As news of two European birdwatchers and their abduction from the Philippines recently hit the news and last week two American women and their Egyptian guide were abducted at gunpoint in Egypt, travelers have again been forced to think about what they should do if they are kidnapped while traveling.
Kidnapping has, unfortunately, become almost a designer industry.
One form of kidnapping is implemented solely for the purpose of gaining access to cash. There are a few terms for this form of kidnapping: tiger grabbing or express kidnapping. These are more scam than actual kidnapping, but that doesn’t mean the victim absolutely will not be harmed. This type of kidnapping involves taking a hostage and using the situation to get a ransom or taking the hostage to their own bank and having them empty their accounts, handing the cash over to the kidnappers. Often, the hostage is released after but the risk remains that the kidnappers could do violence.
Lately, virtual kidnappings have been taking place as well. Again, these are more scam than truly dangerous situations. The perpetrators wait until the target is unreachable, traveling in an area with no cell phone coverage is one example. Then, they contact the family or the individual’s business demanding a ransom.
What are the best recommendations for avoiding a kidnapping?
- As always, stick to safer areas and stay alert. Looking confidently around you and making eye contact with otehrs, can deter thieves from choosing you.
- Avoid looking like you have a lot of money – leave your jewelry and baubles at home, keep your wallet close to you, and dress to fit in with the locals.
- Keep others informed about your whereabouts. If your family or business partners know that you are going off grid for an expected amount of time, they won’t be as easily fooled or worried.
- Vary your routes and daily routines – kidnappers tend to watch their targets for a little time before they strike so they can more easily manage the situation.
- Never leave your drink unattended and limit your alcohol consumption in public areas.
So, what do you do if you are kidnapped?
- Unfortunately the key, according to experts, is to comply with the kidnappers requests. It’s important to do what you’re instructed since the kidnappers are more likely to quickly get you out of their lives to avoid further risk to themselves if you simply do what they want.
In most countries, paying a ransom is illegal. That’s because it perpetuates the problem by encouraging other desperate people to try it. Members of law enforcement typically advise families not to pay the ransom.