The following observations are geared toward expats or even locals living in the Third World, although most would apply as well to residents of the First World.
Here in México, there have been countless horror stories, albeit, most of them not life threatening and essentially not classifiable as DEFCON 1 situations. Both expats and locals have been the victims of countless assaults. An acquaintance on the street was recently told simply to hand over his money and music player.
Another fellow, a philosopher, became inspired at midnight on a city street and only had his laptop to record his divine whispers. Not soon after, a guy hit him with a stick, grabbed his laptop and ran off toward a taxi in waiting. As the philosopher chased him, the taxi ended up backing into the victim and he rolled over the car, as dozens of bystanders did nothing. He suffered no serious injury.
Yet another instance was when a man was getting out of his vehicle, he was approached by a robber while accomplices waited in a vehicle nearby. The robber wanted everything including the man’s watch. It had been a gift from dead grandparents and he told him you can have everything but you’re not taking the watch, respect the dead. He got lucky keeping his life as the thief drove away in the man’s vehicle. It was later found stripped to the bone for the spare parts black market. He had been complaining to his landlord to install a security fence for the driveway for exactly this reason, to no avail.
A final example was when an expat had recently been arrested by a mini-brigade of armed federal police pointing automatic weapons at him and a companion, for driving his own car. He had apparently tried for years to clear his car’s name, as it had been stolen and recovered. It still registered as stolen in police databases. The police most likely knew it was his, but detained him for eighteen hours in a jail cell smeared with excrement and swarming with mosquitoes. They were surprised when his lawyer showed up, essentially catching them red handed. It seems they were either looking for a bribe or to take the car. It is important to note that this particular individual generally is one who is generally a bit careless hence his frequent run in with trouble.
My home had been broken into while on vacation. The three things the thief got away with? One was an old ounce of silver on my coffee table. Next, he spotted a pack of Marlboro’s I kept as a prank for friends. Needles to say, I found one of my exploded cigarettes on the floor. Finally, he took my desktop replacement laptop only to discover once he got home, that it had gone completely defunct about a week prior. He also had missed an ounce of gold I had hidden away (which has since been relocated).
After this relatively harmless wake-up call, I have begun to take certain vigilant measures.
Although my laptop was defunct, it may have been possible to recover any personal data I may have had on the hard disks. I immediately changed all my passwords. What I am doing now is to encrypt my personal data via free software such as True Crypt. Because I also occasionally hear of daytime break-ins via friends of friends, I keep my computer secured via laptop locks. If I leave for extended periods, I move the laptop to a safe place outside of the home or take it with me. It is good to have a safe place such as work or the home of someone you can trust to care of any valuables. I have not owned a television for over half a decade. I also use an extension internet cable in the home and not wireless both to mitigate health issues from Electro Magnetic Pollution (EMP) and security risks associated with hackers. I do the same at work to lessen the effect of the Wi-Fi signal.
One lesson I had learned was to find a better hiding place for any metals I may have around. I was lucky the thief had not found my ounce of gold, but this just goes to show that it was likely somebody who lacked experience this time around. The key is to think of smarter locations to place these valuables. An additional trick would be to leave easier to find bait so as to deter interest from the real stash. Also, one can diversify by holding both local and foreign allocated metals accounts. There are local banks where you can open silver accounts and you always have the option of safety deposit.
The window bars which the thieves pried open on the front of the house were cheap. They were immediately replaced with thicker bars. I was also amazed that I had overlooked the simple placement of a wooden stick between the window and the window frame, so as to prevent someone from being able to push the window open in the case they are able to pry their way in (the same has been done to all windows).
I went out and bought motion detection lights for the front of the home. I also have purchased a few high voltage stun guns. One thing residents and citizens must do is investigate local laws. I have recently acquired my firearms license from my home state which, though not valid in a foreign country, may prove useful. I have spoken to military and it is legal for citizens or residents to purchase a firearm of a caliber lower than what is currently used by national forces. I plan to purchase a firearm for the home and a safe in which to store it. There is also an Israeli IDF soldier which runs a Krav Maga center with whom I have taken courses. I plan to make it a regular habit to attend his firearms seminars as well as self-defense courses. In most cases, you will not want to walk around with much money, so if you are confronted, you should most likely give up what cash is on you. Depending on your assessment of the situation, you may need to prepare for action if the thieves want more than just your cash and put you in a life or death situation.
