I was at a friend’s home over the weekend and he had his TV on in the background whilst we talked and had a mug of tea.
One of the programmes that was on, (I think he had recorded it), set up the proposition of a team having to avoid being captured by a group of chasers. If the team avoided capture, they won. If they were captured, the chasing side won.
Much of it to me seemed staged for entertainment purposes.
Is it possible to vanish into thin air these days?
That was what I asked my friend as I did not think it was possible to simply vanish anymore and live a realtively normal life. He didn’t agree, so I decided to go through my reasoning why I thought it was not possible.
- Mobile telephones. Tracers love mobile phones. They all have GPS circuits in them these days ‘so the owners can use location services‘ to find products and services nearby. Of course the flip is, pinging the phone the other way around gives the the location of the phone, and most likely the user, often to surprisingly accurate detail. When you make a phone call, or send a text message, the towers the digital information is routed through also gets logged allowing cell-site analysis techniques to be applied to get a location at a particular date and time.
- Digital currency. Personally I love to pay cash for things. If I haven’t got the cash I can’t have it. I use it as a credit control technique. However most of the population have debit / credit cards. Once that card is swiped the date, time and location are all a matter of record.
- CCTV. Closed Circuity TV is everywhere these days. I doubt you could walk down a high street without appearing on camera somewhere and as the cameras are used to provide evidence, where there’s a camera, there will also be a recording device to scoop up the images it captures. Streets, shops, car parks, public parks, libraries. You name it, chances are there will be a CCTV camera somewhere close by.
- ANPR cameras. Automatic Number Plate Reading cameras are great if your car has been stolen. But not if you simply want to vanish. Using ANPR technology your journey can be tracked step by step. Even some car parks are now using ANPR to prevent one motorist passing a ticket to another where there is still plenty of time left on it.
- News Channels. Thankfully, it is still regarded as a ‘big thing’ if someone disappears and normally this would generate plenty of coverage on news channels, particular local ones. Broadcast TV, Websites, Newspapers, every outlet would be given your picture and it would be wall-to-wall over the spectrum.
- Social Media. Social Media can spread messages like wildfire and has been used successfully to trace missing people. Sharing, Liking, Retweeting your image across the globe is not good for those who want to disappear.
All the above mean, in my mind at least, that it would be impossible to simply vanish from where you live now and start a new life somewhere else. You may not be caught straight away, but it would only be a matter of time.
So whilst it made for a relatively entertaining TV show, the reality is, unless you have substantial amounts of cash, you really can’t disappear anymore without criminally establishing a new, yet false, identity.
Unless you can tell me differently?