3. PLANNING A HIT
3.1 Coordination vs. mindless vandalism
It is necessary to make the distinction between a eco-sabotage
'hit' and vandalism. A hit is aimed at a specific site, for a
specific reason - sometimes you may only be hitting one part of
a large site. Vandalism on the other hand is a frenzy of activity
which gives no thought to the purpose for which it is being carried
The main factor in a 'hit' is the minimisation of risk to yourselves,
and other human beings/animals involved on that site. The hit
should not leave traps or damage which might cause someone to
be harmed. It should not cause uncontrolled pollution of the environment.
Note here the use of the word uncontrolled, since a hit may involve
small amounts of pollution through the spilling of fuel, hydraulic
fluid, and the generation of large quantities of waste equipment.
You must be aware of this fact and plan to minimise pollution
- for example, the uncontrolled release of oil or fuel may mean
that fuel enters storm drains, or is washed by the rain, ultimately
ending up as a huge slick in the local river.
A good hit does not happen out of the blue (or, at least, rarely).
Planning is essential for three reasons...
- It means you know the site, know what is involved, and you
can get in and out with as little trouble as possible;
- You know what equipment to take with you - an essential consideration
since the lots of the wrong equipment will not get you very far,
whereas a little of the right equipment can enable you to cause
- It stops you getting caught! As well as planning on site to
avoid security/staff, you should plan your entry, getaway and
alibis to ensure that you will never be associated with the incident.
3.2 Selecting a site
Primarily, you should always have a justifiable reason for what
you are doing. In practice, an earth mover working to build a
children's playground does not pose a problem, but an earth mover
working on a road project that destroys the countryside does.
You must consider, add appropriate weight to the material considerations,
and then ultimately justify any act you propose to carry out.
3.2.1 'Viable targets'
You must select the target, taking into account the threat it
poses. The response should then be in proportion to this threat.
If a farmer is deliberately destroying a wildlife site then the
proportionate action would be to take out those pieces of equipment
that the work is being done with - what would not be justifiable
would be burning down the whole barn with the equipment in.
There is also the idea of 'escalation'. The harder you hit a site,
the more action the operator is going to take to protect the equipment.
This means that it is more difficult to do a properly directed
hit and you may have to resort to indiscriminate means of action
such as fire, taking out power supplies, etc. Always have a thought
out plan for what will happen if you do not succeed in stopping
the action first time - do not needlessly escalate the conflict.
Finally, the hit should be justifiable to the public at large
- as ultimately they are the people who will pass judgement. It
does not matter what the police or the site owner think - if somebody
is doing something perceived by the public as 'bad', then your
taking action will secure public support. Indiscriminate action
that causes pollution, harm to people, animals or the wider countryside
will not receive general acceptance.
3.2.2 Collective or individual operations
Next you must decide how you plan to hit the site. Can it be done
by yourself alone (my preference - I don't like incriminating
others), or will you need help?
If you decide that others will be involved this sets up certain
problems. For example, who makes decisions? Who takes on what
task? If one person is caught, what do the others do? All these
matters need to be resolved before you hit the site.
3.2.3 One-off or attrition hits
Finally, you must decide what your hit is designed to achieve,
and what will happen in the future. There are three key considerations...
l How many chances will you get to hit the site? If there is little
security you will be able to take out equipment with few considerations
about getting caught. However, you will probably not get the same
l Next, are you trying to close the place down, or just remove
the offending problem? This will determine the weight of your
l Finally, is the objective best achieved by a one-off super destructive
hit where you take out the entire site, or would nibbling away
here and there over a period of time achieve a better result?
Having decided what the priority is, you should plan accordingly.
Reconnaissance is essential. It is what enables you to get into,
move around, and get out of a site without getting lost, hurt
or caught. It also enables you to assess the needs of the hit
in terms of equipment.
Maps are important - mainly in getting on and off the site. As
well as having one way in, it is a good idea to have more than
one way out. For example, where a site is close to a river, a
railway line and a main road, which is the safest means of access?