Each trip to the store means buying a few extra of each item in order to stock up. Extras are stored in bins and rotated. Seeing as the water from the tap is not fit to drink (and in some instances come out discolored), filters have been placed on the shower and faucet to provide clean water for cooking, brushing teeth (with non-fluoride toothpaste) and showering. I believe fluoride is not added to the water here, but the water is otherwise of horrid quality, containing all types of pollutants, metals and chemicals. Drinking water here normally is purchased filtered in twenty liter containers. I keep four or more at a time, which would last me a good while were anything to happen. It really only rains here during the rainy season which lasts for three to four months, but a small rain collection unit would be possible to install.
I also keep a good stock of liquor, beer and wine, this not generally for personal consumption, but for guests as well as possible barter use. I now am planning to start growing food on the roof to supplement purchases and serve as a reserve. There are increased reports of the spread in common food of genetically engineered organisms so I make it a point to purchase “organic” (or what our grandparents used to call just “food”). I also use a regimen of about a dozen of the top supplements one can take, many of which have been suggested by “Over the Counter Natural Cures” and include astaxanthin, curcumin, vitamin K2, krill oil, spirulina, chlorophyll, mushrooms, CoQ10, milk thistle, melatonin, colloidal silver and alpha-lipoic acid. It is also important to purchase brands which at least do not contain conventional magnesium stearate, which is used in the manufacturing process. I also keep items such as potassium iodide, water purification pills and filters on hand, such as the Swiss made Katadyn pocket filter. A survival backpack that would last a week is also stashed and ready to go.
I keep my car well-maintained and take it in regularly for a tune-up so as not to be surprised by malfunctions at times or in places where you really wouldn’t want to be stuck. Unfortunately, I have seen people here, who are generally short-sighted, suffer continuously for lack of foresight. They would wait instead until the problem gets really bad before they deal with it. One person had a leaking radiator and because they continued to drive it for a few days, ended up having to spend almost $1000 on repairing a number of parts destroyed as a result of the malfunctioning radiator.
I keep essential items such as jumper cables, quick tire inflation can, medical kit, blankets and such stored in the trunk. I also keep a spare ten-liter canister ready to go in the case of any fuel disruption. The spare tire which is on the outside of the vehicle has been secured via a combination lock, as thieves have also been known to take those (happened recently to a friend). One neighbor had her car stereo stolen right out from under her nose in the middle of the night, as her vehicle was parked right below her bedroom window. The car only has a cassette player and there are no objects visible inside the car, so as not to give incentive to thieves. The car itself is an old used vehicle that doesn’t attract attention. It is wise to recall the instances of armed robbery here, which target high-value vehicles. All papers are kept in the glove compartment as well as printouts of my visa and relevant Mexican laws in case I get stopped by an unethical officer.
It is good to take out as much identification as possible. I not only have an American state driver’s license but a state ID, passport as well as card which would allow land travel through North America. I am also in the process of obtaining a local driver’s license. A second passport is a must. If the USSA intends to revoke my passport for whichever reason, I’ll have another to go on. I have heard from other expats, such as the Dollar Vigilante, that it is best to have two passports and to live in a third country of which you are not a citizen, in which case the government would have less power over you. Others have argued the contrary, where as a citizen, you have more tools for righting a wrong at your disposal.
These may seem like common sense preparations, but the funny thing is, literally 99.9% of the people I know haven’t got a clue. However, I have befriended a few like-minded individuals. One of them is a family man and we have discussed the collapse scenario. He has a well-fortified home with solar power. His benefit to having me join him in a time of crisis is adding protection for his family. A collapse scenario essentially is a numbers game and having an extra individual who is self-sufficient would not drain the person’s own resources.
I have accumulated this strategy gradually over time and though it hasn’t been cheap, it also hasn’t broken the bank. As a result, I sleep a bit sounder knowing that if there are disruptions, I’ll have less to worry about.