As frightening as it gets...
We very rarely have reason to be scared doing the job we do, after all, we are covert and not many people actually see us doing it. That said, there are times when we go into a situation not knowing quite how we are going to come out of it. Last night saw us in one of those times...
It was to be a very simple tracker collection. The client, now finished with the device, had removed it from her car and left it for us attached to her friends car just a few miles away in the Abbey Wood area of London. The theory behind doing this was that we could collect the tracker in the early evening with no fear of being spotted by the target.
If you know London, you may know that Abbey Wood is one of the more densely populated areas south of the river and is made up of many apartment buildings and high rise flats. Very close to Thamesmead, it is considered one of the more dangerous pockets of the city. Just last week, Police were called to a Stabbing on Wolvercote Road in the area. What we didn't know as we set out last night was that Wolvercote Road is in the very estate we were heading to (next to our collection address in fact) and tensions were still very high.
Pulling into our destination street, we scanned the area for the small parking lot connected to the flats we were heading for. We saw a group of people before we saw the car park. Spread across the road in front of us were around 10 or 15 of them, gathered around cars, listening to blaring music and drinking. They spread into small an area behind some flats where the main group (about 40 men and women) were hanging out. In the middle of the group was the car we were supposed to be taking the tracker off. Handy.
We accessed our options. Do we turn away and head back to MK empty handed with nothing to show for our 3 hour round trip, or do we just get on with it and dump our stereotypical fear that we were just about to be stabbed? As it transpired, the decision was made for us as before long we were noticed as the only white faces and the group began moving around the car, blocking our route out.
Swallowing hard, we got out of the car and walked towards our target vehicle. Whispers and nudges narrated our short journey through the throng of people. Still, we kept our heads held high and walked with confidence towards our prize, Pausing only briefly to detach our tracker from the car, we turned and walked back towards our vehicle. The silence at this point was deafening as around 40 sets of eyes burned into our backs. Trying to use my peripheral vision to identify threats without turning around, I stayed tense ready for the attack the Daily Mail had told me would come but in just a few seconds, we were free of the main crowd and just a few steps from our car. Unlocking it remotely, i heard the shout i was dreading. 'Oi, Stay there'
I turned to see a young black guy breaking free from the crowd and striding towards us. Anyone who hadn't spotted by then had by now, and the tension descended down like a fog.
'What the f*ck are you doing with the car?' He demanded
This is the point where pre-planning is everything. I had asked the client what her friends name was and this seemed to be my get out jail free card.
'Just picking up something that ******** had left for us, she's in flat 3'
The guys aggression faded almost instantly and his hands relaxed by his side
'Oh ok mate, no problem, sorry' He said as he made his way back the group. And that was it. No stabbing and no public execution, but still, the single scariest GPS collection to date.