In this chapter, we look at a potpourri of tricks in the monkeywrencher's bag. Smoke bombs and stinkers, lock jamming, returning trash ... this is where the ecoteur can have fun! After all, we need to let our hair down once in a while. Enjoy. But don't forget security!
This chapter also includes ideas and techniques for urban and computer ecotage because we couldn't decide where else to pigeonhole them.
In this Third Edition of Ecodefense, we have dropped several items in the "harassment" line. For those interested in a wide array of clever and wicked methods to harass and torment individual evil-doers, we suggest you consult books like Get Even by G. Hayduke (not to be confused with Ed Abbey's George Hayduke). Such books are available from mail-order houses like Loompanics (POB 1197, Pt. Townsend, WA 98368).
The suggestion in previous editions of Ecodefense for mailing business reply mail taped to a brick back to the company will not work. The Post Office does not even send it. We have completely dropped that section.
No campaign of monkeywrenching is complete without consideration of urban area targets. Most corporations that ravage mountains, oceans, forests, and deserts are headquartered in major metropolitan areas. The decision-makers for these businesses feel secure and untouched by most monkeywrenching in the field, and their continuing callous actions reflect this isolation.
Attacks on urban targets will rattle the cage of the upper corporate echelon and force a more serious consideration of the issues involved. Operating in the urban area also provides the monkeywrencher with a wider range of targets. As security is increased at rural target sites, ecoteurs switch occasionally to less secure targets previously left untouched. These include equipment yards, sawmills, warehouses, corporate offices, and retail store outlets. Thus the offending business is forced to incur still higher costs as their penalty for Earth rape.
Even individuals should not feel completely exempt from true justice. The corporate structure routinely shields decision-makers from the consequences of their greedy acts. Corporate presidents, board members, and managers are rarely held accountable under the law, the usual punishment for crimes being a token fine paid by the corporation. Then it's back to business as usual, with violations of health, safety, and environmental laws simply better concealed than before.
When fixing blame for callous corporate activities, it is important to avoid field level managers simply carrying out orders. There are occasional exceptions to this, however, such as a militantly anti-environmental logging supervisor. Sometimes a local or on-site manager will seek to enhance his or her standing with the bosses by cost-cutting measures. This frequently occurs in the case of improper disposal of toxic waste. A plant manager will arrange for illegal disposal of hazardous materials rather than pay for proper removal. This increases the profitability of the operations, enhancing the manager's chances for a raise or promotion. Even when following orders in a case like this, the local manager is a knowing accomplice who is shielded by the law.
Imagine the chilling effect on destructive business activities if the owners and managers knew they might be held personally accountable. To spread the chill, publicity should accompany such hits. Efforts must be made to garner public attention through the press. Failing this, brief cautionary phone calls (Editor's note: security!) can warn key individuals that their office or home might be next. Raids on personal residences should be planned and executed carefully, so as to avoid any chance of injury to individuals such as might result from a face-to-face confrontation. For this reason, these raids should probably be limited to spray-painted slogans on walls and autos, and the like.
A great deal of concern has recently been expressed over the use of civil suits by corporations to silence legitimate opposition (SLAPPs, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). Land developers, timber companies, animal experimenters, and billboard companies have all filed suit against private individuals and public officials to stifle dissent and subvert regulatory laws. The immense financial resources of these corporations almost insures victory over their individual opponents. Even a victory in the courts for the activist/victim does not avert financial ruin, due to the high cost of legal services.
We may have already reached the point where only the monkeywrencher can deter this threat to liberty. The corporate decision-makers and their attorneys must be held accountable for their attempts to subvert the constitutional guarantee of free speech. They must be made aware that they face years of harassment if they attempt to misuse the court system to stifle opposition. If enough tension is generated, the legal system may actually move to curtail such abuse.
Attack on an Urban Residence
Any "hit" on an urban residence must be planned so as to avoid the possibility of a confrontation with the owner or a neighbor. Never use intrusive methods like window-breaking on any building where people live.
The best type of urban residential operation is an embarrassing slogan painted on highly visible walls. The slogan must be tailored to fit the crime, like "I poison your children" for the home of a toxic waste dumper.
Verify the accuracy of the address through at least two sources. The phone book and city directory may help, though these may not be up-to-date and many prominent people will not be listed in phone directories. Books like Who's Who and its various regional editions have biographies of many corporate types, and while they do not give street addresses, they at least pinpoint the community in which they reside, so that a little additional detective work may turn up the actual address. When you have a likely phone number, you can verify it by calling under some innocent-sounding pretext. Matching license plate numbers at the corporate parking lot and at home is a good way of being sure that your target actually resides at a given address. Another way would be to pose as a prospective property buyer and inquire at the county courthouse about who owns a particular residence. This information is a matter of public record.
Once you have a house pinpointed, study the layout of the neighborhood streets carefully. This will prevent your driver from inadvertently taking a dead-end street in an attempted escape. Scout by day and by night. Decide ahead of time exactly what slogans will go on what walls. Unpracticed sloganeers do stupid things like running out of space for a full message.
Check the target at the exact hour and night of the week just one week before the hit. This will reveal any routine activity for that day and time that might interfere with your plan.
Follow the basic security precautions outlined elsewhere. Make sure your license number can't be read. If possible, use a brief drop and pickup-style hit, but avoid stopping directly in front of the target home.
If, on the approach to the target, a neighbor or passerby sees you, scrub the mission and wait for another time. Be patient.
Hit at night or during cold or damp weather, all of which will keep the neighbors indoors. But never strike in the wee hours of the morning when no one else is on the road.
Never tamper with the mail box, as this may be a Federal offense.
The corporate criminal's car can be hit at home, at work, or in the grocery store parking lot. Smelly liquids or aerosols can be used on the interior, and paint stripper can be used (carefully!) to slogan on the paint of the auto's exterior. It is usually too dangerous to tool with the engine (like sanding the oil), but tires are easy to ruin.
Corporate offices may range from small "store-front" operations (such as a fly-by-night real estate developer might use) to the massive glass and steel office complexes favored by the big multinational corporations. Corporate offices are vulnerable to a wide variety of monkeywrenching techniques, including some tactics that would not be appropriate for a private residence. For instance, a quick night raid involving breaking windows (through which paint or stink bombs might be tossed for good measure) might be clearly justifiable for the offices of a corporate criminal, while a similar action at a private residence might be interpreted as life-threatening vandalism. Other appropriate tactics for corporate offices include lock jamming, spray painting slogans, dumping noxious effluent, and the like. These techniques will be covered later in this section.
At times, much favorable publicity can be obtained from an action against a corporate office in broad daylight and during working hours. Prime examples of this were the raids carried out against corporate offices in Chicago by "The Fox," who dumped raw sewage on the carpets of polluters. However, urban daylight operations are riskier than night operations, and require absolute precision in their execution. Following are some proven methods to follow:
Planning. Study the target building and surroundings in detail. Among the most important details are:
- Locations of doors and windows.
- Building security (i.e., guards and closed-circuit TV cameras).
- Parking (for lookouts and getaway car). Lighting (mainly important for night hits).
