Many times, terrorists use motor vehicles belonging to individuals, corporations, public utilities, or government agencies as targets of their attacks. Information is the most important element in planning, preparing for, and conducting a motor vehicle search.

Should you be called to conduct such a search, the following procedures are recommended:

  • Call in trained professionals to conduct the search or to provide guidance to searchers whenever there is the possibility’ that an explosive or incendiary device may be present in a motor vehicle and may be activated by a function of the vehicle.
  • Where appropriate, determine to whom the vehicle is registered, the driver or drivers, and the names of previous passengers or others who may have had access to the vehicle. This information can help determine the target of the terrorist’s attack and maybe even the location of the device.
  • Remote is the key word in vehicle searches, and in this regard it is important to remember that all actions should be done by remote control, whether it be opening the trunk or removing its contents. Use tapes, lines, and hooks when performing functions such as removing
  • hubcaps; opening doors, hoods, and interior hood latches; and raising or lowering window visors.
  • The search generally begins under or around the exterior. Check with mirrors for the presence of extraneous wire, rope, string, or other foreign material that could be in the vehicle’s tires or undercarriage. Pay special attention to trunk locks, locking gasoline caps, and interior hood and trunk releases.
  • Disconnect all electrical components such as the battery.
  • The construction and configuration of a vehicle provide numerous hiding places for many types of explosive or incendiary devices. These include seat cushions, seats, floor mats and coverings, the interior of the roof area, and the glove and/or storage compartments. Be careful, however, not to place undue pressure or weight on the seat cushions, seats, or floor. Incendiary devices can be taped or suspended on the neck of the gas tank. Sometimes the tank itself may have to be removed for inspection of the area.

The vehicle’s compact nature also provides enough containment and confinement to guarantee amplification of the explosive and/or incendiary effects of the device, including blast pressure shock, shrapnel, and heat. Add to this list the fuel within the vehicle, and the destructive potential from flames and secondaryexplosions increases even more.

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