OPSEC When Shopping

One of the things we as preppers constantly have to consider is maintaining OPSEC (operations security). This is something that can be worrisome when shopping. Essentially, there are three elements to this we should consider.

1) Buying large quantities of items at local stores. Rolling up a cart filled with a couple cases of canned goods, several large bags of rice, a case of bottled water, and 20lbs of flour is probably going to raise an eyebrow or two at the checkouts. I can remember as a teenager, I worked for a small restaurant that had a Sunday brunch. On a pretty regular basis, we’d run out of one thing or another so I’d have to make a quick trip to the grocery store, where we had a charge account. This would result in me taking a cart and filling it to brim with loaves of bread and taking it up to the checkouts. I’d always get a funny look from customers and I’d often reply, “What can I say? I really like bread!” If you find yourself attracting attention, either from customers or the cashier, think ahead and have a reasonable sounding excuse ready to go. “I try to stock up when prices are low.” Or, “Watching my nephews over Spring Break and they’re about to eat me out of house and home!” Also consider spreading your shopping around a bit and either visit several different stores to make smaller purchases or make several smaller purchases throughout the week at the one store with the good prices.

2) Unloading mass quantities of supplies at home. Unless you are fortunate enough to live way out in the sticks, odds are you have neighbors who pay at least a bit of attention to what goes on in your neighborhood. Hell, don’t most of us watch what folks are doing around us? If you regularly come home with a trunk load of groceries a few times a week, someone is bound to remember that and maybe come calling when the balloon has gone up and they’re looking for a handout. If you have a garage, make a habit of pulling the car in, closing the door, and unload from there. Or unload later at night when you can’t be seen as well.

3) Receiving deliveries of online purchases. A few years ago, we had a neighbor who I would swear was singularly responsible for keeping eBay in business. He would receive multiple packages almost every day. Naturally, this was noticed since he wasn’t home during the day so the parcels would sit on his porch in a pile until he got home. If you have the means to do so, consider having at least some of your online purchases delivered to you at work. Doing so will obviously cut down on the number of packages you’re getting at home. Another idea is to have stuff delivered to trusted friends or family members. Some companies do also offer the option of not listing the company name on the package so at least nosy neighbors won’t see boxes coming to you from “PREPPERS R US” or wherever.

OPSEC is something you need to consider at all times. Look at your actions and behavior from the outside in and think about the information possibly being shared without your knowledge or consent.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for SurvivalWeekly.com. He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

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