Former CIA Officer Jason Hanson Reveals...

Spy Secrets That Can

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Get Out Alive

Mailbag Monday

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I’ll be traveling with a small team to Ghana for work in August… What general safety precautions would you recommend while traveling in Africa?

-From Mike C.

Answer: Before traveling overseas, visit the U.S. State Department website and research the country you will visit.

The site alerts you (by country) to any security threats and provides phone numbers of the U.S. embassies and consulates. This is information you want to keep with you.

Prior to leaving on your trip scan all travel documents onto a secure flash drive such as the Iron Key Flash Drive. This should include your driver’s license, passport, travel insurance, and emergency phone numbers.

I would get a secure wallet such as the Shacke Pocket Vault. Carry your money and credit cards in this wallet.

Do not carry a travel wallet around your neck or purse as criminals can easily cut or yank them off. Instead, carry a wallet inside your pants or secured to your leg.

Make sure you have written phone numbers and written directions to the embassy closest to you, do not rely on electronic copies stored on your phone.

Keep your head up at all times and look for people trying to distract you so they can pick pocket and rob you.


My wife and I are planning to stay at a vacation rental for the first time. We’re concerned about hidden cameras inside the premises that can spy on us… What’s the best way to find these devices, if they exist?

-From Ron G.

Answer: There are a lot of devices advertised online that claim to find hidden cameras. But, most of these are worthless.

One of the first things you should do is turn off all the lights. Then start looking around for tiny lights since most cameras have a light on them.

Next, look for things that are out of place. For instance, is there a phone charger or a stuffed animal that seems out of place. Look for holes in the walls and inspect flowers.

Also, most cameras need power to work for an extended time. So, check for things that are plugged in and unplug them.

Pay extra close attention to areas such as the bedrooms and bathrooms.


My family and I recently went on a trip to a popular tourist destination. When we went shopping a lot of stores wouldn’t accept cash. Do you think more places will stop accepting cash? Will this become common?

-From Nick E.

Answer: I don’t think this practice will become popular anytime soon because there’s a reason they say cash is king. Cash is still the second-most-used form of payment in America today after debit cards.

Approximately 6.5% of U.S. households don’t use a bank. Another 18% of households are underbanked, which means they have at least one account at an insured institution.

A cashless society would surrender privacy. Cash allows you to be anonymous. Besides, cash will always be there when technology fails.


Thanks to your advice my wife and I have decided to purchase our first pistols. I know you’ve mentioned that you like Sig Sauer pistols. Which models are your favorite for concealed carry?

-From John P. 

Answer: My personal choices would be the P238 and P365. These are some of the smallest and lightest Sig Sauer pistols.

The P238 is chambered in .380 ACP and is modeled after the design of a 1911. The P365 gun is a 9mm gun and this is what I carry often.

With that being said, I definitely recommend going to your local gun store/shooting range and renting these guns before buying them to make sure they are a good fit.


I’m about to take a summer vacation and I can’t take my self-defense pistol with me. I plan on taking a knife for protection. Can I fly with a knife in my checked baggage?

-From Pete M.

Answer: Yes, I have knives in my checked baggage all the time.

Remember that it may be legal to put the knife in your checked luggage, and it may be legal to carry the knife in your home state. But, as soon as you collect your luggage at the destination you could be carrying an illegal knife depending on the location.

Also, if you are traveling internationally check the knife laws in your destination country. Many countries around the world are not as relaxed about carrying knives as in the U.S.

Lastly, in the U.S. you don’t need to declare a knife that you have in checked luggage. The rules are different for firearms, which always need to be declared.


Our new home has beautiful entry doors but they have fancy glass that I worry is easy to break. I think that a criminal could break the door windows and unlock the door. Any ideas to prevent this?

-From Beth T.

Answer: Many folks like the look of doors with glass windows but there is no doubt they are less secure. The problem is the window portion is weak and can easily be broken.

As for the glass, you can install security window films such as one from 3M that will help hold the glass in place. This won’t prevent the glass from breaking but it will make it more difficult to do so.

Lastly, I would install a security system with a glass break sensor. This sensor should be located near the door with the glass window so it can alert you if the glass is broken. (This will create a very loud alarm if someone smashes the window.)

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