- Approaches and escape routes (don't rely on just one of each).
- Out-of-the-way access (loading docks, parking garages, etc.).
- Locations of possible witnesses.
Use any available pretext to examine the building layout. Dress like a typical businessperson and stroll about purposefully. Stop in as a pedestrian to ask for directions to a nearby building. Conservative-looking team members can inquire about renting office or convention space, and perhaps get a tour of the facility from the building supervisor. Always have a prepared story in case you are questioned. For detailed information, one of your team could try to get a janitorial job in the building (quit well before the hit, needless to say).
Detailed building plans may be on file and easily accessible at the office of the city or county building inspector. Pose as a prospective buyer (or buyer's representative), architectural student, etc.
If feasible, determine typical conditions ahead of the action by scouting the target both one week and one day prior to the hit (at the same time of day). This will reveal patterns of activity to expect at the time of your hit.
Consider a dry run to test your plan. Timing is important.
Getaway vehicles must blend in with the area. If you require certain parking spaces, be patient and wait until they open. To be safe, get there well in advance.
When necessary, use diversionary tactics. A smoke bomb set off safely in a planter might distract security. A well-timed phone call might distract a solitary receptionist in a front office waiting room.
Some type of disguise is usually a good idea. The basic type is an eye-catching garment that tends to distract eyewitnesses. A brightly-colored ski mask, scarf, shirt, or the like tends to dominate in the descriptions later given to police.
Wigs and fake mustaches can be bought cheaply at second-hand stores (like Goodwill) and at novelty shops. Use special wig cleaner (available at wig shops) to clean any second-hand wig. Wigs commonly cost five dollars or less.
Avoid elaborate disguises. Most don't look good close up, and may make someone suspicious. Shaving real facial hair or wearing a fake mustache can be an effective but simple disguise. See books like Corson's Stage Makeup (in most college libraries) for details on how to properly apply facial hair.
Such disguises are most effective if they can be quickly removed before one escapes the area or enters the getaway vehicle. The simplest method is to discard a garment while exiting the area. For example, a light jacket or second shirt worn on top of the first shirt (both bought at Goodwill) can be discarded in the trash, an unlocked closet, elevator, rest room, etc. Never discard a wig in this manner as it will invariably contain some of your hairs. Another disposal/quick-change method involves passing the items to a confederate totally different from you in appearance (for example, passing a brightly-colored shirt and wig from a man to a woman), with the receiver smuggling the items out in a large purse, shopping bag, or briefcase. This same person can also smuggle the disguise items into the target area for donning just prior to the hit.
Escape is the most critical item in your daylight raid plan. If foot pursuit is possible, a sack of BBs or bottle of cooking oil sloshed on a tile floor can delay pursuers, particularly in the confines of a hallway. If an elevator is necessary to the plan, have a confederate hold the door open to insure quick getaway. Also, don't neglect the fire stairs in high-rise buildings. Keep in mind that you can readily enter a fire escape stairwell, but locked doors prevent you from reentering the building (without the aid of a friend to open them from the inside). If there is a lobby security guard who might block a front door retreat, a well timed phone call might tie up the guard's phone and delay warning.
Yet another way to delay pursuit is to use a locking device on the door after you leave. A pre-positioned length of lumber can be run through door handles to delay pursuers. Study your prospective exit doors closely and use your imagination to design simple and quick methods to secure them after the hasty exit. The locking device must be concealed near the door just prior to the job, or be installed at the critical moment by a waiting accomplice.
Once you have fled the building, either walk inconspicuously to a waiting car or simply flee. If you plan to run, consider wearing a jogging suit and running shoes to avoid suspicion. Similarly, a bicycle can be used for a quick getaway without arousing the suspicions of passersby. The bicycle is usually used for a few blocks and then hauled away in a car or truck, or passed on to a confederate of totally different appearance, who calmly rides off.
Urban hits are far more effective if accompanied by a press communiqué. Such a communiqué must be delivered only after the successful operation. See the section on Media Relations in the Security chapter for further information about secure press contacts.
Fun With Slingshots
This versatile tool, available at large discount houses for a few dollars, can be used to knock out office windows from the relative safety of a passing car. In the illustration you will see the conventional type (a) and the more compact and easily concealed folding variety (b). Missiles must be small, dense and relatively round (c). Avoid irregularly shaped objects (d), as they don't fly true. Small rocks, steel bearings, and large nuts (e) are good. In illustration (f) you can see how one or two slingshotters can hit a target from a passing car. The hand holding the slingshot must not extend outside the vehicle (f). The driver must signal when it is safe, ensuring that the hit cannot be observed by nearby drivers. Avoid using your brake lights or deliberately slowing down and then making a fast getaway. Try a couple of practice sessions on a remote country road first. To a passerby, the hit must be indistinguishable from the actions and movements of a typical passing car.
Accuracy with a slingshot comes only through practice. Shooting into an empty cardboard box from gradually increasing ranges is good practice. Do this in a remote area, rather than leave your backyard littered with the same type of ammunition found at the scene of the hit.
* Round ice (the kind sold in machines) is an excellent pellet for slingshots involved in night actions. They can be shot through windows, breaking the window, but then melt, leaving no evidence. They do not break plate glass, but are fine for thin glass.
* Paint pellets (used in C02 air splat guns for war games) can be fired from slingshots. They are water-based paint in gelatin. This means they are politically-correct-biodegradable-but the paint splat does not last long on your target. Unfortunately, some break with the initial pull of the slingshot.
The following method has been suggested for use against environmentally objectionable construction projects such as condominiums and shopping centers. It involves action to "impair" the electrical wiring system and the plumbing during the construction phase.
After the concrete slab foundation is poured, the connections for the plumbing (especially sewer) are exposed. Usually these connections are covered by duct tape to prevent foreign objects from being accidentally dropped down the pipes. Should someone remove the duct tape and deliberately put foreign material into the pipes, and then carefully replace the duct tape, the results are interesting. The material put in the pipes should be designed to cause a permanent stoppage (e.g., concrete or epoxy). (Check the section on Plugging Pipes in the Developments chapter for methods of plugging pipes.) Imagine the consternation if the blockage is not discovered until the project opens for business, and sewage begins flowing out of toilets onto the occupants' rugs, etc.
Similarly, a monkeywrencher can go after the electrical wiring after it has been installed in the drywalls, but before the Sheetrock (or other form of wallboard) has been hung. One can go from wall to wall wherever wires are found, cutting them in inconspicuous places (for instance, behind studs or cross ties, or under joists) and then replacing the wire ends, perhaps taping or gluing them into place so as to make them appear untouched. When the Sheetrock crews finish, there will be no evidence that anything is wrong until the sad day when the tenants move in and try to get their microwave ovens to work.
Obviously, these tactics can be applied to a wide variety of buildings. Remember, though, to chose your targets well. Make sure that the "victims" of such monkeywrenching well deserve to be singled out as egregious environmental rapists. There is no place for aimless vandalism in the monkeywrenching campaign.
* Salt is very bad for concrete. If quantities of salt could somehow be introduced into cement bags or sand piles for making concrete, foundations and
the like would be weakened.
