Security Resources

The primary objectives of correctional institutions are to protect the public by safely managing advertisements and to afford such advertisements with every reasonable opportunity to participate in rehabilitative activities. Consistent effort will be made to ensure the security of the institution and the effectiveness of the treatment programs. Each employee must be trained to understand how physical facilities, personnel, and operative procedures affect the maintenance of security. The requirement of staff and public safety must take precedence over all other considerations in the operations, programs, and activities of the department.

Learning from Earth First!

Compiled from Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkey Wrenching, edited by Dave Foreman and Bill Haywood, Tucson, Arizona, Ned Ludd Books, 1987.


Scout your target in advance during daylight and at nighttime. Familiarize yourself with entrance/escape routes, surrounding roads, traffic patterns, lookout sites, drop off/pick up locations, security patrols, and police patrols. Take note of the location of video cameras, your exposure to potential witnesses, and areas where you can hide tools or clothes.


Don't stop directly in front of, park near, or repeatedly cruise past your target. If you use a vehicle, drop off your team away from the target to avoid attaching your vehicle or license plate to the scene. In rural areas a team can walk from a distant drop site, but in urban or suburban areas a closer drop will reduce your exposure to police patrols. After a drop drive away from the area and keep the vehicle moving to avoid suspicion. If you decide to park, do so only in busy areas where you will blend into surrounding traffic. In rural or sparsely populated areas driving may be conspicuous so you may choose to park out of sight. Scout parking beforehand so you won't attract attention as you cruise around looking for a spot. Avoid working in the early morning when reduced traffic will make you stand out. In quiet surroundings don't slam vehicle doors. Push the doors until they partially latch and close them completely after leaving the target area. Brake lights are highly visible so try stopping more quickly or using the parking brake.


A team should have a designated length of time to work and withdraw to a pick up location. Pick up and drop off sites should be different in case you have been noticed by suspicious witnesses. A driver should return to the area only at the agreed pick up time. He/she should not have to rush or break speed limits to arrive on time. If the team misses the first pick up, the driver should return at predetermined intervals - every 15, 20, or 30 minutes. Use a permanent landmark to find the pick up site. Radios can be helpful to coordinate actions during pick up, but remember that your transmissions may be heard by the police or other people using your channel. Prepare for an alternate site and time in case police are in the area. In the event of imminent danger from the police, conceal your tools, leave the area without incriminating evidence, and return later to pick up your materials. After a successful pick up, leave the area at a normal speed and conceal any evidence inside the vehicle. Stay on paved roads to avoid leaving tire marks or footprints. If you have to use a dirt road, you may be able to cover your tracks with a broom or branches as you leave.

No Evidence

Don't take any evidence from or leave any evidence on a target site. Wear gloves and avoid leaving fingerprints on your materials or on the scene. Before you start an action clean fingerprints from your tools in case you lose something on the site. Don't forget to clean internal components including batteries, bulbs, etc. Don't carry any unnecessary items that you might accidentally leave on-site. Remember that power tools have a serial number that can be tracked to a particular purchase. Don't leave an incriminating paper trail when acquiring your tools.

Burn paper, notes, maps, and other incriminating documents before an action. Crumble the ashes and then flush them down a toilet or bury them outside. Don't keep a diary or other records of your work. If you decide that you have to keep evidence, avoid storing it inside your house, your vehicle, or other personal property. Keep materials in a rental storage locker under a fictitious name. You may also want to bury or hide items in a secure location away from your home or store your things with a trustworthy friend. Choose a friend who is not involved in illegal activity to avoid a potential police search of their property.

Periodically dispose of all tools, clothing, shoes and other evidence that can connect you to an action. Replace bolt cutters, wire cutters, or other tools that leave a distinctive mark with similar items from a different manufacturer. Use a file to clean tools of paint chips, marks, or distinctive debris before and after a job. Remove broken bolts, locks, chain link pieces, and other metal fragments that you may have cut and discard them off-site. Dispose of paint in dumpsters and avoid fingerprints on the can. Clean or destroy clothing and shoes after a job to remove incriminating paint, fibers, dirt, or plant debris. Use cheap shoes that are easy to replace. If you can't replace shoes often, never use work shoes for any other activity since your footprints can be matched to an action. Wear smooth soled shoes or cover your shoes with socks to minimize traceable footprints. Wash and vacuum your vehicle to remove incriminating paint, grease, or dirt. Remember to remove and dispose of the vacuum bag.


Avoid exotic and unusual clothing on a job. Dress like the locals - construction workers, business executives, tourists, etc. Use dark clothes for nighttime work, and wear a hat to disguise yourself. Dress in layers with a disposable outer layer that can get dirty and an inner layer that will allow you to blend into the local population when you finish your work. If you lose a button or a piece of clothing, it will be less likely to arouse suspicion if your clothes match the site. Use only inconspicuous vehicles during a job - no distinctive paint, bumper stickers, or personalized license plates. Bumper stickers can be temporarily covered with a layer of masking tape which is easy to remove. Follow the masking tape with a layer of duct tape or electrical tape that matches the color of your bumper. Bike reflectors can be covered in the same way.

