The following are some best procedures for completing an op without incriminating yourself. This list is culled from a study of shadow ops down through history—heists, capers, spy ops, assassinations, etc. They are lessons learned in the schools of hard knocks, hard time, and short lives. Most ops fail because they violate one or more of these rules. They may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many professional operatives neglect them, to their lasting regret. Study these procedures until they are second nature so you don’t make a mistake when the pressure is on.
- Dispose of all Evidence. Immediately dispose of all tools, technologies, clothing, packaging and other physical evidence connected to the op when you are done with it. Don’t keep it at your home or place of business. Burn it, put it in a trash compactor, dump it in landfill, throw it in a deep body of water, bury it in a remote area. Make sure that it won’t be found for a long time, if ever.
- Use Trusted Associates. Only work with highly trusted associates who can be relied upon to keep their mouths shut and not betray you. Preferably all associates should be long-time colleagues, close friends or family members.
- Use Competent Associates. Only work with smart, competent, experienced associates who won’t botch the op or panic when the pressure is on.
- Keep Associates to a Minimum. The fewer people involved in an op, the less chance of mistakes and betrayals. Ideally you should work alone.
- Don’t Incriminate Yourself During Communications. Don’t say anything incriminating via telephone, text message, email or other communications medium. Communicate with co-operatives using code words. Whenever possible, meet them in person, preferably at a location where eavesdropping is difficult, such as a remote rural area.
- Destroy Your Communications Trail. Dispose of all communication devices and messages linking you to op associates when you are done with them: phones, SIM cards, paper notes, emails, instant messages, etc.
- Be Anonymous. Don’t attract attention during any stage of an op. Be the “gray man” that no one notices or remembers.
- Use False Identities. Establish false ID’s so that any paper trail you leave during an op leads to someone else.
- Leave the Scene. Leave the scene of the op immediately and don’t return. Don’t be like Leonardo Notarbartolo, who, after completing one of the biggests heists in history, returned to to the scene of the crime a few days later and got arrested.
- Leave No Forensic Evidence. Wear gloves, a balaclava and long-sleeved shirt and pants to prevent fingerprints, disguise your face and minimize DNA evidence.
- Be Untraceable. Don’t drive your own car to or from the op; use a stolen car or one rented under a false identity. Purchase tools, clothing and supplies with cash; don’t use anything that can be traced to you that you can’t dispose of.
- Have an Alibi. Make sure someone reliable can testify that you were far from the scene of the op at the time it occurred.
If you follow all these procedures you can complete any op in darkness without leaving any trace for pursuers. Like a Shadow.