Monkeywrenchers need to acquire new skills to keep up with the spreading computerization of industry. Virtually all commercial operations plundering the planet depend to some degree on computers. A two or three week shutdown of computers can cost a large company millions of dollars, and even small companies and contractors are becoming addicted to high-tech services for planning, payroll, inventory, and countless other essential functions.
There are three basic types of computer sabotage:
HARDWARE SABOTAGE: This is simple destruction of the computers themselves. It requires physical access, forced or otherwise, to computer facilities.
RECORDS SABOTAGE: Because information storage and retrieval is the primary function of computers, physically destroying computer tapes and discs can severely impede many destructive activities.
SOFTWARE SABOTAGE: This includes "borrowing" embarrassing information from corporate files, diverting company operations away from critical areas, and planting so-called "logic bombs" or "viruses" that use predesignated cues to trigger massive erasures of records and operating programs.
All of these methods are highly effective when carried out in a planned and intelligent manner. Major destruction of hardware calls for new equipment. Labor repair charges usually exceed $60 an hour, with downtime ranging from several hours to a few weeks. Destruction of records forces prolonged and expensive reconstruction from non-computerized data, if it is still available. And a "logic bomb" can destroy costly programs and shut down a system for extended periods while operators search for other "bombs."
Because the potential for extremely damaging sabotage is so great, computer operations are increasingly viewed as industry's most sensitive and vulnerable activity. Computer sabotage must be well planned and thorough. The ideal hit would include combinations of the various types mentioned, so that newly repaired or replaced hardware would be immediately shut down by "logic bombs." The reason for this is simple. Your first hit on any particular target might be your last easy opportunity. Heightened security measures of all types almost invariably follow on the heels of successful monkeywrenching.
First, locate the target. (See the Software section.) Next, scout the target to determine the physical layout; multiple routes of approach and withdrawal; alarm systems and other security; access points like doors, windows, skylights, and air conditioner ducts; and the best hours for a hit.
Select tools adequate to gain access to the (usually) locked facility. Always carry pry bars and heavy screwdrivers in case you encounter unexpected locks that must be forced. Wear clothing normal for the setting, and soft and comfortable shoes with thick rubber soles that do not squeak on tile floors. Because some computer centers are equipped with closed-circuit television (often to monitor the employees), don a hat to conceal your hair, and a bandanna or ski mask to conceal your face. And, of course, wear gloves.
Read the Security chapter, especially Basic Security and Counter-Security, before undertaking an operation of this nature.
Special tools for wrecking computer hardware might include the following:
- Large screwdrivers. Good for prying open access panels. These must have insulated (e.g., plastic) handles.
- Small pry bars. Also useful for accessing the guts of these machines. These must be insulated by coating all but the working tip in "Plasti-Dip" (available at better hardware stores everywhere) or several layers of electrical tape.
- Long-handled axes. To force access to computer rooms, as well as wreak untold havoc once inside, an ax is ideal. The squeamish can substitute long-handled sledge hammers. The disgruntled Freddie can substitute a Pulaski.
~ Water balloons or water bottles. Salt water is far more conductive of electricity than plain water, and salt water is also corrosive. Even after drying out, the salt will remain and continue to corrode circuit board copper and IC pins whenever the humidity is high enough. Make a saturated solution of salt water by adding table salt to hot water while stirring. Add salt until the water won't dissolve any more. Water balloons can be thrown a distance, keeping you safely away from the computer innards. Water bottles are also useful (and easier to carry). They should be of durable plastic, leak proof, and have wide mouths, like a jar, to allow you to toss the water from a short distance.
Depending upon the size of the computer operation, once you arrive on site you will face a variety of computers, terminals, disc drives, and supporting equipment. Visit a good library or bookstore to familiarize yourself with the appearance of various types of units pictured in countless books and magazines.
Start right away on the largest computers. Pry off access panels until you are looking in at rows of circuit boards (again, study pictures first at the library). Once you have gained access to the circuitry, locate the power switch and turn the unit on. Stand back and toss in your water, frying countless circuits. Most computer circuits do not carry dangerous electrical current, but never take chances. Your distance of a couple feet, the plastic bottle or balloons, and your rubber shoe soles will protect you if the water should contact a higher voltage.
Pour water into terminal keyboards after turning on the power. With disc drives, pour the water in at any handy access point.
You obviously can inflict considerable damage with the ax or sledgehammer, but first pry or pound off the outside panels. It doesn't do much good to simply dent the exterior.
The cathode ray tube (CRT) of the computer terminal (like a TV picture tube) is a tempting target, but should either be ignored or saved until last. These tubes are costly but carry high voltages. Don't punch them out with anything but a long-handled tool or other object that gives you a good distance plus the insulation of a wooden handle. Also, the vacuum inside the tube causes them to implode violently when broken, scattering fine shards of glass about the area. The danger to your eyes, if you are standing in front of the terminal when you hit it, is serious. Also, the fine glass fragments can lodge in your clothing (virtually invisible), and stay there until the clothes are laundered. This could mean "wearing" evidence out with you.
If you plan to break the CRTs, take some golf-ball-sized rocks with you, and break them from a long distance just before you leave (be sure there are no fingerprints on the rocks).
Note: Although most parts of computer hardware carry only low voltages, always assume the greatest danger. Even a computer that is turned "off" can have substantial current stored in some components (like the cathode ray tube). Always use well-insulated tools, wear rubber-soled shoes, and avoid unnecessary contact with machine parts or other metal.
• Few things can do more damage to a computer keyboard or any of a computer's internal circuitry than the old classic Coca-Cola. America's favorite soft drink is very acidic, chock full of electrolytes (conducts electricity), and will make keys stick forever. You don't need to turn the computer on (and expose yourself to the risk of getting shocked, or setting off an alarm tied into the electrical system); Coke will do the work for you. Unless it is cleaned up immediately (which it won't be if the job is done at night), the victimized mass of transistors will be a loss.
• If you do pour water into the computer while it is on, or if you smash one with a hammer or an ax, make sure you are not touching anything in contact with the computer or you run the risk of getting shocked. Avoid touching anything that is grounded. If you are leaning against a metal table, your rubber soles won't do any good.
• If you aren't pressed for time, you can open the case to the computer and remove one resistor or another small element. It won't be obvious what' is wrong, only that something is wrong. It is likely that a repairperson will spend a lot of time trying to find the problem before they can fix it, at about $100 an hour.
• Drop a teaspoon of iron filings into any opening of a computer. This will send it careening off course. Fine sand or clay will serve in a pinch especially if washed down with Coke or Pepsi. Drano or nail polish remover also work well.
• Small magnetic shavings in data storage will work miracles on the computer memory discs.
• For the less sophisticated among us, computers do not like to be dropped onto hard surfaces.
• Super glue applied liberally to a diskette works wonders when the disk is put in its normal position inside the disk drive. Do this to every drive slot; many machines have two drives.
