Venezuela placed fifth in kidnapping risk

14gaes630lrVenezuela is currently fifth in the world’s top 20 countries with higher kidnapping risk, according to a report prepared between January and September 2013 and presented by the international risk consultancy firm Control Risk, published on www.businessinsider.com, a website specialized in economics and technology.

According to the report, Venezuela is only preceded by Mexico, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, in ascending order. According to unofficial numbers, the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations’ Corps received 382 kidnapping reports nationwide between January 1 and November 12. However, these numbers do not include cases handled by the National Commando against Extortion and Kidnapping (GAES), or unreported cases.

Control Risk’s report points out “Caracas was the critical point for kidnapping during the first semester of 2013. Of the abductions reported in that period, 33% occurred in the capital city,” says the risk assessment company’s website.

The information portal indicates the proportion of kidnapings in Latin America has decreased to half the cases reported in 2005. Of the region’s countries that appear on the list, Colombia is ninth, Guatemala 12th and Brazil 16th.

Source: El Universal

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What to do in a kidnapping situation (The Family)

mala noticiaIn a kidnapping situation, both the victim and his/her family need to assume positions that favor a successful conclusion to this traumatic experience. G4S Venezuela offers a few important recommendations on what to do in case you are a victim of this abominable crime:

What should the family do

  • Report the kidnapping.
  • Be discrete about the event, tell only your immediate family.
  • Obtain assistance from specialists in negotiation and leave a single family member in charge of the whole process.
  • Remain calm.
  • Limit your phone contacts to avoid leaks of information.
  • Don’t carry out investigations on your own.
  • Don’t get carried away by rumors.
  • Don’t make quick decisions.
  • Don’t pay a ransom without proof of life.
  • Consider kidnapping is usually about money and not personal vendetta.
  • Once your family members have been released, have them checked by a doctor; then listen to them and don’t push them to talk about their time in captivity.
  • The whole family should start therapy.

What to do in a kidnapping situation (The Victim)

secuestro3.jpegIn a kidnapping situation, both the victim and his/her family need to assume positions that favor a successful conclusion to this traumatic experience. G4S Venezuela offers a few important recommendations on what to do in case you are a victim of this abominable crime:

What should the victim do

  • Victims should do all they can to remain calm, serene, quiet and, as far as possible, keep their dignity intact.
  • Don’t try to identify the kidnappers. This could cost you your life.
  • Don’t try to escape.
  • Don’t try to move from the space they’re keeping you without being ordered to do so.
  • Try to collaborate with the perpetrators to avoid excessive aggressions and come out as good as possible. Don’t talk more than necessary.
  • Don’t give out privileged information about your personal or family funds; assuming what the kidnappers think is real.
  • Provide conventional land lines for communication, and the mobile numbers of one person (previously designated for crisis control) only in extreme cases, thus avoiding dispersion of communication.
  • Try to mentally register as much information, details and references as you can during captivity without letting your kidnappers notice your interest.
  • Kidnaping victims should never think their relatives aren’t doing anything to rescue them or trying to pay the ransom; on the contrary, they’re doing everything in their power to try and rescue their family as soon as possible.

Children and teenager kidnappings increased in 2013

secuestro jovenesA significant increase in the number of children and teenager kidnappings has been reported throughout the nation, especially in the Capital District and the Miranda State since the first week of November 2013.

According to unofficial CICPC numbers, between November 1 and November 9 there were reports of 9 kidnappings of minors. The cases were reported in Cojedes (1), Capital District (2), Miranda (3), Nueva Esparta (1), Aragua (1) and Trujillo (1). Before these cases, March was the month with the highest number of underage kidnapping reports with a total of 6.

In 2012, out of the total number of people kidnapped, 11.5% were under 18 years old. In 2013, that portion increased to 12.8%. One of the factors affecting this increase is the excessive exposure of teenagers at times and places of known kidnapping incidence.

