Missing from much coverage on and communiques from the A.L.F.s most expertly
planned break-ins and live liberations are any mention of how the activists gained
entry. And perhaps for good reason: revealing the method of access for the FBI and
the action’s target can provide clues to aid in the investigation and alert the facility
and others to loopholes in security which could be patched, impeding future actions.
Yet both the aspiring raider and academic voyeur read of skilled raids on a fortified
facilities, and ask every time: How did they get in?
Compiled from communiques, “how it was done” articles, media reports, and A.L.F.
raid videos, a brief look at the most innovative surrpetitous entry tactics, and what
can be learned from them.
Action: 47 rats liberated from Scripps Hospital. San Diego CA. February 10 th , 2008.
Method of entry: Unclocked door.
The action: Keeping it simple, activists gain access to a vivarium via an unlocked
door and bring 47 rats to freedom.
The Lesson: It is more fruitful to find opportunity than to wait for opportunity to
find you. Liberators make their own luck.
Action: 1,500 mink liberated from a fur farm. Astoria OR. October 17 th , 2008.
Method of entry: None needed. The farm, which spent its entire existence withhout
its address made public, was comfortable enough in its anonymity to never have
installed a fence. Within a month of its location being released publicly, the farm
The Lesson: Forethought is not requisite for a farmer entering the fur industry, but
it just may be necessary for them to stay in business.
The actions: The 90 recorded fur farm raids in the U.S. since 1995, seeing the
release of hundreds of thousands of animals.
Method of entry: Activists report bypassing occasional photoelectric beam sensors
by dropping to the ground and rolling under the beam.
The lesson: The low-tech can often defeat the high, and tricks from art gallery heist
films do sometimes work.
The action: 21 mice liberated from Lousiana State University. New Orleans LA.
April 22 nd , 2005.
Method of entry: Activists broke through a vent in a side door of the biology
The Lesson: While doors may still be known as the worst way in, they can never be
The action: 88 mice and 313 rats liberated from University of Iowa. Iowa City, IA.
November 14 th 2004
Method of Entry: While the lengthy communique reveals no clues as to how they
bypassed alarms for each of the psychology building’s security systems four-tiers
(perimeter, elevator, corridor, animal room), the video of the raid shows masked
activists accessing doors with what appears to be key cards, and picking the lock of
a secured elevator. Photos released post-raid also show activists reaching through a
door to unlock it via a hole they had cut through the wood, and post-raid media
coverage reports rooms were accessed via employee key cards which accessed more
rooms than the card’s issuers intended. Speculation centered around the raid being
an inside job.
The Lesson: Sophisticated security is only as secure as their most accessible key
The Action: 115 chickens liberated from Merial Select Pharmaceuticals. Berlin,
MD. February 27 th , 2003
Method of Entry: Animal house accessed by cutting through the windows and wire
mesh covers, bypassing the door alarm.
The Lesson: Like most amateur burglars, animal abusers assume everyone goes
through the front door. The wise liberator looks elsewhere.
The Action: 14 beagles liberated from Huntingdon Life Sciences. East Millstone, NJ.
March 31 st 2002
Method of Entry: Activists cut hole through ceiling to gain access to the animal
The Lesson: Walls and roofs are less physical barriers than psychological ones.
The Action: 179 birds liberated from Genesis Laboratories, a contract wildlife
toxicology lab. Wellington, CO. August 28 th , 2000.
Method of Entry: Using a high-speed drill and 3/8” drill bit, activists drilled several
holes into the lab’s metal siding. Using bolt cutters, the holes were then used to
begin cutting through the corrugated metal. Fiberglass insulation was stripped
away, and an additional hole was cut into the drywall giving them direct access to
The Lesson: With A.L.F. actions, Europe knows best. This was the first recorded
incident of U.S. activists importing the tried and tested UK tactic of drilling through
The Action: 116 animal liberated from the University of Minnesota. Millions of
dollars in damage done to equipment in second building. Minneapolis, MN. April 5 th
Method of Entry: The FBI was never able to determine how activsts gained access to
the two labs. Their best guess: the A.L.F. free-climbed the wall of a 5-story building
and gained access through the roof.
The Lesson: There is always a way in. And its best if they never find out what it was.
The Action: 31 animal liberated from Western Washington University. Bellingham,
WA. October 24 th , 1999.
Method of Entry: Activists entered the basement of the WWU psychology building
via unknown means. A set of keys was located in an unlocked office, giving them
direct access to the labs and vivariums.
The Lesson: Sometimes it is that easy, and you’ll never know until you put yourself
in a laboratory basement at midnight prepared for anything.