• To trash the backups: If you see anything that looks like an undersized videocassette (about 4" x 6"), zap it immediately with a powerful magnet or a cigarette lighter. These are the data cartridges used to back up large amounts of important work. This equipment costs about $1000 and looks like a car stereo 8-track player. It'll probably be sitting on top of or next to the computer itself, and can be trashed just as easily as any other piece of hardware (see above).
Computer data is stored on large reels of magnetic tape, or on the newer discs composed of flexible plastic with a magnetic coating on both sides.
With computer information, duplicate records are routinely made by most businesses, particularly when critical data is involved. These duplicates might be stored with the originals, or in a separate room, fire safe, at another building, or at the home of a company or organization officer. Whenever possible, locate these duplicates before planning a hit to destroy records.
Tape reels and discs are stored on various types of shelves, sometimes in ring-binder type holders, special shielded cases (to protect against accidental erasure by magnetic fields), or in fire safes which range from small strongboxes to multi-drawer cabinets. Although possessing locking mechanisms, these fire safes are essentially just heavily insulated boxes designed to survive fires. They can be forced open with the usual tools.
The best way to damage magnetic tape is to cut into the side of the tightly wound spool with a small sharp knife. You don't have to cut all the way through. Even a shallow cut through many windings of the tape will prevent it from feeding into the computer.
Discs are usually protected by easily-opened hard plastic cases. Simply gouge the face of each disc. The read/write head of the disc drive operates so closely to the disc surface that a speck of dust can cause it to "crash." A single deep scratch renders the disc, and the information on it, worthless.
· Quickly touching a floppy disc with a magnet destroys it.
• Anyone familiar with tape readers might try attaching a small magnet so it is hidden within the tape's path so future tapes used on that machine will have their data destroyed. A piece of adhesive flexible magnet strip (available in many hardware stores) stuck near a tape path or near the disk drive slot could also erase data if the media passed close enough to the magnet.
·To trash 5 1/4" floppies:
-Fold them in half and wheel a desk chair over them. -Douse with any liquid.
-Stick several pinholes all the way through the disk.
-Slash through the magnetic film (the black layer inside the protective jacket) with a razor-guaranteed permanent damage.
- Cover with nail polish remover to dissolve the magnetic film.
• To trash 3 1/2" microdisks (much tougher than their larger ancestors): -First, slide back the metal guard to one side, revealing the black magnetic
film within the tough plastic casing. Then:
-Apply hair spray liberally.
-Apply nail polish remover; Coke and water aren't as effective, especially since Kodak plans to coat their Verbatim brand with Teflon. Go for the gusto here.
-Scratch or slash the film.
* Because computers store information magnetically, passing a powerful magnet over either hard or floppy discs can erase or scramble stored data. One could break in as described above and use a magnet to destroy records and then leave without any evidence of your activity until such material is used later by the operator. It may also be possible to hide a powerful magnet on your person and gain access as a visitor to a company's or agency's computer room during normal business hours. By merely walking close to hard or floppy discs with a magnet, you may inflict serious damage on records. This method may not be realistic, however. Any magnet strong enough to wipe out data at more than an inch would attract small metal objects (paper clips) at a considerable range. Magnetic fields follow an inverse square law. That means the magnetic field is reduced by a factor of four for each doubling of the distance between the magnet and the data tapes. A magnetic field at a data tape four inches away from the magnet is sixteen times weaker than if the magnet is one inch away. Eight inches away means a 64-fold reduction in field strength. Any magnet powerful enough to be effective at that distance would draw suspicion when paper clips and ball-point pens start sticking to you.
This can entail simply snooping for secret information that can embarrass a corporation or government agency, changing recorded data to create a bookkeeping nightmare, or inserting "logic bombs" to destroy data at the time of your choosing.
To undertake these activities, you must first have a working knowledge of computer operation and programming basics. The necessary training is best obtained through community colleges or other state-sponsored schools where the cost is reasonable. If you spend enough time around school computers, you will usually encounter "hackers," those fabled individuals with an all-consuming passion for computers. They can provide you with an education in the fine art of obtaining access (often illegal) to various computer systems. Pretend to be interested only in computers. Never tell them your real intentions. Many of these people have a love of the machine that would define heavy-duty sabotage as a capital offense. Learn from them, but never trust them.
Once you have an education in computers, attempt to infiltrate the target by applying for a job, or setting up a simulated remote terminal with telephone access to the target computer.
If you operate from the inside, be constantly aware of employee monitoring. More and more businesses are installing closed circuit TV and sophisticated programs that keep logs of all users' work records, phone calls, and such. Remember also that when insiders are discovered, it is usually because suspicion leads to interrogation and a confession. If questioned, assume that the interrogator is very sophisticated (especially if he or she doesn't appear to be) and consistently lie. Usually, only those who break down and confess ever get into hot water.
The most you should ever concede under questioning is that you "might have made an error." About 85 percent of computer data loss is caused by operator error. Ideally, you'll do your snooping or tampering in a way that can't be traced back to you.
Entering systems from the outside, or "hacking," is a complex and ever-changing field. For basic reference in this area, read:
Out of the Inner Circle by Bill Landreth, Microsoft Press, Bellevue, WA. This book is widely available in bookstores.
The Hacker's Handbook by Hugo Cornwall, E. Arthur Brown Co., 3404 Pawnee Dr., Alexandria, MN 56308. This book may be available at larger bookstores. (Experienced hackers tell us that this book is virtually useless in the United States, but worthwhile in Europe.)
The recently published The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling describes law enforcement efforts against hackers, while Clifford Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg gives a detailed account of phone tracing used to apprehend a hacker.
Software sabotage calls for locating the remote terminal access for the system (if it has one). Hackers obtain their information from the thousands of "bulletin boards" operated by individuals and computer clubs, from the professional "data retrieval services" set up to provide businesses with reports on competitors (allowing hackers to pinpoint their various operations and narrowing the search for the computer facility), and sometimes by automatically dialing the phone numbers around the known company phone number until a computer answers.
Remote terminal sabotage should usually steer clear of the software that handles a company's finances since this often has the highest level of security. Other computer functions may be just as critical, yet less well protected since they are not as attractive to thieves.
The most damaging form of software sabotage is the virus or "logic bomb." Hidden instructions are inserted into the operating program to initiate erasures at a given signal. Further damage can be inflicted by hiding other "logic bombs" in the electronic data files. The storage capacity of computers, coupled with their high speed of operation, can make the detection and neutralization of logic bombs very time-consuming and costly.
SECURITY TIPS FOR HACKERS
The primary way to investigate computer hacking is tracing phone calls. You can minimize risk in several ways:
- Minimize contact with the computer. Some security systems notify the operator when more than three consecutive attempts are made to insert a password (such as when you are trying different possibilities). Obviously, the more times you enter the system, the more chances there are for calls to be traced.
- Avoid leaving obvious long-distance phone records. Use gateway nodes to access a system through a local phone number. Then leapfrog through several networks and switches before actually linking with the target computer. Initial trace-backs will end at the gateway node where the call goes local. At this point, they will have to stand by and wait for your next intrusion.
~l Make your contact short.
