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Mrs. Covert's Spying Lesson #4 : Following A Suspect

Following people isn’t easy. You never know when they’ll go into an elevator, cross a street, hop on a bus or subway. Plus people are suspicious. If they keep seeing the same stranger as they walk along, they’ll think they are being followed.

When you follow someone, it’s a good idea to carry a notepad and pen so you can look over the route afterwards. When you see the person you are following buy something, chat with someone, or enter a building, you can write it down. If you follow the same person on several different days you can notice if they do the same things every day.

In order to practice following someone, you can ask a friend (perhaps one who also wants to be a spy) to let you follow them. Your friend will try to do unpredictable things. You can do the same when your friend wants to practice following.

When you follow a suspect you have a chance to pick up clues. If they handle something and put it down, you might be able to pick up a fingerprint. You can dust the object (corn starch or cocoa powder work well) and then pick up prints with scotch tape. The store may ask you to buy the object. Always be ready with money (spies in movies have lots of money) so you won’t attract attention.

If the person you follow wears lipstick, the lipstick might leave a lip print on a paper cup. If your suspect throws the cup away, you can pick it up. Lip prints are as unique as fingerprints.

If your suspect eats an apple and throws away the core, or leaves a piece of cheese after biting it, you can get tooth impressions. Those are also good to identify people. You can make a plaster mold of the tooth impressions before the food goes bad.

Hair tends to fall out, especially if it brushes against something. If the person you are following goes into a store and tries on a shirt, you might find a hair on the shirt afterwards. Everybody’s hair is different, and hair often has bits of skin attached which can be analyzed for DNA.

Sometimes you can follow somebody after they have already left the scene, by looking for evidence.

Hair is also useful for tracking a missing hamster. You can follow its trail of hairs on the floor of our home or classroom.

Fabric also leaves a trail. Bits of fabric thread are always breaking off. If your brother has an orange shirt, and you don’t, you can search your room for orange fibers. If you find them, you have proof that he has been in your room.

Sneakily,

Mrs. Covert

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Lesson Five: Secret Writing