While reading “Hour Game” by David Baldacci I came upon a narrative that screemed OPSEC better than anything I’ve read or seen on TV lately. Never under estimate the threat – in any situation…
He watched the old couple totter out of the supermarket and ease into their Mercedes station wagon. He wrote down the license plate number. He would run it later on the Internet and get their home address. They were doing their own shopping, so they probably had no live-in help or grown children nearby. The make of the care was relatively new, so they weren’t surviving solely on Social Security. The man wore a cap with the logo of the local country club. That was another potential gold mine of information he might later tap.
He sat back and waited patiently. More prospects were sure to come in the busy shopping center. He could consume all he wanted without ever once taking out his wallet.
A few minutes later an attractive woman in her thirties came out of a pharmacy carrying a large bag. His gaze swung to her, his homicidal antennae twitching with interest. The woman stopped at the ATM next to the pharmacy, withdrew some cash and then committed what should have been classified as a mortal sin for the new century: she tossed the receipt into the trash before climbing into a bright red Chrysler Sebring convertible. Her vanity plate read “DEH JD.”
He quickly translated that to be her initials and the fact that she was a lawyer, the “JD” standing for Juris Doctor. Her clothes told him she was fastidious about her appearance. The tan on her arms, face and legs was deep. If she was a practicing lawyer, she probably had just come back from vacation or else had visited the tanning booth over the winter. She was very fit-looking, her calves particularly well developed. His gaze had fixed on the gold anklet she wore on her left leg as she climbed in her car. That was intriguing, he thought.
She had a current-year American Bar Association bumper sticker, so the odds were she was still practicing law. And she was also single – there was no wedding ring on her finger. And right next to the ABA bumper sticker was a parking permit for a very expensive gated residential development about two miles from here. He nodded appreciatively. These stickers were very informative.
He parked, got out of the Bug, walked over to the trash can, made a show of throwing something away and in the same motion plucked out the ATM receipt. The woman really should have known better. She might as well have tossed her personal tax return in the trash. She was now naked, completely open to any probing he wanted to do.
When he got back to his car, he looked a the name on the account: D. Hinson. He’d look her up in the phone book later. And she’d also be in the business listings, so he’d know which law firm in town she worked at. That would him two potential targets. Banks had started leaving off some of the numbers of the account because they knew their customers stupidly disposed of their receipts where they were easy picking for people like him.
He kept trolling under the warming sun. What a nice day it was shaping up to be. He reclined slightly in his seat only to perk up when off to his right a soccer mom started loading groceries in her van. He wasn’t guessing there: she wore a T-shirt that announced her status. An infant rode in the car seat in the rear. A green bumper sticker announced that the woman was the mom of an honor roll student at Wrightsburg Middle School for the current school year.
Good to know, he thought: seventh or eighth grader and an infant. He pulled into the space next to the van and waited. The woman took the cart back to the front of the store, leaving the baby completely unguarded.
He got out of the Bug, leaned into the van’s open driver’s side window and smiled at the baby, who grinned back, chortling. The interior of the van was messy. Probably so was the woman’s house. If they had an alarm system, they probably never turned it on. Probably forgot to lock all the doors and windows too. It was a wonder to him that the crime rate in the country wasn’t far higher what with millions of idiots like here staggering blindly through life.
An algebra book was in the backseat; the middle school child’s, no doubt. Next to it was a children’s picture book, so there was at least a third child. This deduction was confirmed by the presence of a pair of grass-stained tennis shoes in the rear floorboard; they looked to be those of a five- or six-year-old boy.
He glanced in the passenger seat. There is was: a People magazine. He looked up. The woman had just slammed the cart back into the rack and had now paused to talk to someone coming out of the store. He reached in and drew the magazine toward him. Name and home address were on the mailing label. He already had her home phone number. She’d helpfully put it on the For Sale sign on the window of her van.
Another bingo. Her keys were in the ignition. He placed a piece of soft putty over the ones that looked like house keys, taking quick impressions. It made the breaking in and entering part a lot easier when you didn’t have to “break” when you “entered.”
A final home run. Her cell phone was in its holder. He looked up. She was still gabbing away. Had he been so inclined he could have killed the kid, stolen all her groceries and torched the car, and the woman would never even know it until someone started screaming at the flames shooting into the sky. He glanced around. People were far too busy with their lives to notice him.
He snatched the phone, hit the main screen button and got her cell phone number. The he accessed her phone book, took a digital camera the size of his middle finger from his pocket and snapped pictures of screen after screen until he had all the names and phone numbers in her directory. He returned the phone, waved bye-bye to baby and slipped back into his car.
He went over his list. He had her name, home address and the fact that she had a least three kids and was married. The mailing block had been addressed to both Jean and Harold Robinson. He also had her home phone number, cell phone number and the names and numbers of a host of others important to her as well as impressions of her house keys.
She and her lovely family belong to me now.
Keep the Faith
Who Wrote The Book Of Love – The Monotones