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by grayfox114


Having been a longtime prepper, a survivalist if you will, I long ago determined that being a lone wolf/solo survivor was a sure road to a quick death or interment in any situation greater than a winter storm. In a grid down/SHTF scenario, being part of a group will be imperative, and the more low key and inconspicuous the better. In the early stages of my “journey,” I allied myself with family and relatives. I made the acquaintance of other like minded individuals, usually through casual conversations followed up by in depth discussions of politics and philosophies. I was asked by leaders of local “groups” to become a member, but I declined as I had designs on forming a group of my own choosing, but it was obvious that some people knew about me. Some of these contacts became close friends and confidants, others nothing more than “good to know people” who thought as I did. At the time, I never gave much thought to the security issues associated with being a prepper/survivalist.


On returning to law enforcement in the mid 90’s, I was required to take a battery of psychological tests to determine if I had any traits that would disqualify me as a peace officer. I did not, but the profiler identified me as an extremely conservative, very right wing individual who would be likely to have a bunker and as someone who would store food, water and guns for the coming revolution! I was shocked, but not as shocked as when the Sheriff asked me if my bunker was above or below ground! I was also dumbfounded when I found that it was illegal for people to get together to train as a militia, whatever that was construed to be! Remember, this is California! Big brother was obviously afraid of the fringe element.


As a full time deputy, I was frequently described by my co workers as a rabid survivalist, a doom and gloomer, and the go to guy in the event of a collapse. Most of it was good natured humor, but it was obvious that they knew something about me. This “ribbing” continued until I left law enforcement. What I came away from law enforcement with, other than my pension, was the undying belief that the Emergency Services operation in this area, and most notably law enforcement, were woefully unprepared to deal with any mass catastrophe situation that would affect them, much less one that affected the local area and precluded massive assistance arriving from elsewhere in the state or other states. A mass catastrophe, such as a major earthquake, would defy description. To the best of my knowledge, the preps by officials in the county where I live consist of 5 gallon survival buckets placed in each county office. The buckets double as portable toilets, seriously! This underscores the dependence of the powers that be on the government, and again underscores the need for the individual to get ready on their own, to be a prepper, but be quiet about it.


It was within the last 5 years that I became very cautious and suspicious about my prepping activities. My good friends and confidants, who knew much about me, my preps and views, had faded into the background, ostensibly giving up on the “cause.” One had come out as a dyed in the wool racist, and as I did not subscribe to his views, we parted ways. Another very close prepper decided that preparedness was much ado about nothing, and sold or gave everything away. None of his stuff was made available to me or any other prepper, for sale or as a gift. We did not part ways, but I truly wondered how much information he shared with his new friends. This was a man that loved the late William Cooper, to the point that he donated $10,000.00 to him! Eternally, or so I thought, suspicious of officialdom! I never figured out what changed his views, but he recently professed, due to the current political/financial climate of the U.S. and the world, that he was again entering the preparedness arena. He will be on his own if this happens.


The point of this article is to, hopefully, alert other preppers to the possibility of being too open with people they think they know and trust. In a truly grid down/SHTF scenario, those that knew about you will remember, and will probably “come a callin.” What may be worse, in a truly catastrophic situation, where everything has gone to hell in a handbag, your former friends might offer you up to secure a better deal or place for themselves and their families. Desperate times lead to desperate measures.


Another thing, not new but now glaring, has made me somewhat apprehensive: Reading government publications relating to crisis relocation and Homeland Security, and more ominously, FEMA, I find that in times of crisis, the responsibility for managing a “situation” can and will be, initially, handed to almost any local elected official or any official designated, including a fire chief, a community service manager, almost anyone, depending on the need and availability. One of my former “confidants/partners” is a community service manager, and works with if not for our local fire chief. Fire chiefs are designated by the government as interim crisis managers, until FEMA/military/homeland security can arrive on scene.  Our community service manager was big into prepping and grouping for the common good, but he has since decided that it was too expensive and took too much time, and he backed out. I will stake everything, no pun intended, on the belief that he remembers me and mine. Our local law enforcement, I  feel, will not be much of a factor in a catastrophe, as they are so undermanned that they are barely effective now. This may be  a good/bad thing, depending on whether or not they are supplemented by “law enforcement” from other agencies, possibly agencies from other countries.


Living in a very small, rural area, and being former law enforcement, I am critically aware of the lack of preparations that are in place to handle anything other than a very minor, local crisis. If “something big this way comes,” the people in this area are going to be on their own for a very long time. There is no infra structure in place to assist the local population, much less any outsiders that might arrive through their own initiative or crisis relocation.  Everything we use in this area arrives by truck, on two or three roads frequently closed by winter storms, (What will  happen if they are wiped by an earthquake) and they must pass through much larger cities to get here, even if someone sees the need for supplies in a rural area. It will be complete and utter chaos and dog eat dog.


