to destroy the cameras. If you can see through the dome, you can target the lens of each camera and shoot them out with a pellet gun. You may also be able to shatter the dome or blow pieces off of it by using a pellet gun, then blind all the cameras. This method would be tough, and is not recommended. The good news is that since they are so hard to reach, there is a small chance of having a tamper alarm.

The second method is to cover the entire dome. You can do this by using long reaching foams, or by using a fire extinguisher.

If possible, instead try to find the tapes and destroy them, or just alter your appearance as much as possible.


These are where the cameras report to. You might be able to trace cameras back to the room that these are in if the cameras are hardwired. Rest assured, where there are cameras, there is something recording what they view.

When you find the tapes these are being recorded on, you can either steal them, destroy them, or try to mess with the content using a powerful magnet if one is around.

If the monitors are being watched by a guard, there is not much you can do short of drawing the guard out of the room.

Driveway Sensors

People place these at the head of driveways and walkways to detect people when they pass through the sensors. They either come in a pair, or just a single sensor. Single sensors are simple motion detectors, while the ones in pairs will indicate a photoelectric system. Stay completely away if you only see one sensor, as these things will go off if so much as a weed blows in front of them. Photoelectric sensors will only sound an alarm of course if you break the beam.

These are almost always mounted on poles, which a person passes by to go somewhere. They are rarely hidden. Remember Rule 10 though, you never know. If you see one or two suspicious poles with the driveway leading between them, avoid the driveway and cross a fence elsewhere.

Door Sensors

These are the annoying of the annoying. That's because there is really nothing that can be done about them. If the door is opened and this device is turned on inside, the alarm goes off. It doesn't matter how or who opens the door, the alarm will sound. If you know or think one of these might be attached, then avoid the door completely until the control panel has been defeated. Rule 4 also comes into play here.

Security Guard

The human element of security. It may or may not be armed with a weapon, so be alert. The old tricks such as tossing rocks to distract him can still work. Just don't be obvious about it, like tossing rocks into a metal roof, or the guard will probably know somebody is throwing rocks.

What makes guards difficult yet easy at the same time is that they are all different, and they all have human habits. Guards in small stations, for example, probably sit around playing and munching on snacks until somebody approaches in a dead obvious manner.

The best strategy to defeat a guard is to observe what he is doing for a few minutes, and slip past him. Avoid passing by on rounded minutes such as X:00, X:15, X:30, and X:45 as these are likely times for him to get up and move around.


Man's best friend is man's worst enemy in the shadows. You usually don't have to worry about being attacked, but the noise they make is incredible. The first and obvious thing you should try to do is be silent to avoid them. If that doesn't work, you can try to pacify them. Drop to a knee and try to call it to you, make friends with it. If it still sits there and barks, you can try to pacify it with a stick or meat if some is around. If that still does not work, try to scare it off somehow, or say "No!" firmly. If all else fails, you have three options: kill, silence, or leave.

I won't describe how to kill it, since it should not only never need to be done, but it should be obvious how to do. To silence it, nail it with a stun gun, slam it to the ground and tape it's mouth shut, kick it hard in the jaw, whatever. Be advised that all of these are easier said than done, and most methods will cause the dog to yipe, which is more alarming than it's bark. The third option, leave, should be done if the reward is not worth dealing with the dog.

Should the dog attack, you must quickly take something and wrap it around your less-used arm. Hold the arm out so the dog bites it, then either strike it in the face with something, a stun gun, or ram your knife into it's gut and let the dog slide down the knife. I've personally never had to do this, but it seems to be the taught method. If the dog is a small one and attacking, just give it a good kick.

There are other variables to consider. Perhaps the dog barks at everything to the point that the owner doesn't mind it anymore. In this case, you should sit back and observe what happens. If nothing becomes of the barking, just ignore it and proceed as planned.

A good resource online includes police suggestions to citizens. PDFs can readily be found on the web that describe recommended places for security measures, what to use, and when to use them. Studying up on these will give you an edge over not just common home security, but you'll be able to stray out of the common criminal profile, confusing potential investigations.

When you finally get into the area you need, be sure you have a way out that's fast and close by. Unlock all doors, disable all security features, and make you are haven't been spotted. This gives you a comfort zone, which reduces stress inside the operation area. That way you don't get overexcited and forget important details during your operation.

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