~l Use briefcase portable computers and pay phones to make tracing more difficult. Drive-up pay phones are even safer. Keep it short and leave the area immediately.
- Use someone else's phone system. Look on the outside of a house or office building where the phone lines come in from a pole. Find the small plastic box or soft rubber cover on the terminal block. Attach a telephone with alligator clips to the terminals holding the red and green wires. You then become one more phone on that system. In office and apartment buildings, the terminal block is often found in the basement or a closet, protected by a cabinet. Books on phone wiring for do-it-yourselfers show pictures of these key access points.
Be security conscious. Make sure no one else is "in" where you are using the phone line. Keep a lookout.
* A tremendous source of information about computers and telephone crime, mostly from the side of the hacker or phreaker is: 2600 Magazine, POB 752, Middle Island, NY 11953 (516)751-2600. Subscriptions are $18 per year.
A source for all kinds of quasi-legal electronic gizmos and gadgets (FM transmitters, satellite decoder chips, cable boxes, etc.) is Nuts & Volts Magazine, POB 1111, Placentia, CA 92670. Sample issue upon request, $12 per year.
Another source for technology information is Consumertronics, 2011 Crescent Dr, PO Drawer 537, Alamogordo, NM 88310. A catalog is $2. They have information on hacking, phreaking, fireworks, ATMs, etc.
Beware of using your own address or leaving a paper trail.
Stink bombs have numerous applications for the ecodefender. These can range from the introduction of a foul odor into a corporate board meeting during a daring daylight raid, to the introduction of more insidious and lingering substances into offices via small holes in windows during nocturnal operations.
Among the chemicals with potential for stink bombs are the following, which can be obtained from school laboratories and over-the-counter chemical sup
- Carbon disulfide
- Hydrogen sulfide (smells like rotten eggs) - Skatole (feces smell)
- Ethyl amine (fishy smell)
- Proprionic acid (sweat-like smell)
Butyric acid will make a remarkably effective stink bomb. This is a weak acid (not dangerous) with an incredibly powerful stench. It smells like vomit and thus is particularly appropriate for expressing opinions about land rapers. Only a very small amount is needed-2 drops will befoul a room. An ounce will perfume a building. The odor is resistant to cleaning and lasts for weeks.
Because of its power, delivery can be a bit of a problem. A medicine dropper can be used, but I use a hypodermic needle and syringe. This allows small amounts to be delivered into areas difficult to enter (through the rubber seal around a truck window, under an office door, etc.). This also keeps the liquid off your hands-important, not only because it is incriminating but because it will dramatically hurt your social life. The best solution for spills on clothes is disposal.
The main problem with butyric acid is acquisition. It is used in some tanning processes, manufacture of lacquers, and organic syntheses. It can be purchased through industrial chemical suppliers or scientific supply houses. It is not a controlled substance-no police records are kept. It commonly is stocked by college chemistry stockrooms and some high school chemistry classes. Collaboration with an instructor or graduate student at your local college chemistry department might enable you to get some. You don't need much-the stuff is so powerful that a quart is a long-lasting supply for even the most ardent enthusiast.
Butyl mercaptan makes an effective stink bomb. This chemical is used to make natural gas odorous so that a leak can be discovered, and in higher concentrations has the odor of skunk. It comes from chemical supply houses sealed in glass. If opened, it needs to be resealed with a gas flame. A small container, broken in the ventilating system of a building, will evacuate the place. But it will not stay long, and will soon be flushed out without harming anyone. Hatpin, a self-defense catalog for women (Hatpin, PO Box 6144, Santa Fe, NM 87502) sells "Repulse," a small glass vial of butyl mercaptan and a second vial of "neutralizer."
Pet and veterinary supply houses (check the yellow pages or the ads in national dog magazines) sell "animal trail scents" and "breaking scents." These often foul-smelling liquids are used to train hunting dogs. Sporting goods stores often sell skunk sprays in small aerosol cans, used by hunters to mask their scent in the field.
Also, don't neglect to visit the stores found in most large cities that specialize in novelties, jokes, magic tricks, and the like (look in the yellow pages under "novelties" or "costumes"). Here look for "gags" like "Fart Spray," a wonderfully obnoxious 4-oz. aerosol. Read the labels closely, though. Some of these aerosol sprays are just room fresheners with funny labels. The truly foul-smelling ones usually say so on the label. Some of these gems are available through mail-order houses like Funny Side Up, 425 Stump Rd., North Wales, PA 19454. As in any inquiry or order to a mail-order house, use all security precautions. It is not inconceivable that some mail-order addresses given in Ecodefense are fronts for law enforcement agencies hoping to ensnare monkeywrenchers.
• Most laboratory grade butyric acid can be diluted with tap water by five or ten to one, stretching its use without diluting it overmuch.
• Feed and tack stores and home improvement centers sell a useful fly trap. The bait is a small bottle of putrid concentrate (sexual attractant and rotting meat) that sells for less than $3 at discount stores and up to $6 at feed stores. This stuff stinks like hell and draws flies like crazy.
• Jewelers use a compound called liver of sulfur to make silver turn black. It stinks like the worst fart ever expelled and is activated by dropping a small quantity into a glass of water. It is available at jewelry/metal working craft supply houses. Use it in large doses to clear the offices of your favorite bureaucrats.
• Besides butyric acid, caproic, capryllic, and caproanic acid all smell like goat. One standout in the field is n-butyraldehyde, a sublime melange of vomit, goat, sweat socks, babyshit, and bilge water. As long as we're ruining backhoes and earth movers, why not try n-butyraldehyde there? In the engine block of a Caterpillar (or an executive limo or Lear jet) it does not go away. A drop or two of this stuff will last for six months or more. Almost no one would be willing to drive a machine which smelled like n-b, and the resale value is naught. Isovaleric acid is even more revolting than n-b.
This device is an adaptation of an aerosol spray can, making it usable as a "grenade," which can be thrown and will discharge its contents while the monkeywrencher escapes the premises. It can be used effectively with such commercially-available aerosols as hunters' masking skunk sprays and novelty "fart" sprays. The mechanism is basic and highly adaptable. (The design illustrated is approximate, since size and shape of cans will vary.)
As a safety precaution, wipe all parts free of fingerprints BEFORE beginning assembly. Wear rubber gloves while assembling. When putting the mechanism together, wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from accidental spraying.
To change an aerosol spray can into a grenade, first remove the spray nozzle head (a) and with the aid of a C-clamp, glue it to a short (3/4 inch to 1 inch) length of 1 /2 in. diameter wooden dowel (b) and a large, wide rubber band (c). The common cyanoacrylate "super glues" are ideal.
After a day's drying time, stretch the rubber band around the aerosol can and glue securely to both sides of the can (d). If necessary, the rubber band can be cut and the C-clamp used to hold it in place for gluing. The idea is to have a lot of tension on the rubber band when the spray nozzle head (a) is reinstalled.