These factors can be assessed from the map, and then tested/observed
on the ground before the hit.
The maps I use most are the 1:25,000 scale 'Pathfinder' Ordnance
Survey maps. These provide details of the land in the area, field
boundaries, roads, footpaths, and any nearby buildings.
There are two ways to get a map of the site:
l Ordnance Survey, at a HMSO and specialist map shops around the
country, print up to date digital maps at 1:10,000 or 1:1,000
scale, showing the most recent information on a site. These maps
cost around £40. The 1:10,000 maps, and sometimes the 1:1,000
maps can also be found in many local libraries, but they tend
to be a few years out of date.
l At some point someone must have applied for planning permission
for the site. The planning permission, together with detailed
site maps, building drawings and details of any plant on site
are kept on 'public registers' with the local planning authority
- normally the District council. However, care must be exercised
or someone may connect a hippy inspecting the planning file one
week, with the destruction of that site the next.
If few details are available about the site from maps or planning
permissions, the next best option is to get some photographs.
One warning about this - never get the photographs developed by
a postal service, and if you take them to a shop, never take them
to a shop near the site you intend to hit.
Also, once you have planned the hit, get rid of the photos the
day before you carry the hit out. Never dump the photos in the
rubbish - either dispose of them elsewhere or keep them in your
stash (if you keep them in the stash, wipe off any finger prints
3.3.3 Activity schedules
Where the site is part of a business, or someone lives there,
you should watch the place for a week or two to get an idea of
when people come and go. Even on a site which is continually occupied,
there may be a window of opportunity when you can get in, carry
out the hit, and get out again.
Also, if the hit is dependent upon the presence of particular
equipment or goods, keeping a watch will allow you to plan the
hit for when the target is there.
3.3.4 Security details
When carrying out reconnaissance, never barge up to the perimeter
fence and start taking photos! Approach any site with caution.
Check for the presence of alarm systems, closed circuit TV (CCTV)
cameras, security patrols, guard dogs, or even infrared/microwave
motion detectors mounted in the open ground or inside buildings.
If you discover any security precautions, you will have to find
a way to bypass these systems.
You should also be aware that there is increasing use of CCTV
in towns across the UK. If you have to drive or walk through an
area with CCTV to reach the target, then they only have to check
the tapes to get your mugshot/car registration.
Also, because of the threat of sabotage, it is possible that equipment
may be alarmed - equipment similar to car alarms is relatively
simple to fit to earth movers, and fitting building security systems
to a barn or equipment compound is not that difficult. As a general
precaution the first thing I do when confronted with an earth
mover is check for alarms. I disconnect any horns or sirens first
before doing anything else. Even then, use caution when working.
Things which have easy external access are unlikely to be alarmed
- but lift the bonnet and all hell could break loose. Even when
things have been alarmed there are ways around the problem - filling
the alarm siren full of mastic for example.
If anything goes wrong - if security guards or the police turn
up, if you set off all the alarm systems, or if you hurt yourself
and need the quickest route out - it is planning the hit that
will save you from ultimate imprisonment and the curtailing of
your sabbing career. The planning process can be broken down into
a number of simple topics or stages. In effect this section reproduces
what goes through my mind when I plan any hit.
Selecting your means of access and exit is as important as the
sabbing itself. You may need to get into somewhere avoiding security
cameras or floodlighting. To get out you may need to chop through
If possible I prefer to have different routes of access and exit
- this is sensible because if your means of access is discovered,
a hole in the fence for example, then it does not preclude your
planned means of escape.
Don't just plan the access and exit to the site itself either
- plan the whole route from the point where you leave your transport
through to where you are picked up again. Sometimes it is better
to walk three miles across country rather than have to drive a
car down the road running to the site.
As well as your means of access and escape, if anything goes wrong
you will need to ensure an alternative route. For example, one
site I hit had a railway on one side and a river down the other,
but only one road running to the site itself. Had the road been
blocked it would have been easy to just run down the railway track,
or even just jump in the river and float away.
If you can get someone to drop you off, it is always better if
you can be picked up somewhere else so as not to attract attention.
