As bizarre as this may sound, in most places, there is some protection (albeit limited) for Urbexers if they get injured while in the act.
Hence, site owners can typically be liable to trespassers “if they willfully injured a person” or, and this is important, “knew or should have known about the presence of frequent trespassers and kept their site in unsafe condition“.
In order to limit their civil responsibility then, abandoned building proprietors will sometimes use the service of private security guards to keep Urbexers (a.k.a potential liability) at bay.
Now let’s be clear about this; I am talking about security guards here, not cops. Beware of the difference.
A police officer is a sworn law enforcement officer employed by a municipal or state agency. He or she, has powers of arrest.
A security guard on the other hand, is a private company employee, with no law enforcement powers. There are sometimes “privately employed” security guards, with some official authority though; those DO have limited federal arrest authority.
In the U.S, a big difference between police officers and security guards, is that if a police officer is shot and killed in the line of duty, it’s a capital offense. If a security officer like him were to die the same way, it could very well be manslaughter. This is just general trivia; do NOT shoot either of them !!
Anyhow, police officers, being employed by the state, are only deployed in protection of important or strategic assets. Not buildings in ruin. The chance of you meeting a private security guard is thus much higher, then meeting a police officer. Either way, here are a few pointers on how NOT getting caught.
- Do not park immediately next to your target destinations, as sometimes the neighbors will alert security if they see suspect vehicles nearby an abandoned place.
- Wear dark colors (see here).
- If you must hide, do so at height. Policemen and security guards wear hats with a peak that comes down low over their eyes. Apparently this is for psychological reasons. Eyebrows are very expressive and you appear a lot more authoritative if you keep them covered up. The advantage of this is that it makes a lot harder for guards to see anything more than six foot off the ground. Which is why painting rooftops and bridges is so easy.
- Keep your flash lights off until you are inside your target destination. Many surveillance companies are in charge of the building’s outside perimeter and do not usually tour inside.
- Be logical in your visit…for example start with the top, working your way to the ground. You want to visit everything, but not come and go randomly in the same places, if you can avoid it.
- If the site is under surveillance, communicate with your buddies through your phones set on silent mode.
All this being said, if you’re dumb enough (like me) to trespass often, the question is no longer “if you get caught“, it soon becomes “when you get caught“…
In this undesirable scenario, you’ll have to think quick. In other words, I strongly recommand you hope for the best but prepare for the worse.
Here are a few pointers…
- Don’t tell the guard your name.
You aren’t required to show a security guard your ID… or tell them any personal information for that matter. Understand that it might be frustrating if they ask and you don’t comply. Be ready to talk them down, but don’t take any grief.
By the same token, they have absolutely no right to search you.
Please note, however, that in certain circumstances like concert venues, your attendance is consent to undergo random security searches, or random bag searches. That right shouldn’t ever extend to a security guard if you’re out Urbexing.
The same obviously goes for any form of movement restriction or arrest. Some will argue that a guard could perform what is known as a citizen’s arrest. The law, however, is certainly not a vigilante’s charter: the starting point is that detention of another person is, on its own, unlawful. Therefore, feel free to leave at anytime (even if copiously yelled at).
If a security guard uses force against you, this could constitute an unlawful assault. You can report the matter to the Police.
- Don’t admit to anything.
Your words could be used against you, if a guard happens to hear you say something incriminating.
It will be their words against yours, but who needs the aggravation.
If really pushed, just say you thought you heard a puppy crying, and crossed the fence to rescue it. Or that you didn’t see any indication the site was private or prohibited. Just DO NOT admit to trespassing.
Think worst case on this one.
- Don’t sneak up on a guard.
Let’s face it. A Security guard’s job is likely really stressful and nerve-wracking.
Inversly, the routine could also dull the senses to dangerous levels. So please; don’t give someone a heart attack. Or a reason to harm you, in a poorly executed reflex.
If you plan to make yourself known, do it before they pass within inches of your dark corner hideaway. (This is just a personal plea, I wouldn’t want this to happen to me).
And remember brothers and sisters; we live in a brave new world. It is no wonder then that the fastest growing occupation in the private sector is security guards.
Conversly, my fellow trespassers, the fastest growing occupation in the public sector, is prison guards.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.