An excerpt from a Barron’s article in the Dow Jones News Services (5.21.2011) titled Protecting Yourself Against Kidnapping describes one woman’s harrowing experience with kidnappers and how she was able to save herself:
‘When Gert Boyle, the octogenarian chairman of Columbia Sportswear Co., returned home last November, she found a gunman waiting in the driveway. The thug forced her into her house outside Portland, Ore., and roughed her up, the first part of a plan to kidnap the woman whose ads call her ‘one tough mother’. She foiled her captor, who allegedly wanted $20,000 in ransom, by triggering her home’s silent alarm, alerting police.’
Kidnaps for ransom, especially those of wealthy people and their families, have been on the rise, both internationally and in the United States. Because the wealthy travel freely and more often, they are even more prone to kidnappings in dangerous countries around the world. However, being very wealthy, and appearing very wealthy, in a foreign country where kidnappings are prominent can result in the same circumstance. Whether you are a wealthy business owner or a college student on spring break, any individual traveling to any high risk foreign country should take all precautions to not present themselves as having any sort of money. Flashy jewelry, watches, designer clothing, accessories, expensive vehicles, and staying at high-end hotels are like flashing road signals to dangerous criminals. In many of these countries there are few deterrents when planning to commit the kidnappings, there the majority are never reported and the criminals are never caught. The fear that the local law enforcement is corrupt and may actually assist in the kidnappings outweighs the idea that reporting an abduction may result in finding the kidnapped individual. However a kidnapping victim may be better off in a foreign country, where kidnappings are more of an organized business, than in the United States where physical harm and even death are far more common among amateur and first-time kidnappers.
The best advice is to take preventative measures. The time to start thinking about what to do is not after a kidnapping has already occurred. Most preventative advice can be applied to both traveling abroad and in daily life, avoiding possible abductions both at home and on vacation. Leave the extravagant luggage, jewelry and clothing at home, never pull out all of the cash you are carrying all once, and try not to be loud especially when speaking of expenses in public or while traveling. Register your trip on the State Department website and learn about high risk neighborhoods and threats in the country you are visiting. Social Media websites are a great source of information for criminals on the whereabouts and activities of their potential victims. Keep private information to a minimum on public websites and if an individual is at high risk, they should be sure to change their daily routine, not making any one place or route habitual. Lastly, and again for high risk individuals, they should be wary of the household staff and employees at their business. Background checks, drug tests, and psychological tests can be a great tool in determining who may become a high threat employee.