IN my letter ‘kidnapping and hostage survival’ (June 14), I have
explained the orderal, which a victim of kidnapping has to go through
during the period of his or her captivity and suggestions how to react
while under hostage situation. I would now like to explain certain
measures which if taken can save the people from becoming a victim of
Kidnappings just do not occur suddenly. These are always planned. The
planning for kidnapping starts several weeks or may be months before the
actual time of action. The kidnappers observe their target and carryout
detailed survey of the area to select the suitable site and time for
kidnapping. During the survey they observe and note maximum details
regarding the person whom they want to kidnap. For example, his or her
daily routine, routes followed, social activities, personal habits,
security arrangements and identities of family members etc.
A kidnapper’s actions are influenced by their ability to operate safely
and confidently. They ultimately release the victim, or kill him or
exert additional psychological pressure on the Victims Company or family
as the effect of a kidnapping specially on spouses and children can be
particularly traumatic, in the hopes of coercing the payment of the
demanded ransom or concession.
While targeting a victim kidnappers and other criminals have been known
to evaluate their chances of success based on the following
- Apparent wealth.The potential gain from kidnapping and the
apparent ability of the would be victim or his company to pay ransom
or an extortion demand.
- Media value. Individual or corporate name recognition, product
or service identification and your standing in business, government,
entertainment industry or social circle all add to your value as a
- Family. Spouses and children of the targeted victim are
particularly valuable and prized targets.
- Accessibility. The paradigm of the path of least
resistance applies. A ‘hard’ or protected target is less likely to
be a victim than a ‘soft’ or vulnerable target.
As a security professional I suggest following points as a guide for
reducing chances of becoming a victim of kidnapping: -
- Increase your awareness by learning more about the nature and
scope of the threats that exist in the area. Read the accounts of
criminal activity in the newspapers and learn from the experience of
- Lower your profile. It’s the perceived wealth, which makes you a
target for one class of criminal, while your apparent vulnerability
makes you a target for another.
- Avoid potentially dangerous situation recognizing a potentially
dangerous situation without taking action to avoid involvement is
- Respond properly if confronted. The appropriate response to a
threat of kidnapping covers a broad spectrum-from passive compliance
to disabling the attacker and escaping.
- Adopt and follow all principals of good security.
- Use common sense.
- Keep yourself well informed about the day-to-day criminal
activities in the country.
- Exercise prudent judgment.
- Conduct your personal vulnerability assessment.
- Those who frequently travel within the country or abroad should
make an even more detailed personal vulnerability assessment.
- Familiarize your family members with the personal vulnerability
assessment made. But be careful not to scare them.
- Talk candidly about safety concerns with your family especially
as spouses and children besides being targeted, could carelessly
disclose information regarding your activities, which can lead to
Professional kidnappers also apply the principle of risk reduction in
the selection of target. Their objective, is of course, is to reduce the
risk of failure. Given a chance, they will focus their efforts on a
target that offers the best chance of success that is a victim whose
personal security habits are lax and whose patterns of activities are
unpredictable. By following the above suggestions, you will complicate
kidnapper’s planning to such an extent and degree, that, they will most
likely look elsewhere for a victim.