If you have to rely on yourself for transport you will need to
ensure that your car/bike is not visible - it may even be worth
investing in some camouflage netting from your local army surplus
store if there is a lack of natural cover.
If there are staff on site you will have problems. If the guards
just sit in their hut, never walk around and do not have CCTV,
you can get in, do the biz and get out fairly easily - you will
just have to adapt your methods to be silent.
The problem normally arises when you are not aware that people
are there, until you are confronted by them. You should have picked
up the likelihood of staff being on site when you carried out
your initial reconnaissance - but sometimes things happen as you
expect them to.
If confronted by someone - just leg it. Don't provoke a confrontation.
Any sensible person would not chase someone who was carrying a
hammer or crowbar. If you are cornered, just give up - resistance
will count against you in court.
It is possible to plan alternatives where staff are on site. You
can arrange a distraction - though this will not give you very
long to work. Alternately you could use the 'cry wolf' approach.
You keep cutting holes in the fence and setting off alarms for
a few weeks, but not actually entering the site. Over this time
the staff will become tired of the incidents, and will not treat
it seriously. Then, one night, you actually do do something.
If all else fails, and you are sure that you must carry out the
hit, you can passively 'neutralise' the staff. This approach only
really works with portakabins. While the staff are inside, block
the doors and cut the phone/electricity cables. Then, while confusion
reigns in the cabin and they haven't sussed that breaking the
windows is the only way out, do the hit. If you block someone
inside where there is no possible means of escape, always phone
the police straight away to release them when you've got out.
As part of your reconnaissance you should get as much detail as
possible of the equipment on site, and its design and construction,
in order to assess your tooling needs. You could turn up with
the standard kit, outlined earlier, but if you can tailor your
tooling resources to the equipment concerned, you will get a better
Getting into the site is very important - particularly if there
are people around. You may need to devise a way of getting in
which does not attract attention - particularly if you want to
use the same route out again.
When scoping a site for entry I have a few basic tactics:
- Fences: Go through them, not over them - if you have
bolt cutters it won't take any longer, and there is less risk
of being spotted. (Tip - with chain link fences, just cut the
same thread of wire in the fence top, bottom, and three or four
places in between, then pull out the wire with your pliers. The
fence will then just fall into two.)
- Roads: Try and keep off them. If there are hedges or
walls, travel behind them until you get to the site.
- Walls: Not much option but to go over - in which case
you may need extra equipment. I would not rely on exiting over
a wall, just in case someone takes your ladder away.
- Ditches/rivers: These can provide good cover, so long
as they have a dry bank. If you can, cross the water coming in
- it's always better to work dry. If you have to you can always
splash through on your way out.
- Gates: If the gate is not locked - fine. If it is,
you'll need bolt cutters to get the padlock off. If possible try
and get a padlock which looks the same so that you can remove
it on your way out without problems. Never leave a cut padlock
in view - it's a sure sign to a passing policeman that someone's
- Doors: Doors are problematic. They are very easy things
to alarm, either with mechanical micro-switches or magnetic reed
switches. If in doubt, you may always try going through the door
itself, but the cutting operations will be noisy.
- Open concrete yards/grass: I avoid any open area, especially
around factories/offices. Open areas are perfect for using CCTV
to pick people up. Another example of open areas to avoid are
power stations. Most power stations have clear paths cut through
the undergrowth around them. This is because specialised microwave
beams run down the avenues, and will sound an alarm when broken
by anything more than 2 feet tall.
You will have to consider the options for your own site and work
3.4.5 Workplan and timing
I always stick to a work plan. I calculate how long it will take
to travel to the point of access; enter the site; travel within
the site; sabotage each piece of equipment; exit the site; and
travel back to my transport. I also work an order in which to
hit each thing, taking into account problems such as being seen,
setting off alarms, accommodating staff movements. This may seem
unduly rigid, but it is a very effective way of disciplining yourself
to do what you came to do, and get out. Also, where considerations
such as police patrols, staff change-overs, or covering yourself
with an alibi are concerned, timing is essential.
