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Urban Invisibility

Urban Invisibility*
By: Goshin

The following is for informational purposes only, to warn the reader of a security issue that he should be aware of.

A person with an ulterior purpose could hardly choose a better disguise in urban and suburban, or even rural, areas than that of a *utility worker*. Utility workers include meter-readers and technicians for power, water, phone, gas and more, as well as road workers, county inspectors, and so forth.

These workers may go almost ANYWHERE...people's back yards and private property, factories, even secure areas; they are often completely ignored, and rarely ever questioned closely about who they are or what they are doing.

Typical appearance: work clothes in blue or khaki, or jeans, or just pants/shorts and a T-shirt, almost always with a mesh-type orange vest for visibility; the vest may, but often does not, have something written on it...even when it does many people don't notice the writing. A hardhat and tool belt, or just a white or orange ball cap and a clipboard, with appropriate footgear (work-boots) completes the outfit.

Vehicles would be a required part of the disguise only in some areas, but a white pickup truck or van would usually suffice, and lettering could be put on the doors with electrical tape, trimmed with a razor; rarely would anyone examine it that closely. Utility subcontractors sometimes drive unmarked vehicles...but most do have a yellow caution light mounted. In some areas, utility workers may cover considerable ground on foot, making the disguise-vehicle unnecessary.

Those workers who enter private or secure areas often wear a picture ID clipped to their vest, with the worker's name and company written on it...keep in mind this type of ID is easily falsified, and again, people rarely examine a utility worker's ID closely. Even security guards rarely do more than glance at it. Another point is that many people will only remember the "uniform" (as in "he had on an orange vest and said he worked for the water district") rather than the persons *face*.

If the impersonator assembled his disguise with attention to detail, and armed himself with a plausible and simple cover story, there is little likelihood that he would be "blown".

Obviously, a person who had observed, for example, the power-company meter-readers in his area, noting what they wore and what sort of equipment they carried, and especially their behavior/activities, could easily impersonate one...merely looking and dressing the part and saying "meter-reader!" is usually enough to gain entrance nearly anywhere without being particularly noticed. If the impersonator behaved as if too busy to talk, answering any questions directed at him while continuing to walk briskly in the direction of his goal, most people would assume "he knows what he's doing" and thereafter leave him alone.

Clearly this gaping hole in security is worth noting. If someone wished to move about otherwise private areas, unquestioned, while being little noticed and poorly-remembered, impersonating a utility worker would be one of the subject's best gambits. We should all take careful note, for our own personal security and that of our retreats and businesses, that a man or woman wearing an orange vest, hardhat and clipboard may not *necessarily* be what he claims.