The drama of kidnapping

secuestro expresA known media company published the testimony of a Venezuelan citizen who had been a victim of express kidnapping in Caracas. This person, who asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, described the impressions and common-sense decisions that helped him survive this experience.

As a recommendation, in the text below we highlighted the aspects to be considered in a similar circumstance.

“They say writing can calm your mind. Kidnapping is doubtlessly one of the cruelest crimes, as it not only affects the abducted but also, and probably even more, their families, who only listen to the threatening voice of the kidnapper, if they’re lucky enough to get contacted by them. You can never be sure of the victim’s physical condition or even when the nightmare will be over, since there’s a chance you’ll never see your loved one again.”

…kidnappers, as the predators they are, are always looking for the weakest, most vulnerable, distracted individuals. They feel no compassion or pity, they don’t listen to begs and trying to find their human spot is a waste of time. The one thing that makes us different from that wild species is our ability to reason, our intelligence, and that’s the best defense we’ve got against these predators once we’re in their hands.

There are two types of kidnappings: planned operations and casual, random operations. In Caracas, the most common type is the random case, known in Colombia as miraculous fishing, and in Venezuela as Express Kidnapping. There are different ways to proceed and different circumstances but, in general, kidnappers look for vehicles driven by distracted people with no more than 3 occupants and the right opportunity to intercept them on the road or when arriving to their destination, using two vehicles, one in front and one behind it.

In our case, we had an armored car but the driver didn’t know how to use that protection tool.

We were caught by a very well organized group armed with assault rifles, which led me to decide it was better to surrender. Perhaps if we’d been aware and noticed we were being tailed, we might have driven faster towards a crowded place or drive around for a while before going back home.

At first you can’t believe your number has come up, it’s not just another story from someone you know, it’s you this time, and those first few minutes of anguish when you walk into that dark room of kidnapping, you have no idea what’s inside. From that point on, it is important to stay calm, try to control your breathing and remain quiet, there’s nothing you can say that will change the situation, so obey your kidnappers, close your eyes or look at the floor and never make eye contact with the criminals. Recognizing one of them is signing a death sentence.

The stress will cause palpitations, an urge to scream, to throw up, to run, but it is important to try and calm yourself down: that’s the only option you have in that moment. They’ll ask if you’re armed (being armed is not recommendable, there’s a much higher chance of surviving if you’re not armed). You should expect being harmed, although you might be lucky enough to get a pro who wants to communicate directly, seriously and with control in order to gain your trust appearing to be a good guy to get more money in the shortest amount of time possible without complications. Abductees will get threatened by the kidnappers, claiming to have a connection with the police and stating they’ll get a message in real time if the victim’s family decides to contact the cops. This is most likely not true.

The victim might think this situation could last for hours, days or even months, but they should repeat themselves as mantra… stay calm, I’m going to make it out of this, I can survive this. Melancholic and catastrophic thoughts should be avoided, always returning to the mantra, to a calm breathing, praying helps a lot. If you feel like throwing up, do so, that will make the predator uncomfortable and leave evidence that could be useful. Dignity is very important, and it’s something you cannot loose…”

Do not underestimate your kidnapper, he’s heard all the stories, so answer with the truth and, when possible, with half truths, if they discover you’re lying, you’re taking an unnecessary risk. The hell of kidnapping will not disappear by trying to negotiate quickly. If it’s an express kidnapping, you should expect it to last until dawn: if they start asking for 1.000.000, don’t say money is not a problem. That won’t make it shorter or faster, if anything, you might end up in a long-term kidnapping involving a lot of money.

If you want to prepare for a similar situation, gather your family and appoint a negotiator (not part of the family), keep his phone number and introduce him as a friend. If they want 1.000.000, offer 10.000. You need to take this easy, don’t talk too much, or you might give away unnecessary information. Know that this is the area where you can defend yourself, it is your wit against that of the kidnapper, he wants your money, you want to come out of this alive.

Don’t try to recognize the kidnapper, but pay attention to details such as the way he smells, talks, his shoes, his hands, the color of the floor, the ornaments in the car, their guns, those details help the authorities recognize these criminals. If you report them, there’s a possibility they might have been cops, or one of them might be, but most law enforcement agents want to get rid of these criminals, since they and their families are also affected…”

Anyone can be kidnapped, even if they have bodyguards and armored vehicles, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, middle class or a humble worker, we’re all affected by this whip.

You have to sit down and think about your strengths and weaknesses, don’t get paranoid but cautious. Neighborhoods close to the Cota Mil freeway are the most vulnerable, so it’s important to stay aware. When you’re out with friends, always stay together, following each others’ cars, always be aware of the cars behind you, especially on stoplights, speed bumps, or arriving home. If you find evidence of being followed, change your routine…”

“…we should always prevent. Our first weapon is being prepared both mentally and physically. We must teach our children how to take care of themselves and to be afraid of fear itself. We are stronger than we think we are”.

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