Post by: Mark Deane
Express Kidnap is a method of abduction, usually quick, violent in nature and where a small ransom is either demanded from the family or employer of the victim, or by the victim being forced to withdraw money from his or her ATM account.
Often Express Kidnap gangs will orchestrate a scenario, either through pre-attack planning, or dynamic assault of an individual or group. The most common method is to forcefully gain and maintain control of the victim/s inside a vehicle. Then drive the victim/s around to different ATMs, and have them provide their PINs (normally through intimidation and force), withdrawing the largest amount/s possible.
Frequently gangs work in tandem with Taxi drivers, and/or wait at key locations such as airports, ATMs, outside bars/nightclubs looking for potential targets, and the most opportune moments to strike.
There are five key things one can do to minimize the risk of Express Kidnap:
- Avoid Being Targeted
If traveling to an area of increased risk avoid wearing any jewelry, watches, or expensive looking items that will draw attention to you. Try to blend in as much as possible, but also do not have a ‘spotlight’ placed on you because of the clothing, accessories or jewelry that you wear. Remember – the items do not necessarily have to be expensive, merely look expensive, or make you stand out from the crowd.
2. Learn & Develop Situational Awareness
Do not walk around with your 'head in the clouds' and try to 'switch on' in other words be aware of what is going on around you, and make sure you look like you are aware of your surroundings. If you look confident, and aware you are less likely to be targeted. Consider taking training in travel safety and situational awareness.
- Avoid Utilizing Taxis and Public Transport Wherever Possible
There is an increased risk of Express Kidnap in all locations from illegal or opportunistic taxi drivers who work alongside criminal gangs. There is a constant risk in certain other countries and cities from any taxi, predominantly (but not exclusively) in Latin America. If you use licensed taxis, make sure that you pick them up from regulated, and formal taxi locations. Further, check the photo of the driver on the taxi license matches the driver. If uncertain during the journey call someone and verbally identify the taxi and the name of the driver, preferably with a registration number. This may deter the driver from carrying out anything, but would also assist in finding you should a situation occur. The best situation which pre-empts the threat to avoid the danger is to utilize a secure transportation service – like Execsecure.
- React Immediately
If a criminal Express Kidnap gang has targeted you there is sometimes a small window of opportunity for escape prior to being in their control. If you hear or see a vehicle pulling up aggressively, or you see your driver veer off a route and look to pull over, or communicate with a third party - think about escape and evasion. What can you do there and now, and how will you escape the immediate vicinity? Always try to pre-empt issues running through ‘what-if’ Scenarios in your head. Then if the worse case scenario does occur, you will be in the best situation to react accordingly. Click here to read our How to Survive Express Kidnap Article.
- Avoid high-risk behaviors and actions
Avoid places where people are likely to have lots of cash on them—such as casinos and adult clubs. Be extra vigilant and careful after just using an ATM. Avoid traveling at night, and avoid being in public on your own whenever possible, especially at night.