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In This Article

Some general reasons you may be a target

Security Starts at Home

Security When driving

What may signal a attack

If you are attacked

If you are kidnapped

If a rescue attempt begins




Kidnapping  - What Can You Do

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Kidnapping is a well known subject to people all over the world. From shopping mall parking lots to third world countries. Kidnapping occurs often for ransom, others are motivated out of a sense of reprisal against a foreign company or country. Many things about all of us could make us a prime target in the wrong circumstances. We are for example male or female. Our gender, appearance and habits may make us a likely target in some places. In Ethiopia and Rwanda men sometimes kidnap and rape women to force them into marriage, after the victim is pregnant the kidnapper may make himself known and attempt to force the family to accept the marriage. In  some Central Asian countries the man's male relatives kidnap the potential wife, afterward the man's female relatives try to convince the victim to marry the man. This may continue for days, sometimes if the victim continues defiant and refuses to marry, she may be released after all efforts to make her give in have failed.


Some general reasons you may be a target.

  • Nationality (Your home country, especially if traveling in a culturally different or traditionally hostile land may make you a target. Your Nationality may make it especially dangerous, very quickly, if a international crisis develops that causes people in the land where you are to view your country as a source or cause of the problem. Always check with the U.S. State Department or other agency where you live, as well as travel agents for warning concerning travel to certain lands before going.)

  • Gender

  • Ethnic origin ( Where you are perceived to have come from. Example: Race or Culture).

  • Religion ( If different from the prevailing belief in the area).

  • Social Status (If you are perceived to be wealthy or have "connections").

  • Job (The company you work for).

Any of the above and more could become justifications in the mind of a kidnapper for his criminal act.

Security starts at home.

Don't travel alone after dark or in secluded places. Kidnappers in parking lots ,or other random locations, choose their victims to decrease the potential of being caught. If you are out after dark, or going to a secluded place, make sure a trusted person (group of people in a dangerous area) is with you. Exit shopping centers with other groups of individuals if you are alone. Ask the store for help and a escort to your car if you suspect a problem. They will want to know.

Know where you are going and how to get there. Not knowing what to do or appearing confused may cause a criminal to pick you out of the crowd. Get a road map, subway, tube or train map, plan and study your route, especially in new places. Know for example what stops are before and after your stop, have a plan if you should miss your stop. Be alert regarding anyone who approaches you, stands near you, or loiters in the area for no reason. Read signs and directions in a effective manner. Do Not stand around looking confused. If you need glasses, wear them. Ask for directions from attendants or security personnel if needed.

If you are in a potentially hostile environment. Speak with your family or colleagues about the need for privacy regarding travel plans, times, routes as well as any personal information. Your personal daily habits are very important. Changing the routes you drive, the times you leave and vehicle colors or type, if possible, on a daily or regular basis. This can help you avoid an attack by depriving any potential attackers of knowing where you will be at any given time. Make it a habit to vary these travel details, shopping, errand and meal times as well as all your daily routine as widely as possible. Rather than instilling fear in young children, tell them the need to stay close to you and not talk to strangers and be alert to who they speak with and where they are, who is responsible for their care at all times.

Carry a cell phone. If service is available, obtain a cell phone. Have the numbers to your governments Embassy if in another country, local police, other emergency numbers, company security, hotel and other friends, contacts or individuals that you may need to contact, stored ahead of time in the phone. Know if a emergency phone number is available to call for emergency services in the area where you will travel, store it in the phone as well.

In a potentially Hostile Situation or Environment.

  • Don't: Maintain set habits or times that can become known to others by observation.

  • Don't: Let others know where you are going or when unless they have a need to know.

  • Impress on family, friends and coworkers the need for privacy or confidentiality about personal information.

  • If you could be a victim of a car bombing.

    • Drill a hole through the rear of your tail pipe, put a small bolt through your tail pipe(s) to stop insertion of any object.

    • Park in secure areas

    • When you park take note of impressions in dirt or other items laying around your vehicle.

    • When you return to the vehicle take note if anything has changed that could indicate activity around or under your vehicle.

    • Look in and under the car ( and engine compartment if desired) for unusual clean or strange wires or other devices that seem out of place, duct or electrical tape wrapped around any item, anything that should not be present.

    • Do Not allow anyone access to your vehicle without your presence.

    • Do Not give keys to others, even pass keys or other keys that also contain your vehicle keys, keep these and any home or living quarters keys separately.

  • Use a plain car for personal travel, similar to what others in the area might drive if possible. Don't call attention to yourself with an official car or Suv that identifies you to others unless needed. Tint your windows if your appearance could alert others of who you are.

  • Park in secure locations.

  • Do Not travel through areas that are known to be dangerous, or are secluded where you would stand out.


Use your imagination and consult with others who have experience in this area for more information.


Security when driving

   Attacks often occur outside the home, in the driveway while leaving for work, during the commute to or from work or another location. These attacks occur after your habits have been established through surveillance.

The most predictable habit that can be used against you is the route you travel between your home and place of work or any commonly frequented place. Change these routes as much as possible, regularly.