Back to FEMA, in the event of a widespread disaster, such as a California quake, they, the military or one of their designated groups, yes state militias and other recognized groups can come under their control,  will eventually arrive on scene to take charge. And they will arrive and take over, and they will take whatever is available for redistribution to the masses, making full use of the executive orders that allow them to seize food supplies. You can bet they will want more than food supplies!


While I am not particularly paranoid, I certainly see the need to keep my preps somewhat secure and secret. As the “cat” may already be out of the bag, my I am in a damage control  mode, and I am definitely going as much “low profile” as is possible at this stage of the game. The gist of this article: “Loose lips sink ships,” “A secret is something told to one person at a time,” and “keep your friends close, and your preps closer.” Without knowing what is ahead and what might happen, preparing is a good thing, but being prepared brings with it the possibility of becoming a target. Operational security is the word of the day.




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16 thoughts on “OPSEC PRE SHTF”

  1. Great article, our walks are similiar and the balance between finding LMIs, trying to help people and keeping OPSEC is a hard one.

  2. I share your concern about these issues and constantly worry about how to keep secret what I have accumulated and accomplished from those who have not, or will not. Controlling what you say or do is difficult enough, but controlling the actions of family and close friends is almost impossible so I’m forced to keep my wife as my only true confidant at this point. Where I live requires me to order a lot of my preps on the internet. This means the UPS, Fed EX, and the mail guy all know my business. An example would be my recent order from the LDS. The boxes had their contents and quantity as well as their source clearly labeled on the outside of each box. This presents a problem I don’t know how to deal with. In addition all credit card records are subject to scrutiny by the alphabet agencies. I’m sure I will be faced with knocks on the door from those wanting a hand out to those wanting all I have. As a Christian and I must set aside extra supplies, but also must prepare to defend what I have from any one who would do me or my family harm. Thanks for your post it is a subject we must all consider and learn to deal with.

  3. As noted above, and in other articles, it is likely that those “here to help” folks already have you mapped out with lists of what to expect to gain at your site.

    It is not only those you talk with, but those ‘mining’ credit card transactions, online browsing habits, and the links or comments made by those you know and are ‘linked’ to.

    I, on the other hand, also pay attention to details. I know my neighbors, and make a point of keeping in touch with everyone from time to time. I know who is likely to show up here. I also know who won’t. I know what help I can expect, from whom, and in what circumstances, and they know what to expect from me. It won’t matter what the ‘officials’ know.

    I think the best plan involves as many people close to you as possible. If you try to do otherwise, you will likely find yourself facing a crowd that does NOT have your best interests in mind. BUT, with more people on your side, and by your side, you will stand a better chance of being on the surviving team.

    Good luck

  4. I, too, am in a small rural area in CA and I only wish I knew someone else nearby who is also prepping and worried about the authorities confiscating all my food, weapons and tools in anemergency situation.I am afraid to broach the subject with anyone I don’t know well – and I don’t know many people here as I am a relative newcomer, having only been here a few years over a decade and that makes me an “outsider”. Iguess that could be a good thing, but if there is safety in numbers, I’m probably a goner.

  5. Agree with you, I have some friends who do not want to prep but have said instead that they will come to my place.
    I really dont need those kinds of friends. I live in the San Jose California area. And I will protect my supplies with lead as needed. I will not be disarmed like those in Katrina.

  6. Great post and a sound warning. The goal in prepping is to survive (in the best shape possible) the event, whatever that event may be. Stealth should be a main objective. If after an event the government decides to make you a target -for whatever reason- it will be over for you, regardless of your numbers or weaponry. You may successfully defend against the first or even multiple waves of attacks by the authorities, likely the military, but in the end you would be forced to succumb to their will…. either dragged away in a body bag or lead away in shackles to a FEMA camp or prison while your stockpiles of food are loaded into a box truck for inventorying and distribution….. and that is not surviving.

  7. Any chance you can try to convince people that you have given up on prepping?

    Also, if it’s any consolation, others (like myself) have learned from stories like yours and are staying quiet about our preps.

