My missus and I have been into "prepping" for about 15 years. Our house has a basement and it is practically wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with shelves--with just narrow aisles in between. The shelves are chockablock with storage food (all labeled and organized "FIFO"-style), medical supplies, assorted "field" type gear, tools, barter/charity stuff, ammo cans, propane cylinders (that fit our camp stove and camping lantern), reels of field phone wire, paper products, and so forth. Following the example of Mr. Whiskey (from your "Profiles") we have recently built up 27 sets of designated "charity duffles", each packed in a cheap Made-in-Taiwan nylon duffle bag. Each of these contains a Dutch Army surplus wool blanket, a Chinese knockoff of a Leatherman tool, a pair of gloves, a pile ("watch") cap, a half dozen pairs of socks, a thrift store man's jacket, room for four days worth of food (which we would pack from our FIFO inventory, as needed), a collapsing plastic water container (the type that Campmor sells), a waterproof match container, a tube tent, and a hand line fishing kit. ("Teach a man to fish...")
When we moved back to California in 1998, we picked our house specially because it was built in the 1940s. It is the oldest and sturdiest house on the block. (The neighborhood built up around the house, when the property was subdivided in the 1960s.) It has a basement and its own water well, which is now "off the books"--since the house is now on "city" [metered] water, but the well is still functional with a 24 VDC submersible well pump. I have four flush roof-mounted Kyocera PV panels (cannot be seen from the street) and six deep cycle batteries. The cables are run series-parallel to provide both 12 VDC and 24 VDC outputs.
Even though we live in a standard suburban neighborhood, none of out neighbors are any the wiser about our preps. At the core, I consider my preparations my own business. When the time comes to hand out the charity duffles, we will do so through an intermediary, like our church. (We are Methodists.)
After seeing what happened to that guy in Norco last year, I am glad that I keep a low profile. The specific measures that we have taken to keep a low profile are:
1.) We take no UPS deliveries at our house. Nearly all of our mail-ordered goods are sent to our private mail box at the local UPS Store (it was formerly a "MailBoxes, Etc.") From there, we take the boxes home in our minivan.We are always sure to unload the van from inside my garage, with the garage door shut. All of the empty boxes have the "to" and "from" address labels cut out with a box cutter knife. I discard the flattened boxes in the cardboard recycling dumpster behind the office where I work. (I'm a sales engineer for a medium-size company.)
2.) We don't subscribe to any shooting or hunting magazines. We get all of the gun information we need online. To "stay in the fight" politically, I do make regular anonymous contributions to the GOA, JPFO and CRPA [The California Rifle and Pistol Association, a firearms rights organization], via Post Office Money Orders. (BTW, I do the same for the SurvivalBlog [10 Cent] Challenge. Shame on any of you that read this blog regularly but don't pony up the 10 pennies a day!)
3.) We access all web pages via Anonymizer, with no exceptions.
4.) Most of of our preps purchases are either made F2F, with cash, or with Post Office Money Orders if ordering by mail. This eliminates the "trail of paper" from writing checks or using a credit card. We buy a lot from Nitro-Pak, Ready Made Resources, Major Surplus, and Lehman's.
5.) All of our guns, ammunition, gun gadgets, targets, and cleaning supplies are bought "private party", mainly at SoCal [(Southern California)] gun shows. Also, needless to mention, these are greenback transactions only! In California, we can still at least buy rifles and shotguns that are more than 50 years old without having to buy through a [licensed] dealer. We have two [M1] Garand rifles, and a FN.49, also [chambered] in .30-06. I'm still looking for one or two more of those, but they are scarce, and even harder to find private party. We also have three [Winchester] Model 12 pump[-action] 12 gauge shotguns, two of which have had their barrels shortened to 18.5 inches. Handgun buys in California all require paperwork, but by Divine Providence I bought several Glocks and [Colt Model] 1911s when I was living in Arizona for a couple years, back in the late '90s. [JWR Adds: That loophole was recently closed for Californians. Anyone moving into the state must now register their handguns. Drat! But at least there was a grandfather clause.] There is isn't much to do out in the desert except shoot, so I bought a lot of guns when we were there.
6.) We signed up for an identity theft and credit report checking protection plan three years ago. I noticed that SurvivalBlog just started running an ad from Comprehensive Risk Solutions. Their service has more bells and whistles and a lower subscription cost that our current provider, so we will switch [to them] when our current subscription lapses. [JWR Adds: I highly recommend this service. It is cheap insurance to prevent what would otherwise be a very costly incident.]
7.) We use a TracFone whenever calling a mail order vendor. (No calling history paper trail.)
8. ) We don't mention our preps to anyone outside of our family. We have coached our kids from an early age to keep their lips zipped.
9.) Whenever we have anybody visit our home, the basement door stays closed and locked. (It is a keyed deadbolt lock.) The basement has no windows. Most of our friends and relatives don't realize that we even have a basement. (Basements are actually rare in California tract neighborhoods.) To anybody that visits, the basement door just looks like a locked closet.
10.) We don't leave anything "suspicious" out where it can be seen in our house and garage.
These precautions might seem kinda "over the top", but put yourself in my shoes. In the People's Republic of California it pays to be a bit of a Secret Squirrel. I does cost me about $300 per year to get my mail and packages at the UPS Store, but I consider that a small price to pay for my privacy. I plan to retire to the mountains of central Nevada in nine years, but for now, I am making do in my present circumstances. - F.L. in Southern California