After some practice you will be able to look at the equipment
you want to take out and for each one estimate the time to complete
the work. Alternatively, if all the equipment is the same (e.g.,
all the hits are on earth movers), think of a reasonable time
and multiply it by the number of hits. Work out the whole programme
of events in your mind, and rehearse it in your head for a few
days before the event. Then, when you get inside, you won't have
to waste time thinking about what to do.
A key consideration in the workplan, if not working alone, is
when you are due to be picked up by your transport. When working
with others, if I give a precise time to be picked up, and I will
ensure that, to the second, I am there. If, for example, travelling
into the site takes longer than you anticipate, you should assume
your trip out takes long too, and deduct time from your work allocation.
Never let your transport sit around, or endlessly circle past
waiting for you - it attracts attention. If possible, always arrange
a place where you can wait for your transport without being seen,
then you will not have to worry if you arrive early.
3.4.6 Special considerations
"The best laid plans of mice and men...." - there
is always something you didn't think of. You have to take this
into account. Give thought to what happens if you lose a screwdriver,
or what happens if the thing you want to hit is not there.
In terms of planning, the biggest consideration must be how you
use the time - and how the availability of it affects your use
of tools. If you were planting incendiary devices, you want them
all to go off at the same time. Likewise, if you are relying on
staff using the equipment as normal in the morning to give your
work, e.g. abrasives in the sump, time to work, then you will
need to cover your work. This all takes extra time.
Consider also situations which may assist/prevent the hit. For
example noise may be a prime consideration, but if you hit in
the middle of a heavy rain storm, the noise of the wind and falling
rain may cover the noise you make. Likewise, the hit may require
travelling long distances cross-country to reach the site, which
is best done under a full moon. But if it is cloudy that night,
you may have to abort - perhaps until the next full moon. The
best way to take problems and setbacks into consideration is to
allocate extra time in your workplan.
3.5 Execution - an example
The plan on the following page shows an area of quarries near
the Peak District. Let's assume for the moment that the site needs
to be hit because of the damage that it causes to a nearby wildlife
site. How do we go about making a detailed workplan of how to
carry out the hit?
The following sections take you through the process of planning,
in essence, "the perfect crime". It may sound
an elaborate, or excessive procedure to follow but unless you
consider all the options, at some time, you are more likely to
Figure 50: Example of target
Conceptualisation is all about visualising the task in your head,
and finding ways to solve it. The best place to start is to actually
visit the site, or check it out on a map, and then check your
solutions later when you recon. the site.
The previous page gives a map of the site to be hit. It presents
a number of problems and opportunities...
In considering the problem, we must 'characterise' all these key
features of the hit, and produce appropriate responses to each.
In considering if the hit is feasible, I would consider matters
such as 'will the hit achieve the required result?', as well as
the more conventional 'can I do it?' questions.
If you can justify the action, and if, when considering the key
problems/opportunities the site presents you can come up with
realistic solutions to the problem, then you can carry on to the
Having considered the problems, and thought up solutions, reconnaissance
will tell you if your solutions will work. It will also give you
essential information as to the layout of the facilities you want
to hit, what tooling will be required, and an idea of the timings
involved for the workplan.
For me, a proper recon. consists of the following things...
Bringing all this data together will give you your working plan.
When you have the results of your recon, start mapping out your
workplan. First, work out how much time you need to do the hit
on each piece of equipment, and what tooling you will need. Then,
taking into account travel times, work out how long you will be
inside the site. Finally, work out how long it will take to get
to and from your transport. This will give you the total time
the hit will take, and you will be able to plan schedules with
your associates and your alibis accordingly.
Just in case of incident, you should also plan an alternative
route out. Always assume when planning this route that someone
is after you, or that you have injured yourself. If you are relying
on someone else for transport, you will also need to arrange another
pick-up point, and a time to be there. Realistically the pick
up will need to be some distance from the site, or you will have
to consider finding your own way home cross-country.