  8. Something that seems obvious and rarely discussed – is not having all your toys in one box. I live in a rural part of Louisiana. Everything comes in and delivery people mention it. I usually just say it is for the shelter, church or something, but I bet they remember. Some years ago I lost my home to fire and with it everything. With this experience I have only a small portion of my prep in my home. Yes it is easier to have a fancy pantry with fancy shelves, but it is also just dumb. Far better to have any number of places in plan sight. Sealed buckets under the compost heap or raised bed garden. False floor in a run down shed. When they come “and they will come” they will get some of my stuff, but they will not get all of my stuff.

    The same goes for your home. A big gun safe looks good, but built in hiding places is much better. Better to have both. A few crap guns in the safe and the good stuff hidden. It does not take the end of the world for someone to break in and steal your stuff. Police are useless in a rural area. One day I accidently set off the silent panic alarm and the police arrived 45 minutes later. If it had been a home invasion, they would have been done and gone.

    I wish I could find a group to join, but have not found anything worth joining. I know security is my number one problem as it is just me and one other. At this time I place small orders, pay cash whenever I can and hide most everything. It’s not easy, efficent or cost effective, but what else can I do? If you have ideas I would love to hear them.

  9. A good common sense approach. I have heard of those whose prepping plan is to take from those of us who prep. Better to keep quiet about what we are doing than to advertise. Personally, I tend to prep at night. It is harder for others to know what I am doing. I prep slowly to so I do not gain the attention of others.

  10. One idea if forced to use other than cash or have stuff delivered…do you have one person/family you can trust and who you would be willing to take in if the balloon goes up? Have all stuff put on their card (give them cash) and delivered to their place, and pick it up from them and take it to your place. When SHTF, they come to your place and if they get a “visit” from anybody there will be nobody there and nothing to take.

    This is the only answer I’ve found, and luckily my parents are still alive and willing to do this for me. They think I’m paranoid (of course) but they may be glad later when they (and ONLY they) head out to my place at high speed.

    One thing I haven’t been able to solve as far as opsec is how to do large-scale things, like installing solar/wind, burying fuel/water tanks, putting in a shelter off the basement, etc. You can get them hidden or camoflaged, but how do you do the work without anyone noticing unless you’re doing new construction, doing it yourself and can just build things in as part of a larger construction project? People tend to notice if you’re using a backhoe or similar, even in many rural areas. No good ideas for that yet.

  11. Great article.

    We live in a suburb of the largest city in our state. My employment is in the heart of ‘downtown”. I also take a lot of internet deliveries. In the past, I would have the heavy stuff sent to my home and the light stuff at my work address. But for the past year and counting I take all orders at my work address. I will continue to do that until a) I retire, or b) the SHTF.

    My home has an attached garage, so the neighbors do not see anything. We currently rent from a friend out BOL. When we are able to get our own place, the neighbors will not see a thing there.

    As was once said, “God save me from my friends, for at least I know what my enemies will do to me”.

    Keep on prepping.

    Old Dog

  12. I have a big mouth!!! And people have pretty good memories.

    I started prepping in 1999 before Y2K, I was still in High School at the time and had sadly never heard about opsec. To this day I still get ribbed by people about waiting for the end of the world on new years eve in 99. I just wanted to be prepared…

    Ten years latter I got back into prepping, although I really never left. Now however I am much more concerned about opsec.

    A few weeks back I had some friends to my cabin, I was shocked to hear them taking about prepping. I thought someone had spilled the beans about my Y2K proclivities. Thankfully I played stupid and was able to gain more info on these nascent preppers than I gave out. Many of my friends know I have a nice little cabin in the woods and some guns but few are aware of the breath of my prepps. I was taken aback by how quickly one of these guys announced he was coming to my house if the SHTF.

    Today I do my best to prepp on the DL. I have thought about approaching some friends about a “support group”, but have since thought better of it. Instead I am making note of people who have skills or things I need or could use in a SHTF situation. I am gently encouraging friends to be moderately prepared but trying my best not to tip my hand. Instead I am trying to do some prepping for them so that if it hits the fan I can arm and equip them and invite them to share their skills or supplies with me in return. It’s tough though, who can you trust???

    • Padre –

      Back around 1986 or so I actually had my name and address published in SURVIVE magazine as I wanted to get in touch with fellow survivalists. Didn’t really think about OPSEC back then either.


  13. A couple SOPs that I have developed:

    1) Deliver to one address store at another.
    2) Do your best to create a legal camouflage, own things in the name of a trust or business rather than in your own name, its perfectly legal and not that hard to do. It won’t shield you from someone looking specifically for you, but may protect you from a dragnet style list.
    3) Use cash when possible
    4) and be willing to drive long distance to pick things up yourself.
    5) if possible make friends with the shop owners you are doing business with, that way they are more likely to cover your trail

    And of course store in multiple locations.


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