Out of the 44 minors kidnapped in 2013, 19 (43.1%) are between 11 and 15 years old. The abductions have occurred around their homes or as they were going to practice sports or carry out academic activities. In 9 cases, the victims are under 10 years old. They are rarely the target of criminals. In some cases, these minors have been kidnapped as they were in the same vehicle as their guardians.

309 kidnappings between January and October of 2013, according to CICPC

conasgnb2309 kidnappings involving 341 victims were reported between January 1 and October 31 of 2013 at the different subdivisions of the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Corps (CICPC) throughout the country, for an average of one case per day.

Most reports occurred in the Capital District, 113, equivalent to 33% of all cases. Miranda was second with 71 kidnappings reported, that is 22.9% of all cases.

Although these numbers do not include kidnappings reported before the National Guard’s National Anti-extortion and Kidnapping Commando (CONAS), the cases received by CICPC in 2013 could be smaller than the year 2012, when they registered at least 562 kidnaping reports.

However, it is important to know not all cases are reported to the authorities.

According to the scientific police’s statistics, of the 341 people kidnapped in Venezuela between January and October, five remained captive and 17 passed away while kidnapped. So far this year, the states of Amazonas, Delta Amacuro, Trujillo and Vargas are the only ones where there haven’t been any kidnapping reports.

7 security mistakes most commonly committed on Facebook

Facebook perforadoFacebook is a public virtual place many people find entertaining, but a simple mistake or imprudence could become the cause of many problems, and not precisely virtual… but quite real.

For that reason, over the last few years experts have insisted in a series of recommendations to safeguard the privacy of the users and their families in a network with more than 700 million people.

If you’re one of those people who visit their Facebook profile every day, then you should check and make sure you’re not making one of the 7 security mistakes most commonly committed in this social network, summarized by AllFacebook.com:

  1. Don’t disclose your date of birth

According to financial experts, your year of birth is an excellent starting point for identity theft, as from your birth date it is possible to deduct user preferences and passwords.

It is recommended only to disclose your day and month of birth, not the year.

  1. Don’t announce you’ll be out of town

Nothing is better for a real world criminal than knowing when your home will be empty. After all, no one would put up a sign on the door stating “Left town for 2 weeks.”

  1. Avoid using obvious passwords

Kid and pet names, birthdays, addresses or favorite football teams are some of the worse security bars you can set between a stranger and your profile information.

It is best to use a strong password containing 8 or more characters mixing numbers and upper/lower case letters.

  1. Don’t underestimate privacy settings

It makes no difference to demand more and better privacy options from Facebook administrators if most users have never even checked them.

Currently, this social network allows users to determine who they would like to share not only posts but also personal information and pictures with, as who you can communicate with.

No one should use Facebook before having checked the menu’s Account —–> Privacy Settings.

  1. Think before you post

It is very dangerous to use social networks when you’re angry or without first thinking what you’re going to post. Also, before sharing personal issues or involving other people, it is best to think twice whether it’s worth sharing such information or what the consequences might be.

In fact, a study carried out by the firm Proof Point proved that at least 8% of companies have fired someone for “inappropriate use of social networks.”

It is frequent hearing about cases in which reckless posting generated legal problems or even put someone in jail.

Our advice: if you’re upset over something, take a minute and think whether you should post about it. If it concerns your work, think about the kind of post that could bring you trouble.

  1. Use private messaging

Many reflections, thoughts and other things can be shared with all your Facebook contacts, including those you barely even know. However, when it comes to intimate situations or invitations, you should use the private messaging option.

  1. Avoid posting information about your children under 13

Many people share sensitive information about their small children, their names, the school they attend and places they frequently visit.

Facebook is home to all kinds of people and you can never be really sure that whoever’s accessing your family’s information will not use it for their own advantage.

It’s not about getting paranoid, but if we’re always telling our kids to be careful with information, we should lead by example.

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”.