After another day for the glue to set, install the spray nozzle along with the modified cap as pictured. The soft plastic cap has been modified with three simple cuts (e), one window to allow the spray out, and two smaller notches to accommodate the rubber band. The cap is not glued in place until the mechanism is tested and found to work. Before re-assembling, install a safety "pin," such as the nail (f), through a hole drilled in the wooden dowel. The pin holds the nozzle head up just enough to prevent it from spraying. This is a fine adjustment and must be made carefully. The spray nozzle must fit snugly in its hole in the can without accidentally going off.
The rubber band does not provide enough pressure (usually) to push the spray head down. Its purpose is to hold the spray head down after you push on the end of the dowel. This allows you to drop the "grenade" and leave, knowing the entire can will discharge. Test the mechanism out-of-doors for a second or two to insure its proper functioning before cementing the cap to the can. While assembling, NEVER allow the spray nozzle to point directly at you or your clothing.
Once you have a working spray you can do one of two things with it-glue the can to a flat wooden base, causing the can to stand upright while discharging, or glue on a piece of stiff cardboard as shown in (g). Note how the cardboard protrusion prevents 'the can from rolling to a position that discharges the spray into the ground or floor.
As a final step, carefully glue some cheap, coarse burlap to the smooth exterior surfaces of the can and cap. This burlap will not take fingerprints and allows you to handle the "grenade" without leaving any fingerprints on it.
Deliver the stink grenade to the target site in the pocket of a cheap cloth coat or jacket bought at Goodwill or another second-hand store. Casually drape the coat over your arm. Throw the garment away if should it accidentally become contaminated with the odor. A cheap woman's handbag or shopping bag will do, but only if made of cloth (to keep from leaving fingerprints-avoid leather, naugahyde, or plastic).
Drop the stink grenade to the floor just inside the door to an office or meeting room, in the fur section of a department store, or wherever appropriate. Walk away casually and leave the building immediately.
-the Sorcerer's Apprentice
Smoke In Their Eyes!
Many times the object of an act of ecotage is to disrupt or delay an activity. A very useful tool in the monkeywrencher's bag of tricks is the smoke bomb or smoke grenade. A wide variety of these are available to the public with no legal restrictions on their purchase. These devices are safe to use and offer the imaginative monkeywrencher many options for upsetting the activities of the greedheads who damage Earth for fun and profit.
Although it's possible to make your own smoke bombs at home, this is not recommended for two reasons: 1) if you do it wrong the things won't work, and 2) if you really do it wrong you blow yourself up. A wide variety of smoke bombs and grenades can be bought by mail with no record or legal hassles. The commercially-produced devices come in two basic types. The first type is designed to be ignited by lighting the fuse. The second type is designed to function like a hand grenade. The user pulls a pin and the device self-ignites several seconds later. These devices generate very large amounts of smoke (anywhere from 3,000 to 115,000 cubic feet), and will make smoke for up to ten minutes. These smoke bombs and grenades even come in a variety of smoke colors. White, gray, red, green, yellow, and violet are available. To give you an idea of the quality of smoke produced, burning crude oil has a TOP (Total Obscuring Power) rating of 200; some of these devices have a TOP of 2100.
How To Use Them
The most effective use of these devices is in booby traps and ambushes. Both of these uses allow the monkeywrencher to be safely away when the crap hits the fan. Examples: R.J. Hardhead calmly seats himself in the driver's seat of his dozer ready for another day of tree trashing. He is unaware of a fine piece of fishing line running from his dozer blade to the smoke grenade taped securely under the dozer. As R.J. starts up and lifts the blade, the grenade pin is pulled loose and the dozer and a very confused driver are swallowed in a large cloud of green smoke. After the smoke clears, he and his buddies waste even more time figuring out what happened.
A Motorhead, ace cross-country motorbike racer, surges into the lead at the Annual Dirt Maniac Race. He doesn't notice the thin nylon line running from a firmly-planted stake to the pin on a smoke grenade taped to another stake a few yards away. As he and dozens of others yank the pins from these scattered grenades, clouds of multicolored smoke fill the air, forcing those behind them to stop short or risk kissing an unseen cactus or rock.
The smoke bombs with fuses can be used as in the first example but the fuse needs to be taped to a part of the machine which gets hot enough to ignite the fuse (exhaust pipe or manifold).
These devices aren't cheap but when used well they're worth a lot. Besides after you've gotten R.J. and his buddies paranoid, think what a beer can painted the color of your smoke bombs (and hooked-up to make them think it's real) will do. By the time they get the bomb squad out there to collect the evidence, they'll have wasted an hour or more. Then when they start up something else; POOF! goes the real one. Be creative. Rig the porta-john door. Use them for early warning devices on protests to slow the bad guys down and to let the protesters know where they are.
Keeping a couple of smoke grenades on hand to toss out the window while fleeing the scene of an act of ecotage is a good idea too.
The use of smoke bombs and grenades is a very easy and effective method of ecotage that poses little risk of injury to either man or machine. Other than causing panic and high blood pressure, the smoke does not hurt people. Care should be taken with these devices, though. There is no point in saving a forest from the bulldozer by accidentally burning it down. A number of available military handbooks detail the uses of these devices. Check your local military surplus shop or a paramilitary mail order store for copies.
Bill More Publications, PO Box 1600, Cottonwood, AZ 86326 Paladin Press, PO Box 1307, Boulder, CO 80306
Smoke Device Sources:
Superior Signal Co., Inc., PO Box 96, Spotswood, NJ 08884
Yankee Manufacturing Co., 59 Chase St., Beverly, MA 01915
Aztec National Inc., Suite 341, Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross, GA 30093 Phoenix Systems, Inc., PO Box 3339, Evergreen, CO 80439
* As always, be extremely careful when mail ordering anything used for monkeywrenching. Leave no paper trail.
* All fur shops are equipped with smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. A smoke bomb set off in a fur shop will set off the sprinklers and cause expensive damage.
One extremely effective means of hassling all sorts of villains is jamming the locks to their places of business or to their machines of destruction. Calculate the number of hours between your hit and the time when employees will first attempt to gain access to the building or equipment. Select almost any hard-drying glue or adhesive that will set-up within this time. The "liquid metals" are very good for this. Before the operation, cut or drill a hole in the screw cap of the glue tube so that the contents will come out in a stream thin enough to enter the lock's keyway. Cover this hole with a piece of tape until you are ready to use the glue.
Conduct the usual scouting of the target, establish a plan and prepare all your equipment in the standard manner to assure that no fingerprints, fibers, or other evidence are inadvertently left at the scene. The drop and pickup method of delivery is usually the safest. (See the chapter on Security.)
Clothing worn should blend in with the locality and season of year. Gloves can be rather conspicuous in warm weather, so get some of the thin, tight-fitting surgical-type gloves used in hospitals and some food service establishments. At night they pass for flesh even at short distances (for white folks). If you are working in daylight, you may want to coat your fingertips with clear fingernail polish to avoid leaving fingerprints. If so, carry fingernail polish remover.
When actually jamming the lock, stand close enough to avoid ready observation by passersby. Force as much glue into the lock through the keyhole as you can, but don't smear it on the padlock or door knob. Carry a paper towel to clean up any excess so there is no evidence to alert a passing security guard or policeman before the glue has set. (Of course, remove the used paper towel from the scene and dispose of it safely.)