As noted above, you must access the site in a way which does not
attract attention - especially if you intend to exit the same
If you are using your own transport, it will need to be stored
while you are away. This relies on two principles - camouflage,
or putting it where no one will think it out of place. For example,
a single car in a lay-by on the side of the road attracts attention.
A car in a pub car park, where there are many others parked, does
If you are being dropped off, don't waste time, Have all your
plans clear before you get there, arrive, gloves on, and quickly
exit the vehicle with your tools.
On the plan, there is a pub in the village. If you were sure of
getting back to the pub before closing time you could leave you
transport at the pub, and access via A2 - although you might arouse
interest if you returned covered in grease and hydraulic fluid.
Alternatively, you could be dropped off at A1, getting there without
travelling through the village, and return to E (my preference).
Do not proceed with the hit if it is obvious that it cannot be
achieved - this is usually when someone is present on the site
when you didn't expect it, or the conditions on the site have
changed, for example the weather, meaning that the hit cannot
take place. In these situations it is essential that you have
a way of travelling to the pick-up point, and that you can wait
there for your transport. Going back to the plan, you will actually
have more than one commitment point. There will be the point at
the site boundary, travelling from A1. If problems arose, you
simply go down the road to point 'X' and head for point 'E' or
'EE'. However, because there are two hit points, 'H1' and 'H2',
separated by a great distance, you should assess each one independently
and act accordingly.
The benefit of having a plan of work is that you don't waste time
on site. You know where to go, you know what to hit and what tools
you have to do the job. If there is more than one of you, you
should also work out specific responsibilities for working. If
you must abandon the workplan, then by necessity, this should
entail aborting the whole hit.
If your planning work was conducted well, things should not go
wrong. Things only go wrong because you did not consider them
during the planning stage, or they were not anticipated. If things
go wrong, don't hang around, make for the exit. If necessary,
because the exit route is not available, use your alternative.
If you are injured, there are various options. If alone, you should
try and make it out straight away, but if this is not possible,
accept defeat, and raise the alarm/find help. If there is more
than one of you then there is always the possibility of help.
If you are cornered, or caught, give in - they probably have a
reasonable identification for you by then anyway.
Leave as planned. If you have to use another route out, use your
alternative. If you abandon your plan you risk getting lost, trapped,
or seen by people/guards/police/CCTV. The only time to abandon
your exit route is when there is no alternative because you are
being pursued. Under normal circumstances, return to your transport.
If you have planned accordingly, you should turn up a few minutes
early and have somewhere to wait out of view. It is also a good
idea to have some soap and water so that you can wash off any
identifying dirt and grease. It is also a good idea to change
your footwear before getting your pick-up, or if there is no time,
put some plastic carrier bags around your feet to prevent incriminating
dirt/soil getting inside the vehicle.
If possible, do not go home immediately. Go to your stash and
dump your tools. You should also consider changing clothes and
footwear and leaving it there too. You should also wash off if
you haven't done so already. If you have any containers or rubbish,
try and get rid of them, or leave them in your stash - don't take
anything home. Then, go home, relax, or better still, party!
The prime motive in planning a hit is to avoid detection and capture,
and having done that, hiding all the incriminating evidence which
may associate you with the incident. This will often be enough
since if the hit was small, the site operator may not report it
(in fact, it may be in their interest not to regularly report
things because it gives them adverse publicity, and may increase
their insurance premiums).
However, in cases where you can expect lots of trouble afterward,
you should consider arranging an alibi. There are a number of
From experience, you will have an irresistible urge to go back
and view your damage the next day when it has been discovered
- try and avoid doing this. Unless you hit on a main road or the
side of a railway line (so you can view as you travel by), or
within view of a well used public building which you have legitimate
business being in, going back to the site will only draw attention
The same goes for a 'return hit'. Let the heat die down - for
a week at least. Unless it is absolutely necessary I would not
return to hit the site again until one or two months later, or
I had evidence from other sources, unconnected with the original
hit, that things had calmed down.
Even then, be cautious. You should also recon. the site before
hitting again to be certain that no new security systems have
been established, and that work patterns have not changed.