Many times when I am out looking for sites to run, I will do an “out-and-back” from my main supply base. On the way out, I give priority to the DED rated combat sites and skip over the data sites, relic sites, and un-rated sites. I scan them all down and bookmark them, but I only do them on my way back.
So, a couple of nights ago, I ran a Sansha’s Annex site and got an escalation. The escalation took me back towards my home base. On the way to the escalation I saw a Cheetah on D-scan. Narrowing down D-scan to 15 degrees, I could see that he was at one of the data sites I had bookmarked. I docked out of D-scan range and refit to add a warp scrambler + disrupter. Most of the covops in lowsec seem to have dual warp stabs fit so 3 points is necessary. I suppose I could have used a faction scrambler that has a -3 warp strength, but I didn’t have one handy. Anyway, I warp into the site cloaked and I see the Cheetah. He is about 1/2 done with the site. I patiently move towards the second to last can. In a few minutes, he approaches my location. I wait until he begins the minigame, then I decloak, activate my disruptor + scram, and lock as soon as my decloaking delay expires. I acquire lock just as he is warping away. I got a message about him having warp stabs or something. Somehow, I must have only gotten 1 point on him. I am not sure if I was out of range or just misclicked and didn’t activate my scram. In any case, he had very fast reactions. He warped out in seconds after my decloaking. And then, a couple of seconds later, he disappeared from local. There was no way he could have gate jumped that fast. I ran D-scan again and the Cheetah was still showing! Aha! He had disconnected to trigger an automatic warp. Fortunately for him, I didn’t have my probe equipped. I quickly docked, fitted an expanded probe, undocked and launched probes but he was already gone.
I only started hunting covops ships at sites a couple of months ago, but I was 4 for 4 until this one got away. Next time I will remember to equip my expanded probe launcher before I go in. I also should have activated my missile launcher when I activated my disrupters – that should have extended his timer and I might have still caught him after I refitted. Oh well, live and learn.