  Check occasionally to see that no one is following you. Change directions and make turns that reverse your course. Notice if any of the vehicles behind you make the same turns. When changing lanes does the vehicle always keep it's way open to follow you. Does it turn and continue following you? No one will drive around aimlessly in opposite directions. For example, drive streets so that you are traveling in a circle. Then turn in the opposite direction. If you suspect that you are being followed take note of a description of the car and its occupants, if possible, any identifying marks or numbers.

  Carry a cell phone. Inconspicuously call for help, if possible, don't glare at or drive aggressively toward the other vehicle, simply call for help as you would make any other call as soon as you have noticed a threat. Follow the instructions you receive.

   If no phone is available, do not, under any circumstances, take any action that might provoke them or that could lead to a confrontation, such as driving aggressively or threateningly, or other aggressive moves or gestures. Do not stop your vehicle to confront anyone. Keep an eye on the other vehicle, it is ok if they see that you are watching them (Not glaring at them).  Drive directly to the nearest safe haven, such as a your nations embassy if you are in another land, or to a police station, advise the appropriate security or police authorities. Do Not drive to your home or any other location. Drive directly to a safe location on well traveled streets. Honk your horn repeatedly directly in front of the police station to attract attention if there is no one around.

Keep your windows rolled up and doors locked when driving. Don't drive to slowly in dangerous areas. Don't stop at intersections regardless of the signal, if it is safe to drive on, if individuals approach your vehicle or the curb as you pull up. If anyone starts to approach you at a secluded intersection while in a known dangerous area, drive immediately on without waiting for a signal. Keep a watch out for any unusual activity and leave immediately if anyone appears in a dangerous area.

Fasten your seat belt securely if you are followed.

What may signal an attack

Learn to recognize the signs of an attack.

  • The trailing vehicle or other vehicles start

    • Following closely

    • Try to pass

    • Other vehicles appear to be driving slowly ahead in a manner that could box you in.

  • A person or bicyclist falls in the road ahead of you.

  • A workman or flagman suddenly appears ahead of you, flagging you down or stopping traffic.

  • A disabled car or accident victim laying in the road in front of you.

  • Any package laying in the road or at the curb in front of you.

  • A group of pedestrians moving into the road

  • Other cars maneuvering to box you in.

  • Your vehicle is deliberately struck by another. (even a bump)

  • Sudden  braking by vehicle in front of you for no reason.

  • Any sudden activity or Gun fire.

  • Anyone approaching either car window at a intersection. (Drive through the intersection regardless of the signal if you feel someone is approaching your car.

If you are attacked

  You must consider options you may use ahead of time that take into consideration the possible circumstances you may find yourself in. There will be no time for thought and decision making once the attack begins.

If you are walking in a parking lot, move in between parked cars into another lane if a suspicious vehicle drives up to you as if it will stop. Push on cars you walk past with your hands as you go to set off car alarms. Go back inside to a safe location. If you are pursued, drop everything and run for safety. Yell for help and cause as much commotion as possible.

If you are driving while a attack begins, sound your horn as much as possible. Cause as much commotion as you can to draw attention. Even if you do not escape, this will cause witnesses to see what is happening, this may in turn lead to your abduction being reported immediately, rather than being discovered later.

If your path is blocked while driving by an obstacle ahead you have one of four options if you act quickly.

  1. Turn onto another street before you reach the obstacle. Drive quickly and directly to a safe location. Be careful to avoid wrecking as this will not help.

  2. Drive around the obstacle


    If you are driving a large vehicle, with large tires, one option is to jump the curb. This can be risky as you could lose control of the vehicle or deflate your tires. Hold onto the wheel tightly. If you are almost at a stop drive aggressively, (shift the gear lower on a manual transmission) gun the engine and hit the curb at an angle. When jumping the curb you should be traveling less than 30 miles per hour. Hit the curb at a 30 to 45 degree angle. Run over any small objects such as small bushes or trash cans in your path if you cannot avoid them. Large objects may stop or deflect your vehicle, they may also injure you or other passengers. Hold on tightly.

    Pass the obstacle on the left.
    If individuals ahead make aggressive moves to stop you drive very aggressively to the left and sound your horn. Your aggressive actions will convey the message to anyone blocking the road that they had better move  because your not stopping! They are responsible to move themselves out of your path, if they hurl themselves in front of your vehicle then they should expect to be ran over. Hold on to the steering wheel tightly and don't slow down.

     Do not run over bystanders, they are just as innocent as you are.

  3. Make a QUICK U turn, drive very aggressively. The trailing vehicle may be prepared to try to stop you in this maneuver. Don't stop, use option 4 if needed. Continue sounding your horn. Go directly to a safe location. Be careful to avoid wrecking if you can as this will not help.

  4. Ram the obstacle. If you are in a large heavy vehicle and the obstacle blocking the road isn't much larger you have the option to ram the vehicle.

Hit the obstacle at an angle at either the front or rear end, at the tires, in an attempt to spin it around and out of your way. Hit it hard, using the corner of your vehicle traveling at an angle as much as possible. your goal is for the front corner and side of your vehicle to take most of the impact. If you hit head on, your radiator will likely break and you won't get very far if that happens. Choose the side angled away from you if there is one. In the illustration above the rear end of the car is angles away from us.

