Many of us will experience being followed at some point in our lives. You don’t have to be a government operative to need to know how to lose a tail. The truth is, law enforcement tail people on a daily basis. Or perhaps you’ve got a jealous spouse who’s hired a private investigator to follow you (it happens a lot more than you think.)
Or, what about the psychopath that you accidentally cut off in traffic and he’s now following you home to give you a piece of his mind and maybe something much worse. The good news is, losing a tail is much easier than people think and you don’t need the driving skills of James Bond to do it.
However, in order to lose a tail you obviously need to be able to identify if someone is tailing you in the first place. Otherwise, one day, you may end up in your driveway as another car pulls in behind you, blocks you in and out jumps a madman with a baseball bat screaming about how you cut him off on the highway 20 miles ago.
So, how do you know if you’re being followed?
One of the simplest ways to identify a tail is to change your speed if you’re on the highway. Let’s say you’re going 75mph on the highway and you think that the red Toyota truck a few cars back might be following you.
All you have to do is drop your speed from 75mph to 60mph. Obviously, when you do this all of the cars around you should soon go right past you. If the red Toyota is still behind you and has dropped his speed to match yours then you know you’re being followed.
But what if you’re not on a highway?
Another way to identify a tail is by running a surveillance detection route. This could be as simple as driving around the block to see if you’re still being followed. Or, it could be as complicated as driving to one location (Starbucks) then to another location (Walmart) and then another location (the gas station.) If you see the same car at Starbucks, then Walmart, and then the gas station then you know you’re being followed.
Once you’re certain that you’re being followed there are a few options you have. You’ll choose which option to use on a case by case basis.
Let’s start with the most extreme option first and one you would only do if you were in a foreign country working for government agencies that don’t exist and you had no choice.
In short, I’m talking about losing your tail by “eliminating” the tail. For instance, let’s say you knew you were being followed and you had to get to an important meeting that nobody could know about.
You could drive into a parking garage and quickly exit your vehicle and wait for the car tailing you to come in and then you could “get rid of them.” As you can see, this is the Hollywood solution and not something you or I would (hopefully) ever do.
Let’s move onto more practical solutions that you and I might have to use one day to get rid of a tail.
- Let the tail know that you’re onto them – You’ll want to turn around and make eye contact with the driver, pretend you’re writing down their license plate number (really write it down if you can), and show them you’re dialing your cell phone.
If your spouse has hired a PI, the PI obviously doesn’t want to get caught and may stop following you as soon as he knows you’ve caught him. If the person following you is a criminal who’s trying to follow you home for a home invasion, they’ll likely drive away as soon as they know you’ve “made” them.
Letting the person know you see them is contrary to what a lot of folks have been taught. But remember, if the person is trying to be secretive and you “blow their cover” they’ll often stop following you.
- Shoot the Gap – When you were a teenager, there’s a good chance you “shot the gap” trying to impress your friends (or a girl) and not while trying to lose a tail.
But, in case you don’t know, here’s how shooting the gap works: you’re the first car in line sitting in traffic and getting ready to take a left hand turn. The light turns green, but you do not get a green arrow, which normally means you would have to yield to the other cars before making your left hand turn.
However, as soon as the light turns green you “shoot the gap” and take your left hand turn before the other cars get moving and now you don’t have to wait for the break in cars to take your left hand turn. This is an excellent (but riskier) way to lose a tail because by the time the tail reaches the intersection there isn’t an opening for them to cross the intersection any longer.
- Use semi-trucks to your advantage – If you’re on the highway there’s likely numerous big rigs. Wait for the right moment and you can weave in and out of the big rigs not leaving any space for your tail to follow. Once you’re free you could get off at the next exit (as long as your tail can’t see you do this.)
- Call the police – If you’re truly afraid and you know you’re being followed, don’t try and be a hero. Call the police and give them your location and keep driving along the same highway or road until the police arrive. As soon as your tail sees the police car there’s a very good chance they’ll stop following you to instead worry about the new set of problems they have.
- Stay on the main roads – If you’re being followed don’t drive to less populated areas. If your car breaks down or something happens you don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere. Stay on the busy main roads where there are plenty of people around so that if something does happen to your car and the tail is out to get you they might think twice because of all the witnesses.
- Keep calm and keep your wheels moving – Unless the car tailing you is shooting at you, remember to stay calm. As long as your car is moving you’re safe. If the person tailing you wants to kidnap you they’re not going to do it while driving 70mph down the highway, they’re going to do it when you come to a stoplight or stop sign. So, if possible, remember to be moving at all times and never let your car come to a stop if you can. (This is why “Shooting the Gap”, which I mentioned above is risky because your car will be stopped. You would only shoot the gap if you thought it was a PI or someone else following you who wasn’t looking to kidnap you or physically harm you.)
Hopefully, you never find yourself being tailed. But if you do, keep your wits and remember the advice above and you shouldn’t have a problem getting rid of the person following you.