The Action: Break-in and sabotage at Washington State University Poultry
Research Laboratory. Puyallup, WA. November 20 th , 1999
Method of Entry: In the video released post-raid, activists are seen smashing
through a first-floor window, and crawling through to access the lab.
The Lesson: Aim for graceful, and settle for whatever works.
The Action: Two days after the torching of its trucks, the San Diego Meat Company
building is set on fire. January 30 th 1994.
Method of Entry: Access gained via a boarded up window.
The Lesson: Those who know have said that achieving maximum damage means
locating the structural center of the building.
The Action: Break-in at animal researcher Frederick Knowlton's Utah State
University office. Files taken and the office set on fire. Millville, UT. October 24 th
Method of Entry: Aluminum trim removed from window, and suction cups used to
remove pane to gain access the researcher’s office.
The Lesson: Going through the window doesn’t always mean dangerous volume and
The Action: Oregon State University Experimental Fur Farm has files confiscated,
building set on fire, and equipment destroyed. Facility closed as a result of this
action. Corvallis, OR. June 10 th 1991.
Method of Entry: Unlocked window.
The Lesson: Careless mistakes leading to the demise of labs don’t find themselves,
they need our help.
The Action: Washington State University Fur Animal Research Facility has two
buildings broken into and 6 mink, 7 coyotes, and 10 mice liberated. Two offices had
extensive damage done. Pullman, WA. August 13 th 1991.
Method of Entry: Myth and legend tells of A.L.F. operatives dressed as maintanence
workers entering the university building during the day, unscrewing the lock plates
which hold the door closed, and replacing the screws with dummy replacements.
These filed-down screws hold in place only during casual use, yet are so short as to
pop out of the frame with a forceful tug. Activists returned to the lab at night with
easy access to the building. Once inside, the fur industry researcher’s office was
accessed by pushing through the ceiling in the building halllway, and using a
keyhole saw to cut away the thin drywall above the ceiling tiles.
The Lesson: If you look like you belong, and you act like you belong – you belong.
The Action: Over 1,200 animals liberated and two fires set at the University of
Arizona in the largest laboratory liberation to date. Tucson, AZ. April 2 nd 1989.
Method of Entry: Acording to the post-raid article detailng the raid, a diverse
palette of tactics were used including opening building doors “with a few small
handheld tools which left no telltale sign of forced entry”, and cutting through an
extractor fan on the psychology building loading dock with tin snips. Activists video
taped the raid, which shows vivariums being accessed by liberators in lab coats
smashing holes through glass door windows, reaching in, and unlocking the doors
from the inside.
The Lesson: The over-arching lesson from this action and others: Being effective
most often means making your own doors.
The Action: 264 animals liberated and $120,000 damage done to University of
Oregon. Eugene, OR. October 26 th 1986.
Method of Entry: Undetectable.
The Lesson: Well-researched raiders know the layout and structural nuances of a
lab better than the university staff themselves.
The Action: Activists enter SEMA Corporation (now called Bioqual) overnight,
video-taping the conditions and liberating 4 chimpanzees. Rockvlle, MD. December
6 th 1986
Method of Entry: Usable key made from a photocopy of the original, accessed by
the A.L.F. momentarily by a contact on the inside.
The Lesson: It can be as much what you do as who you know.
The Action: Nearly 1000 animals liberated from UC-Riverside, equipment
sabotaged. Riverside, CA. April 20 th 1985
Method of Entry: Video released post-raid shows masked activists loading animals
into trucks via a basement door. Inside the lab, activists pry door hinges from walls
to access labs and vivariums.
The lesson: Locked doors are always negotiable.
The Action: University of Pennsylvania Head Injury Laboratory raided, equipment
damaged, videos of experiments confiscated. Philadelphia, PA. May 28 th 1984.
Method of Entry: Building accessed via ladder to unlocked second floor window.
Lock to lab picked.
The Lesson: She with the greatest skillset yields the greatest results.
The Action: 12 dogs liberated from UC-Harbor Medical Center. Los Angeles, CA.
December 25 th 1983.
Method of Entry: Sledhehammer taken to door hinges, doors removed.
The Lesson: Brute force is not always elegant, but sometimes effective.
The Action: 35 cats liberated and equipment damaged at Howard University
Medical School. Washington, DC. December 25 th 1983
Method of Entry: Building accessed with glass cutters to window. Lab doors pried
open with crowbar.
The Lesson: Multi-layered security requires a multi-layered toolbox.
The Action: U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute has 1 dog liberated. Bethesda,
MD. December 28 th 1982
Method of Entry: Walked in during daylight hours.
The Lesson: When intuitive tactics fail, go counterintuitive: ex. “raiding in plain