Tapered hardwood shims can also be jammed into the keyway and broken off. A small screwdriver can be used to force the wood farther into the lock. Properly executed this can accomplish the same basic mission as the adhesive/glue technique-necessitating the summoning of a locksmith to gain access. It does not cause permanent damage to the lock mechanism, however, as does the glue.
Lastly, make sure that all entrances are similarly jammed. This may seem obvious, but out-of-the-way entrances are often neglected.
• Instead of worrying about hardwood shims for jamming locks, try flat toothpicks: Stick one about halfway into a lock, break it off, and jam it in with a piece of wire or another toothpick. Repeat several times until you can't fit any more in. This is as effective as hardwood shims; since the typical person will not be able to remove the toothpicks, a locksmith or pair of bolt cutters must be summoned.
• A very quick, efficient, and unobtrusive lock jammer can be made from a paper clip. Simply bend one prong of the paper clip out at a 90 degree angle with a little hook in the end. Insert the hooked end in the keyway channel and twist so the hooked end breaks off and remains in the keyway channel thus preventing a key from being inserted.
• Super glue is the best way to jam a lock, especially a cylinder lock. Toothpicks placed in the slot are usually pushed aside or can be retrieved with a small pick. After super glue is put in a lock, you cannot even hammer the key into the slot. It is fast and easy. Super glue must have some moisture in order for it to set. In areas of very low humidity, you need to merely blow into the slot first to make it damp enough in the lock for the glue to set. After super-gluing, the lock cannot be repaired.
• Lock jamming is effective for closing roads with locked gates or seasonally bolted barriers. Often, there are so many locks and keys for various gates (especially on checkerboarded public and private lands) that a logistical nightmare has been created. Government employees after driving two to three hours on a washboard dirt road only to find that they can't get a gate open are inclined to take the rest of the day off. One observer noticed them coming back three days in a row trying out different keys. Many locks are routinely left open out of convenience and laziness. Often this is concealed from prying eyes by the welded steel bell that protects the locks from ORVers, hunters, and other riff-raff. You can snap the lock shut and then jam it, or you can replace it with a different but similar lock. Many road closure barriers are just highway guardrails with heavy bolts and no locks. Whacking the bolt with length of silent, hollow pipe makes the nut impossible to remove without a cutting torch.
Disrupting Illegal Activities
It is quite possible that you will chance upon others committing illegal acts, environmentally harmful acts, that is. You should do everything you can (without jeopardizing your own security) to see that these offenders are brought to justice.
A common illegal activity you may observe in rural areas is the dumping of toxic wastes. Be especially alert for this if you live or are operating in an area with chemical plants and the like. Signs of illegal dumping include tank trucks or closed trucks (concealing large drums) leaving industrial plants after dark, or driving along deserted back roads (especially if creeks or rivers run nearby). In some parts of the country secluded sites in the desert are favored by dumpers.
If you see illegal dumping, carefully monitor the activity, using proper surveillance techniques. Information and evidence obtained should be passed anonymously to both state police and state environmental control officials. However, be careful. In many areas, the illegal disposal of industrial wastes has become a lucrative business for organized crime. These people will not hesitate to use violence to protect their interests. Do not discount the possibility that local police might be "on the take"-receiving bribes to look the other way. Always practice security measures to protect your own identity.
In the Southwest, monkeywrenchers might come across cactus poachers. Watch for two or three individuals, usually in a jeep or pickup truck, driving slowly along back roads, jeep trails, and even newly bulldozed subdivision roads. Look for signs of fresh digging in the area. If you witness the poachers digging cactus, or come across parked vehicles containing untagged cactus (cactus obtained legally under permit will be tagged), you might disable the vehicles (three or more flat tires should do it), then call the sheriff's office with an anonymous tip.
In certain National Forest areas, illegal timber poaching and commercial firewood cutting are major problems. Use similar tactics as with cactus poachers. Gather evidence surreptitiously, disable vehicles if you can do it safely, and make an anonymous tip to the authorities.
Here's one that makes for a great hobby and might even be legal!
Scattered along the back roads of America, countless thousands of privately dumped trash piles blight the land. Civic-minded and neighborly citizens should consider returning these "lost" items to their rightful owners. Since "wildcat" dumping is illegal in most areas, the previous owner must have "accidentally" dumped his possessions there.
Dumping of organic matter is often legal, however, and in most cases, is not bad for the land. Piles of grass clippings, tree trimmings, etc. should simply be scattered about to hasten their return to the Earth. Brush piles left intact can provide good shelter for wildlife, so use your best judgment.
What one sees most often on the back-roads, however, is trash: paper, glass, cans, plastic.... Even a moderately enterprising sleuth (moderation in all things) can find the identity of the original owner by searching through this type of refuse. Discarded envelopes, letters, magazine address labels, and assorted junk mail usually betray the dumper. In the interests of fair play, you should find several such clues before firmly deciding on your target.
To return the material, collect empty boxes from behind your local supermarket and fill them (not quite to the brim) with the offending matter. Although returning illegally dumped garbage is probably not illegal, you should take all the usual precautions. The evidence you leave on this type of endeavor may lead investigators to other, more illegal, activities. Besides, you may inadvertently return some garbage to the chief of police or the county sheriff. Pick up your grocery store boxes after dark (in the early, not suspiciously late, evening) and always wear gloves when handling them and the garbage. This type of activity is good teamwork training for more serious capers later.
Scout your target thoroughly. Map the neighborhood, and make sure that your wheelperson knows every way in and out. Every way. You'll understand why soon.
Plan your mission for the evening hours. In the wee hours of the morning there's usually so little traffic that you would stand out and draw the attention of patrolling gendarmes. Dress your team accordingly: dark clothes, gloves, and possibly hats (to hide your hair and to keep it out of your face). If you have a choice of vehicles, a pickup truck is best. The ideal team consists of one driver and two dumpers. More than this will get in each other's way and will not fit comfortably (and perhaps legally) in the cab of the truck.
Just before making your run at the target, have one team member use a canteen of water and a little dirt to make mud to smear on your license plate. Daub a little on the bumper so it's not so obvious that it "accidentally just got on my license plate, officer!" Save some water to wash it off later. If you do this a lot, you may want to periodically spray the plate with a couple of light coats of a clear spray varnish. This will protect the paint from the abrasion of the dirt and mud, which otherwise will eventually start rubbing off the paint.
Cruise by the target at least once to make sure the coast is clear. You can drop off a lookout in nearby brush to quietly observe for about ten minutes and make sure no witnesses are about. Make your final approach run at normal speed and brake normally. (Once our driver was so wired-up with nervousness that she careened into a U-shaped gravel driveway in front of the target house, slammed on the brakes, and put us all-two of us riding unprotected in the back-into a four-wheel skid sideways that brought us to a grinding halt only inches from some steel posts set in concrete.) If possible, dump the trash while remaining inside the bed of the pickup. If necessary, one person can hop out and dump the boxes that the other hands to him or her. Usually we leave the boxes at the scene, since they're clean of fingerprints, anyway. (We rarely get them from the same dumpster twice since that might facilitate attempts to trace us.) Besides, the poor slob who gets his trash back will need something to put it in!
