Kidnapping is a real threat to people worldwide, especially personnel or anybody perceived as wielding significant power or wealth. Here are some tips to avoid being kidnapped and some actions to take if you are kidnapped. Always check on the potential for kidnapping before leaving home. Conduct due diligence review of counterparts before conducting travel. Verify the identity of contacts and associations before conducting travel or meeting in person. Arrange for airport pick-up ahead of time, with verification methods of identity agreed upon ahead of time.
In a Car
Be aware of your surroundings if traveling by vehicle.
- Check in and around your car before entering to ensure that no one is hiding inside or nearby.
- Keep car doors locked and windows up at all times.
- If suspicious people approach you when you are stopped at, or approaching, a red light, run the light if the situation appears dangerous.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers.
- If you see an accident or a stranded motorist, report it from the nearest telephone instead of stopping. Try not to stop or become involved.
- When you drive someone to their home or hotel, ensure they are safely inside before driving away, and make them do the same for you.
- If possible, park only in well-lit, heavily-traveled areas.
- Try not to park next to vans or trucks, as you can be easily pulled inside.
- Check your surroundings before getting out of your car.
- Experienced kidnappers often conduct surveillance on potential victims using cars; therefore, be wary of the same cars following you for long periods of time.
- Vary driving routes and times to and from work if possible.
- Change cars from time to time.
- Note vulnerable spots, like blind turns, on your most commonly traveled routes.
- Plan an accessible escape route.
On the Street
If walking to your destination, use these tips to avoid kidnapping.
- Tell a trusted person where you will be, who you will be with and when you expect to return.
- If you sense someone is following you when you get off a bus or train, walk toward a well-populated area.
- Do not wear headphones or read while walking or standing on the street.
- When on the street, walk facing oncoming traffic. It will be harder for someone in a vehicle to abduct you.
- Do not hitchhike.
- Try to maintain a low profile.
- Modify your fashion style, toning-down colors and accessories.
- Wear comfortable clothing; women should avoid wearing high heels, which are difficult to run in if attempting to escape.
- Avoid wearing clothing with long straps such as scarves, necklaces, and purses.
- Try to not overload yourself with packages.
- Stay off the street if you are alone and upset or under the influence of medications or alcohol.
- Avoid using outside ATMs at night or in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Avoid isolated or poorly lit restrooms and be extra careful in stairwells.
- Do not get in an elevator with someone who makes you uncomfortable. In an elevator, stand near the controls and locate the emergency button.
If You Are Kidnapped
The initial phase of a kidnapping provides the best opportunities to escape.
- If you are in a public area at the time of an abduction attempt, make as much commotion as possible to draw attention to your situation.
- If the abduction attempt takes place in your hotel room, make noise, attempt to arouse the suspicion or concern of hotel employees or of those in neighboring rooms.
- If the attempted abduction takes place while you are in your car, do not leave your car even under duress, use time to your advantage and passively resist.
- Understand that your abduction will likely be brought to the attention of authorities and the process of notification and search will begin, although it might be hours or days before your absence is reported
- If abducted, follow your captors’ instructions; do not physically resist.
- If forced into a trunk/boot of a vehicle or specially built transport container, understand the captors are trying to move you from the “point of attack” to the confinement phase and that you can be moved from one vehicle to several over the course of hours.
- Your captors can administer drugs to make you more compliant. Resisting will be futile and might result in you being harmed.
- Do not struggle in a confined space.
- Do not antagonize your captors unnecessarily. It is important to “humanize” your situation and establish ground rules for survival.
- Expect to be held for a long time accompanied by long periods of isolation. Lack of food, drink, sleep and threats are not unusual.
- Kidnap victims are generally released unharmed after successful ransom negotiations conclude.
- Escape is generally not an option. A failed attempt can result in retaliation.
If possible, remember every sensory detail you can. Use the following to aid you in case of a situation.
- Visualize the route taken; take note of turns and street noises.
- Keep track of the amount of time spent between transport points.
- Note the details of rooms and the sounds of activity in buildings.
- Study the layout of the building and its surroundings.
- Listen for nearby sounds and distinguishable smells.
- Get to know your captors.
- Stay mentally active by memorizing and recalling details.
- Stay physically active. Use isometric and flexing exercises.
- Eat and drink what is given to you.
- Maintain your hygiene as best as possible.
- Keep track of time. Devise a way to track the day, date, and time.
- If you are being held with other hostages, devise ways to communicate.
- Ask for medication if required, reading material, playing cards, clean clothes, regular bathroom visits.
- Be aware of the “Stockholm Syndrome."
- Maintain eye contact with your captors, especially those who are guarding you.
- Remember you are a valuable investment.
With Your Captors
It's important to track the behavior of your captors and keep yourself as healthy as possible.
- Get to know your captors. Learn their schedules, and identify their habits, strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, likes, and dislikes.
- Remain cooperative. Attempt to establish rapport with your captors or guards.
- When communication is permitted, ask for items that will increase your comfort.
- Make your captors aware of your needs.
This information is provided as a general guide only and should not take precedence over company or security group provided recommendations.
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