News & Media

Friday, November 14, 2008

Street Smarts Equal Safety: How to Not Be a Target for Kidnappers

The boogie man. Monsters under the bed. Things that go bump in the night. When you were young, there were plenty of things to fear. But you also knew a nightlight, a quick check under the bed, and some reassuring words from your parents were the right precautions to take to make sure you got a safe, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Now that you have made it to adulthood, you know that those monsters under the bed were only a figment of your creative imagination, and there are far more realistic scenarios to fear, such as the obstacles you will face when living abroad. While the boogie man may not be real, there are plenty of other potential bad guys you may come across in your travels, who can not only ruin your day, but also empty your bank account.

In many parts of the world, expatriates are attractive targets to kidnappers. It is often difficult for expatriates and travelers to blend in with the locals, and any sign that a person is a foreigner or from a first-world country, increases their exposure. Kidnapping usually serves the purpose of yielding a monetary gain or wide media exposure. Criminals often target high profile organizations, first-world professionals and their families, since they believe they will be able to obtain a higher ransom. Other kidnappers are not requesting a ransom, but instead seek to draw media attention to their particular religious or political belief through a high profile kidnapping.

Events can occur anywhere, but there are many “hotspots” where it is important to remain vigilant while traveling. While Mexico continues to top the list, other Latin American countries such as Haiti, Venezuela and Brazil have also seen increases. India has also experienced a significant rise in kidnapping events and is the most recent country to be added to the hotspot list. Kevin Henry, Assistant Vice President of AIG WorldSource Crisis Management, says the Indian government has reported at least 700 kidnap for ransom gangs are active in India. “Currently, most victims in India are Indian businesspeople and children,” he notes, “but there is a concern over the growing threat to expatriates and temporary travelers.”

This is an excerpt from our summer edition of GlobalInsight. Read the rest of the article and tips on how to prevent a kidnapping here.

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