Dear Mr. Latimer, I am struggling with an issue and hope you can give me some guidance. I recently made a purchase in a preparedness business that opened in a neighboring town. The owner of the store had several questions regarding my life and specific questions about my level of preparedness. His questioning was more than trying to sell his products. (What supplies do I have? Describe the location and terrain of my home. What water sources do I have? What are my neighbors like? Am I a member of a group? et cetera) I understand his reasoning, but I was uncomfortable, to say the least. I was the only customer in the store, but I was still very vague in my answers and paid for my purchase with cash in order to remain anonymous.
The business owner was relentless about having me attend monthly meetings with a like-minded group he is a part of. They have monthly guest speakers, some of whom I do not trust at all. One was a law enforcement member whose character is questionable. I do not know this businessman and am not ready to join with him at this time. I have a group of friends and family who I feel comfortable with, and I do not want to jeopardize them or our preparations and safety. This gentleman gave me information about others in his group, which also made me uncomfortable. Although vague, I now have information that could be used against them, if I were that kind of person, which I am not.
I feel that this man and his group have supplies that could be of benefit to my group, but my locations are of a much greater benefit to him. I own two rural properties with multiple water sources, including a natural spring. My secondary location, a 40 acre farm, borders a national forest and has natural boundaries that make it difficult to gain access from two directions. I have nurses, a medical doctor, farmers, and police officers that are friends of mine, and I have various blue collar workers as neighbors at both locations. I also have a third location owned by my cousin that is very rural with natural boundaries that make it an excellent bug-out location, too. In fact, it isn’t easily found or accessed. You have to know how to get there in order to find it.
At what point do I make connections with other groups? How do I find them? How much do I trust them? How much information do I give them? If they are telling me information about their group members, I know they will tell information about me. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with others. Sincerely, – C. L.
JWR Responds: When it comes to group dynamics and inter-group contacts, each situation is unique. So I can’t give you specific guidance. All that I can tell you with safe assurance is:
- Be wise with whom you associate.
- Be cautious about what you reveal.
- Assume that anything that you tell anyone “in confidence” always has a good chance of being revealed to others.
In general, I recommend that you handle information about yourself, your group, your retreat, and your preps the same way that military and intelligence agencies handle classified information: Strictly on a “need to know” basis, with compartmentalization. – JWR