The premise of the show is that teams will compete to win $250,000 by being the last hunted team found by a group of crack investigators. Teams need to stay on the run/hidden from the hunters for 28 days and are given a four state area to disappear in. So far, so good. The teams are your standard reality-show cute (although the guy who had multiple felonies then became a lawyer was a nice twist) and the investigators are a collection of former FBI, CIA, etc which lends some credibility.
Mostly what I learned from the show (as I took copious notes much to the amusement of the spouse) was what not to do when you are in the situation of having people trying to track you down. Here's the high points:
- Teams are given a 48-hour window of time when they will be told to leave then they are given an hour head start on the hunters which should give them an edge. So my question is why were the teams featured this evening not even packing their backpacks until after they get the one hour head start? Shouldn't they have their bug out bags packed and ready to grab at a moment's notice?? This way they could have fully used their hour head start.
- Speaking of bags, one team of two ladies looked pretty obvious wandering down the road as they carried giant backpacks and hand-carried a huge tent. Might I suggest ultralight gear? And then I noticed it was raining so I wonder if their bags/gear was waterproofed or if they will end up with wet gear when they get to where they are going.
- And then there was one lady who, after getting the hour head start and then packing her bag, couldn't find her keys which took some precious few minutes away from her head start. Always put your keys where you can find them!
- The same lady had another glitch when she couldn't get a hold of her team mate and her team mate was late getting to their meet up point thus using up even more of their hour head start. Lesson: know your rendezvous spot and be there on time.
- Immediately the investigators start looking into the team's background, mainly by checking out their social media accounts and creating a behavioral profile of their targets. Of course things like heights, weight, tattoos, etc. are noted as are the couple's friends and relatives who are linked to them on social media. One of the investigators added that they can use what they find on social media to "push their (the hunted people's) buttons". Interesting.
- The investigators also noted that "just because you delete something on the internet, it doesn't mean it is really deleted and can't be found by investigators". Good point. They said that they will investigate every facet of a person's life and it looks like they meant it.
- Speaking of a person's general description, being "average" is a definite plus when you are being hunted. On one team, the guy is 6'8" and his girlfriend is a 5'11" beauty queen and model. Obvious much? The guy on the other team is very ginger (bright red hair), and another lady has an obvious mole on her face. This makes them much easier to identify.
- The investigators pointed out that the hunted couples will have the hardest time leaving their kids behind and will most likely be in contact with them (another way to track the couples via phone calls).
- One thing that all of the teams did was to call friends and family for help with leaving. They didn't want to drive their traceable cars so they called friends and family to give them a ride to their camping location, to the bus, to the friend's house, etc. If people are really being hunted, friends and family will be looked at just as much as these being hunted. Oddly enough, one of the teams was involved in a hit and run car accident as they were escaping. Finally, any calls they make to friends or family can be traced so there's that.
- And then there was the most common ways for the investigators to track the teams steps: ATM use (each team was given $500 for their adventure which they needed to get from an ATM), the video camera feeds from the ATMs (showed what the people looked like), cell phone pinging, red light camera photos, and CCTV cameras along city streets. Lesson: get as far away from the city as possible, as quickly as possible.
- One couple went to the parent's house for the first night, another couple went to a KOA campground for the night, and another went to a law school friend's house. All of these locations are easily traceable so they may want to consider stealth camping.
- One thing the investigators pounced on was going through the couple's homes. In their garbage they found receipts, notes, their laptops and tech items, garbage, etc...all of which can be used to trace them. Their biggest find was a calendar with the month of the hunt ripped off and tossed (but the person who did this didn't know that their writing was easily read from the indentations on the next calendar page just by running a lead pencil over it). From this page investigators were able to find the street of their friend's address as well as the name of the rental car company they used. Duh.
- When one couple suspected they were being watched (their friend saw a car parked across the way and figured it was some kind of surveillance), the guy went to the window and looked out--with the bright house lights on. This makes the person standing in the window light up like a Christmas tree. At least turn the lights off before you stand at the window!
- Another couple--the one carrying the tent--noted that they didn't bring any food or water. Another duh.
- By the middle of the show, everyone was pretty paranoid. One investigator pointed out that stress and paranoia makes people make poor decisions.
- One couple used wigs to change their appearance. They were such bad looking wigs that when it was time for the investigators to ask someone if they had seen the couple, he asked if the guy had seen a couple wearing bad wigs. Lesson: if you are going to do something to change your appearance, don't make yourself even more noticeable than you already are.
- Finally, at the end of the show, one couple was caught it it was almost too easy for the investigators. They used an ATM at the bus station (which the investigators were able to access through their bank records complete with a PHOTO of the couple using the ATM) so the investigators went to the bus station and asked the ticket guy if he had sold tickets to the couple (easy to remember as this couple included the 6'8" guy and they were wearing bad wigs). Of course the ticket guy remembered them and said they got on a bus to Atlanta where the ground team was waiting to capture them. Boom--one team done.
Overall it was a useful hour of information with some good lessons learned.