If you are trying to find the quickest way to get punched in the face, try staring people down in a busy marketplace.  That is exactly what will happen if you start employing overt observation techniques from a non-concealed observation post.  Sometimes, employing these techniques can get exciting, and you will get so focused, you can become “blind” to counter surveillance.  This is called “Change Blindness”.  We will discuss this concept in another post.  So how do you avoid the badge of shame associated when a Wal-Mart loss prevention specialist appears “out of nowhere” and asks you to leave?  Or worse… when a gang banger decides your face should meet his fist.

You can avoid these embarrassing moments by concealing your intentions.  If your intention is to observe, chances are, that is not the normal behavior of the area you are operating in.  You need to blend into your surroundings.  This is accomplished by finding a purpose into the area of observation.  If you are at an outdoor marketplace, become a shopper.  If you find yourselves sitting at a bench, grab a magazine, a newspaper, or a smart phone.  Use a Bluetooth headset, or a cell phone, so you have the appearance of diverted attention.  Wear sunglasses.

Sun glasses were created around 1430 in China using a method called “smoke-tinting” to darken the lenses of the glasses.  They were used, not for the effects of the sun, but for Chinese judges.  As they questioned witnesses, the tinted glasses provided the judges decisions to remain “un-readable”.

Poker players employ the use of sunglasses to prevent other players from “reading their eyes”.

There are, however, limitations to when and where you can wear sunglasses.  Try wearing your sunglasses at night, no matter how cool and the cliché alone will get you punched in the face.  Take your sunglasses indoors and you might as well get the orange spray tan and spiky hair to match.

These are just a few things to consider with employing observation techniques in your hometown.  Operational military and law enforcement units will have their own techniques to blend in, and observe.  I just wanted to add a few considerations if you are going to go out into town to “hone your skills”.