Three non-descript individuals, all dressed in black overalls and black balaclavas, sit low in three folding kayaks, all carefully loaded with large waterproof cases, their unidentifiable forms the result of careful placement of camouflage netting and gross overloading of their once nimble craft. They hide amongst moored vessels and jetties, waiting for their signal to move.
These three individuals have been tasked to surreptitiously infiltrate a significant harbourside development and work they way to a reportedly secure records room where, providing all goes to plan, masses of highly sensitive information will be removed and returned to their secret headquarters for further action.
Sounds like a World War II movie? Sinn Fein terrorists in London? Perhaps something out of the latest Middle Eastern crisis? Nope, nope and nope. This is happening right now in a town near you.
Thankfully it’s all kosher and completely above board as this small band of merry men act out childhood fantasies and do their damnedest to scale the highest walls, defeat the most sophisticated alarms, pick the best locks and bypass the meanest looking security operatives to test and evaluate security systems throughout the country.
Originally land-based and land operative, this specialist team of security operatives have now developed a water-based approach facility as part of their ongoing fight against professional criminals. And what better water-based approach facility is there than the folding kayak? Silent, virtually undetectable and easily transported the world over, it is the ‘weapon’ of choice for effecting a surprise entry where it is least expected.
Filled to overflowing with electronic gizmos to bypass alarm systems, professional entry tools to bypass locks and gates, securely scrambled communications equipment and enough black bags to sink a ship, our three operatives wait in the silent, cold waters awaiting directions from a fourth individual who is watching from afar… the other side of the harbour to be precise. Equipped with long-range surveillance equipment she watches the movements within the target building and keeps a close eye on the operatives on the water.
She signals to the floating crew that all is OK to proceed, and they silently dip paddles into the dark water, moving slowly from their hiding places that have been their home for the past two hours.
The mission started two weeks earlier, when a high-level security analysis was requested of a harbourside location, with the requirement to test and confirm the validity of various security installations.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it. In theory, it is. Most clients, whether they be the smallest company or the largest government department, have neither the training or the inclination to see their security the way the professionals do. They look at their buildings, their empires, and marvel at what they have created. We look at it and marvel at how quickly we can destroy it.
It is our job to put dozens of years of experience to the test and think the way a burglar would, get into a terrorist’s mind and become the saboteur as we, the pretend criminal, invent, modify and execute ways to destroy in minutes what has taken people, companies and governments years to compile.
Think unconventionally. The real professional criminals do – they want what you’ve got and they’ve got what it takes to get it. We’ve got to have what it takes to both think like them and beat them.
That is why our three operatives are sitting in the middle of a harbour, freezing to the bone, walkie talkies and recording equipment strapped to their heads as they move towards a high stone wall and prepare to infiltrate the building in front of them. Unconventional? Yes. Extreme? Certainly. Would a professional criminal do this? Absolutely. This exact method has been used before to get at far less inviting targets than this one.
They extract a collapsible ladder from one kayak and effect an awkward but effective ascension of the slippery and wet wall. At the top of the wall two balaclava clad individuals assess their position and confirm what has previously been photographed days before, from over 500 metres away. This gate hasn’t been used for many years, and no-one has even bothered to check it in just as long a time. It’s been welded shut and covered in barbed wire. It’s surrounded by noxious weeds with rather nasty thorns. It’s next to a busy shipping channel with deep frontages that would make it virtually impossible to access. Why would anyone need to check it?
Because these particular individuals are here. Now. They are playing the professional criminal tonight, and they ‘want’ what the client has got, they’ve got what it takes to get it, and they’re gonna get it.
So what does the client have? What do these operatives want? Who is this mystery client? Where is this mystery location? Well… we can’t quite tell you who they are. We can’t tell you where they are. We can’t even tell you what they’ve got. But don’t you worry about that!
Whoever they are, whatever it is, it’s sufficiently important for them to have armed security officers protecting it with millions of dollars worth of sophisticated technology to back them up. Low-light surveillance cameras, multiple alarm systems, search lights, roving security patrols, safes, strongrooms, access control, locks, grilles, bars… the list goes on and on and on. What does this mean to the professional criminal in a kayak? Diddly squat at the moment. Whilst we’ve been pontificating here our two intrepid operatives have already made their way inside the external perimeter, having removed a small section of the ancient fence near the slippery wall, and they are currently hiding amongst the overgrown Lantana preparing their equipment for the next level.
The final kayaker has finished clipping two black cases onto a line thrown down from the operatives above and he paddles a silent line back towards the jetty from whence he came, waiting silently for the return of his energetic compatriots.
But what if they don’t return? What happens if these fellows get caught? Are they whisked off to gaol for eternity? Do they get publicly flogged? Thankfully no (or “Alas no” depending on your bent), as the whole scenario is a set-up, a carefully orchestrated exercise where all parties involved know full well what is going on. Doesn’t this make it unfair I hear you ask? How does this truly test the security when they know we’re coming?
Good questions. The client knows we’re coming on Thursday. They know we’re planning an assault on their top level offices during the night. They even know what we’re trying to take. Shame it’s only Tuesday…
The three kayaks are now safely moored out of sight and our two intrepid operatives make their way through varying levels of vegetation and industrial refuse to the rear of the building.
Much of the rest of this story must now be censored following an outcry from the company legal advisors, but suffice to say the two sneaky salts managed to infiltrate where they wanted, grabbed a bagful of loot and made their way, precariously, back to the entry point without missing a beat… but missing plenty of uniformed men running amuck and screaming at no-one in particular.
Anyway… back to the water where we can start talking about kayak-related stuff again. Although it’s hard to determine how many Club members frequently load their kayaks from 10 feet above, suffice to say it works… almost. The bounty is lowered without incident and stored safely below deck. Same goes for the first of the two equipment cases, and it is moved to the rear deck of one of the kayaks.
Alas the second equipment case does not travel the way it was intended and it crashes onto the deck of a Feathercraft K-Light and the sickening sound does not bode well with our operatives. A few bent aluminium tubes seem to be the only damage, and at least the profile is now looking less and less like a kayak and more like a by-product of some nuclear holocaust. Thankfully the three damaged tubes are easily replaced with a phone-call the following morning, but in the meantime it makes paddling a little uneasy, with some 25 kilos of weight above the deck and not a lot of support under the deck.
Nevertheless the three black-clad bodies make their way safely back to their launching site without a care and without a capsize. Have you ever tried rolling a kayak with a caravan strapped to the deck?
Nothing important got wet, nothing was lost (not on our part anyway), and after several weeks of reporting, lecturing, demonstrating and instructing, we now have one more highly satisfied client who is a lot more secure and more importantly, the newest admirer of the humble folding kayak.
So what was this story all about? Not a lot really… just a little insight into new and innovative uses for the humble kayak. A little peek into a world that doesn’t start until it gets dark and ends long before it gets light again. A world that is often filled with nasty people and illegal goings-on that we don’t often know about or don’t want to know about. Thankfully there are these strange individuals who do want to know about these nasty people, who do want to stop these illegal goings-on… and thankfully they now have kayaks to do it in.
The authors are fully licensed, highly-trained security operatives who operate strictly within the confines of the law to test, evaluate, analyse and report on the security facilities and measures of paying clients. Operations are strictly monitored and audited by law enforcement professionals.