General Tips

  • If you use a vehicle, make sure your lights, signals, driver's license, and registration are legal. Don't break any traffic laws while moving to or from a job. Don't give the police an excuse to stop and search your vehicle.
  • Prepare a story to tell the police in case you are stopped. Keep it short and simple without too many details. Don't try to engage the cops in dialogue or respond to their accusations. Anything you say can and probably will be used against you.
  • Don't discuss your illegal activities on the phone or on the Internet. Don't carry address books, phone numbers, sensitive political documents, drugs, or weapons during an action.
  • Don't brag about your actions. Tell only the people who need to know.
  • Use fictitious names during an action so you won't be identified by witnesses. Memorize them and use them frequently so you won't revert to real names under stress. Use your fictitious names only in the midst of an action.
  • Minimize talking when you are near your target. Learn sign language or prepare hand signals so you can communicate without words or across distances if necessary.
  • Change patterns in your work to avoid police traps. Keep your actions as random as security permits. Change the type of target, the days and times that you go out, the locations of your target, and the routes of entrance and escape. Periodically stop working for a while. Limited personnel and budgets may force police to focus on more pressing matters. Use inactive periods to dispose of incriminating materials.
  • Remember that every time police stop someone a record is generated. Such records can connect you or your vehicle to a job. If you are stopped on the way to your target, cancel your plans. If you get stopped after a job, make an extra effort to destroy all evidence once you reach a safe location.
  • Two-way radios are an inexpensive and easy way to coordinate your efforts. If you use radios, speak in prearranged code and never refer to a person's real name. Try to use simple and innocuous code words that are easy to remember and that blend into the surrounding radio traffic. Practice speaking in code ahead of time so you won't revert to regular conversation on the radio. Remember to test your radios under comparable conditions before starting an action.
  • Avoid using cell phones near your target or during an action. Phone companies can record incriminating evidence by tracking your phone transmissions to a specific time and location.
  • Be prepared for police vehicles or holding cells with excessive heat or air conditioning. Wear clothing that opens down the front so you can slip layers on or off while wearing handcuffs. Police may try to humiliate you with lengthy detention in vehicles or holding cells with no toilets. Carry a ziplock bag(s) as a substitute for a toilet.
  • Trust your instincts and subtle feelings. Underground work and illegal behavior can sharpen an extra sense for danger that defies rational explanation.
  • Beware of overconfidence that can come after a series of successful actions. Feelings of invincibility can lead to dangerous and reckless behavior. Stay alert and plan carefully or take a break when you begin to feel invulnerable.


Keep the number of team members as small as possible to get the job done safely. A group should be able to provide a driver (if you're using a vehicle), lookouts, on-scene workers, and a backup person to provide legal/jail support. Recruit from reliable and trusted friends who are enthusiastic about direct action. Avoid casual acquaintances from political groups that are likely to attract police spies. Avoid acquaintances who talk tough since that can often be a cover for provocateurs or insecure, uninformed, and reckless behavior. After picking a potential recruit start with casual conversation to gauge his/her commitment to direct action. Use a current story or news article to raise the issue. Proceed with low-risk actions to see how the recruit works under pressure. Gradually introduce the recruit to other team members and to increasingly difficult jobs. Don't reveal your previous experience or your connection to an organized group. If a recruit bails out, they won't be able to compromise you or your group's security. Take your time. A good recruitment process can take several months.


Although security generally limits contact with outsiders, you may decide to approach the media to reach a broader audience. Remember that any verbal or written contact with the media may be passed on to the police who will look for clues from handwriting analysis, fingerprints, or voiceprints. Never assume that the media will impartially present your side of the story. News reporters may turn you into the police, distort your actions for their own benefit, or unintentionally reveal compromising information about your actions, group size, and future plans.


Never write a communique by hand. Cut words from a newspaper, paste them to a sheet of paper, and send a photocopy without fingerprints. Use a computer or a typewriter with public access or rent one under a fictitious name. To reduce the threat of people reading over your shoulder, bury your message inside innocent looking text and cut it out later. Remember that printers and typewriters leave distinctive marks that can be traced. Don't deliver original documents. Make several generations of light photocopies to disguise the origin of a typewriter or computer-produced original. Make several copies, touch only the top and bottom sheets, and deliver the inner sheets which should be free of fingerprints. Don't use the same copy machine repeatedly and avoid copy machines near your home or your job where you will be recognized.

Don't include fingerprints or other distinctive marks with your communique. Handle all paper, envelopes, labels, stamps, and tape with gloves. Use a sponge to moisten stamps or envelopes since saliva can be traced to a particular blood type and to a matching DNA sample. If you use the mail, carry your package in an envelope to avoid fingerprints. Hold on to the outer envelope as you drop the package into a mailbox. Use a mailbox that is far away from your area of operations to avoid clues about your location.

Telephone Contact and Interviews

All phone calls to the media may be recorded and/or traced to a particular phone. Use pay phones and keep your calls as brief as possible. For extra security direct your contact to a pay phone and call them from another pay phone. Give directions that lead to yet another pay phone and observe your contact to make sure that they are not being followed. If undercover police are following your contact, their trained eyes may pick you out. Be careful. If you think it's safe, direct your contact to a remote location with many avenues of escape. Schedule your interview at sunset so the oncoming darkness will cover your exit. Always conceal yourself with gloves, a mask, and a hat. Provide only the information that is absolutely necessary and make sure you have security people concealed nearby. Never allow more than one person in an interview. If lights or a camera flash will be used, save them until the end of the interview to avoid unwanted attention.


Photos can be a great tool for media publicity, but don't include anything in or on the photos that can be traced to you. Develop your own film and pictures in a private darkroom. Never trust film or prints to commercial labs since they may report you to the police. Digital photos do not require developing and can be easily uploaded to the Internet. Before uploading photos, make certain that your files don't include revealing metadata information, the camera's description or other unique characteristics. Destroy extra photos, negatives, or computer files. Avoid the temptation to keep a scrapbook because photos and negatives are extremely incriminating evidence. If you do decide to keep photos, hide them in a secure location far away from your home, your vehicle or any other personal property that may be searched by the police.

Back to Top