Drive directly to a safe location.

If your vehicle fails you still have your feet. Bailout as quickly as possible, leave vehicle contents behind except for your cell phone. Do not stop to set the parking Brake, as soon as the car stops, bail out and run. If you have passengers tell them to bail out and run when the car stops. Let them know you won't be setting the brake so they "had better give it their all" to get out fast and run away.  Another tactic with passengers is to let them out, one at a time in good locations where they can hide or get a running chance to reach safety, as you go. If you can't do that because your attackers are right behind you, don't try it. When you bail out Do Not run in front of the vehicle. It may run over or strike you. Run at an angle away from the vehicle and away from your attackers. Do Not run along the side of the street or road. Leave the street and run between parked cars into large stores or businesses if possible. To any sign of populated civilization. Scream, call for help, make as much commotion as possible to draw attention. Do Not stop at the front door. Run toward the back of the building. Climb over or go under counters or other obstacles without any regard for signs, barriers, or embarrassment, call very loudly for help. Example: "Help! Someone is attacking me! Call the police!" again and again.

In a secluded rural area,

  Turning off your lights (if you can see well enough without them may disguise where you are or if your are turning at intersections. Doing this if possible before intersections can make it difficult for anyone following at a distance of knowing where you went. This won't work on dirt or gravel roads if it is dry, the billowing dirt trail will lead anyone to you.

Bailing Out in a Secluded Area.

  • Bail out just as described before, get away from your vehicle.

  • Listen for where pursuers may be and adjust your course to avoid them if possible.

  • Your greatest assets once you stop and hide are

    • Quite

    • Stillness

    • Camouflage (Dirt, leaves, grass, trees, depressions in the ground and so fourth.

In tall grass, stoop low and conceal your location as much as possible. Change directions for some distance before dropping to hide. Use ditches or holes as helpful cover if found. DO NOT call out for help unless you see other people or know for a fact that they are present and want to help.

  At night use the picture at the right to demonstrate how to change directions. Change directions many times if needed to evade. Make all of these maneuvers with the utmost silence! Do not crunch leaves or vegetation, be completely silent. You may curve in a wide arch in either direction if you have a good head start on your attackers and you know which way they are going by listening or seeing their lights. Do not go back to your vehicle or the road seek help from others wherever it can be found.

  If you must choose a hiding place quickly and quietly place leaves or grass over yourself completely. Do no leave a obvious outline of your body. Do not  scrape all the leaves from next to you if it is day time. Lie flat on the ground, in a hole or depression if possible. Cover yourself. Do not breath heavy, open your mouth wide and breath in and out very softly so that you cannot hear it. Do Not cough, sneeze or make any noise what so ever. There are no reasons no matter how serious to make any noise what so ever. Lay perfectly still and do not move even the slightest bit no matter how close your attackers come. As long as they are searching it means that they haven't found you.

If you are kidnapped

  • Continue fighting your captors and causing a commotion as long as you are in public.

  • Once you are subdued and can not fight, stop fighting. Calm yourself

  • If you are placed in the trunk of a car. While the car is moving, push on the plastic Brake light housing on either side, pushing hard enough will Brake them out, opening a hole to outside the trunk. Put your hands or other items out of the hole to attract attention from drivers that may be on the road.

  • Once in captivity be very courteous and mannerly. Do not argue with your captors. Listen intently if they speak to you. Speak in a kind gentle voice. Do not appear aggressive or threatening. Do not interrupt. Attempt to speak on friendly terms if possible.

  • Let your captors know you are a human being and a nice person. Your objective now is to convince your captors you don't deserve to be hurt. Talk to them about family, sports, hobbies and so on.

  • Do Not divulge anything that could be used against you.

  • Tell them kindly if you are part of any local group that they may respect.

  • Try to learn their names and who is in charge as well as where you may be or any plans they may have, DO NOT use their names when speaking to them unless they directly tell you who they are, keep the facts of what you know as a strict secret.

  • Devise a plan of daily activity, talk about that, family and so on, never about anything you overhear.

  • Tell them your company or relatives may pay a ransom if they are contacted and negotiated with. This gives you value. You are worth more to them alive

  • The more time passes the more of a chance you have of being released.

  • Retain your sense of self worth.

  • Do not sympathize with any criminal act nor participate with them.

  • Do Not complain to, or argue with your captors.

If a Rescue Attempt Begins


  • Lay on the floor with your hands away from your body.

  • Cooperate with ANY instruction given by a rescuer.

  • Do not become agitated if rescuers don't know who you are or think you are a terrorist or kidnapper.

  • Calmly explain, the confusion will clear.

The above is only some information provided strictly as opinion. This is not meant and should not be taken in any way as an advisement of any course of action in your situation. This information is meant to inspire you to form your own personal guidelines or tactics should you be placed in dangerous circumstances or become a victim of the all to common crime of kidnapping. If you face a real threat due to some circumstance contact law enforcement officials and other professionals for guidance in your situation.



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