After returning the trash, promptly leave the area. We were once pursued by the irate trash recipient and only our knowledge of the neighborhood enabled us to elude him without heading down any dead end streets (which are common in suburban neighborhoods).
As soon as it's safe, get everybody back up in the cab and wash that filthy old mud off your license plate, for chrissakes!
* Keep in mind that scattering organic debris like plant trimmings in a natural area could lead to the sprouting of exotic plants. Avoid this!
There are many places where mountain bikes (and especially some of the dildoheads who ride them) do not belong, but mountain bikes can be useful to those who use extralegal means of defending our Homeland from the Mad Machine. The bikes are light, quiet, portable, and will go almost anywhere. They do of course entail costs and hard physical labor. The following is a guide to help you use the mountain bike effectively in your ecodefense operations.
For those with limited off-road cycling experience, I suggest reading some of the books on how to buy, equip, and ride a mountain bike. Pay special attention to the sections on carrying gear. For non-camping outings, you will still need a sturdy rear rack, tool kit, tire pump, a set of rear panniers, and either thorn-proof tubes or a tube protector like "Mr. Tuffy." Be sure you have "full knobby" tires. Many mountain bikes have tires with a raised middle ridge. These tires roll easier on pavement, but have limited traction on dirt. Choose tires appropriate for your area.
Advantages of Mountain Bikes
Unlike cars or motorcycles, mountain bikes are easily carried by people or cars. A group of people and bikes can be brought to within 10 miles or so of a work site in a van or truck, dropped off, and picked up someplace miles away. A bicycle can also be easily carried across washed-out sections of roads, or lifted over fences and gates.
Bicycles can be easily hidden in the field, which is important when one is in a "closed area," or does not feel like making explanations to "authority figures." The bikes can be stashed in the bushes (be sure you remember where!) for a quick getaway after an action. A person on a mountain bike can quickly scout out access and exit routes (most Freddie maps don't show all of the logging roads, jeep trails, and connections). Most people in good shape can ride 20 to 50 miles in a day depending on terrain. Just about any jeep road or logging road can be ridden, along with many below-timberline hiking trails (see Editor's
note) without too much pushing and carrying. Stay off Wilderness Area trails and any steep, erodible trails, please! (Unless in a real emergency.) Disadvantages of Mountain Bikes
Mountain bikes can make ecodefense easier, quicker, and safer, but they won't work in all situations and a good mountain bike is expensive, from $300 to $1,200 for the 15-speed low-geared light bikes. Not all of us are renegade yuppies with that kind of money. Some bikes in the $250 to $450 range, which aren't as chic, work adequately on the trail. Also check for used bikes.
Mountain biking, especially with a load of gear, can be very hard work. Unlike pavement riders, mountain bikers must continually watch the road (or trail) ahead for loose rocks, ruts, holes, etc. A crash while on the job would be no fun! This makes it hard to see or hear someone watching you from off the road.
Unless you're a shaved ape, you probably won't be able to carry many tools. Most mountain bikes weigh about 30 lbs., and you probably won't want to carry more than 30-40 lbs. of water and gear.
Consider the type of terrain in your area. If roads and trails follow sandy washes, or if they are frequently covered with deep, slick clay mud, you're better off walking or riding a horse. Loose rocks can be a lot of extra work.
A very important consideration is not implicating yourself or your bike in any "wrongdoing." Paint everything on your bike flat black or camouflage. Wrap brake handles and other non-paintable areas in cloth or duct tape. Shiny paint and chrome can reflect headlights and sunlight. Remove all reflectors (replace them for legitimate night riding).
Make as little noise as possible. Curse quietly if you do an "endo," or get stuck hub-deep in water or mud. Prevent the chain from slapping against the frame. Be sure all tools are wrapped and secured so they don't clink against one another as you ride the bumps. Unfortunately, mountain bikes can leave very distinct tracks. You do not want to be stopped with a muddy bike whose mud and tires match tracks left near a "boat anchor." A solution to this would be a stretch rubber covering with a different tread pattern which could be put on over tires and hidden after each action. Unfortunately, such a thing is not available. Changing tires after an action would be awkward and difficult to do in the field, and dragging brush behind you wouldn't work on clay soil. Other ideas on this problem are needed.
Finally, a word about night work. This should only be done on moonlit nights or on a road or trail you've ridden at night before. A generator-type headlight gives enough light by which to see, but the generators make pedaling more difficult and are noisy on most mountain bike tires. A headlamp may be better, but any such artificial light is conspicuous.
-the Mad Engineer
While we do not approve of the use of wheeled vehicles of any sort on mountain trails, and certainly not in Wilderness Areas, we do think that mountain bikes have great potential for the ecodefender, especially as a rapid and silent means of getting around on all those thousands of miles of Forest Service logging roads. One should take certain security precautions, however.
Tire prints would constitute serious evidence if an eco-raider were ever apprehended, even long after the fact, as long as that person still possessed those tires. Since getting rid of bike tires after each "hit" would be an expense beyond the means of all but the richest eco-warrior, we suggest that mountain bikes be used only to ride to the general vicinity of the work site. The bikes then could be hidden and the ecoteurs would go the rest of the way on foot. It's cheaper to replace shoes than tires. It might be wise to learn what are the most popular tires in an area and use only those. Tracks may be traceable to individual tires, however, and not just types.
* If you have several minutes to spare after a job, the best thing to do is change your tires. Either have extra tires stashed or carry them on your bike or person. Foldable tires with a kevlar bead are best, but cost $25-30 each. It's a good idea to invest in these since they are compact and light, and can be hidden between hits. If you don't want this expense, look in dumpsters behind bike shops for free regular tires. Check regularly for used but still usable tires, and, after a job or two, ditch them in another dumpster far away. Don't tell anyone about your tire source or it will dwindle.
Quick release hubs are best because they enable you to remove a wheel quickly and without a crescent wrench. Changing your whole wheel set is quicker than changing tires. Upon reaching your hidden replacement tire after a job, you need only flip your bike over, change wheels, and take off. PRACTICE! Make sure both wheel sets have rims of similar widths, or you'll have to adjust your brakes.
• Keep gear and braking systems properly adjusted. Escape time can be lost if shifting and braking are not smooth and quick.
· Before a job, rub down your bike with mud to cut down on light reflection.
• Wear a dark-colored bike helmet or other protective headgear. Limited visibility and rough ground invites falls. Since much bicycle clothing and equipment has reflective patches to make a rider visible, check your gear and cover any reflective patches with non-reflective tape or other material.
• Prevent chain slapping with rubber strips designed for this purpose. Handle bar tape wrapped around the chain stays also works.
• I do some monkeywrenching from the back of my horse. I carry a few items of clothing (wrapped in plastic) under the saddle for a quick change, a light "tool kit" under the fenders (rustlers' traditional hiding spot for running irons), and some water soluble white paint for camouflage-my horse has been an Appaloosa, a paint, and had one to four white stockings.