How Criminals Plan Kidnapping & Killings – Personal Security Awareness

How Criminals Plan Kidnapping & Killings – Personal Security Awareness

To know how to defend you must know how to attack… Sadly these days most of those in the protection industry are using or selling tactics or techniques that are based on woke theories and over dramatized YouTube skits filmed in safe environments rather than reality. The classics are the self-defense of knife fighting videos staring “Martial Arts Experts” who its clear have ever been in a real fight, apart from I expect being bullied at school… It might be fun to train with such people and watch their videos but on the street bullshit theories and techniques will get you into more trouble rather than get you out of trouble.

If you are being targeted by criminals, even low life street criminal they will e planning how to attack or rob at some basic level.  Think about now if you were going to rob someone on the street, what questions would you ask yourself when looking at a victim? I would say the base questions would be 1. do they have valuables on them 2. will they put up a fight 3. can you escape? This is a basic threat assessment that street criminals do all the time.  Now if your dealing with serious criminals where large amounts of money of assets are at stake expect them to be planning in a lot more detail. Think about if you were putting in a business proposal for a $1 million dollar contact, how much work would you put into it? Expect the criminals to work more because they have the added risk of going to jail or being killed.

How Criminals Plan kidnapping & Killings

I have linked how criminals plan kidnapping and assassination together, because the initial planning for both crimes is the same. Here you will learn the basics of how criminals would plan such crimes; if you understand how the criminals operate it puts you in a better mindset when you’re formulating your personal security plans. For more in-depth information on kidnapping check out my book “Kidnap & Ransom” which is available on Amazon.

If you are working in any of the emerging markets of Africa, Latin America or Eastern Europe, you need to be aware of the threat of kidnapping. The threat of kidnapping can apply to all active investigative journalists, investigators or business people who are exposing corruption or criminal activities. The fact that you are a traveling foreigner in many places is enough to make you a target, as does the fact you are wearing expensive clothing, jewelry or carrying expensive cameras, phones or computers. In some places, if the criminals can make a few hundred dollars off you, they will be happy. Gone are the days when only wealthy and high-profile people were targeted for kidnapping.

Most people might never be faced with the threat of being targeted for assassination, most threat assessments that focus on this are bullshit. In some of the emerging markets assassination is the unofficial way of solving business disputes; assassins are cheaper to hire than lawyers! I tell my clients that I place the threat from blackmail and kidnapping a lot higher than that of assassination. Think about it, if someone is executed what are they useful for? Nothing! They have just been removed from the equation. If someone can be entrapped, blackmailed and manipulated they can provide the criminals with an ongoing source of funds, information or defend and promote their causes or agendas in the media etc. If someone is kidnapped, they are an asset which can be sold for a ransom. You must take all this into consideration when faced with problems in the emerging markets, even if the disputes are over a minor issue.

Now we will talk about the main points of how a criminal group plans a kidnapping or assassination attempt. If a criminal group is looking for sporadic targets of opportunity for an express kidnapping, they would be looking for nearly the same characteristics in their victim as a mugger. The criminals will watch you to see if you look like you are worth kidnapping, listen to which languages you speak to shop keepers or waiters, what is your level of personal security, and can you defend yourself?

The easiest way to assess someone’s personal security is to go up to them and ask them a question, like what’s the time. The criminals will be able to assess from your reaction and body language if you are security aware or not. Always be suspicious of strangers, male or female, who approach and talk to you, even if they seem nice. You must always be aware of your surroundings and watch for anyone following or watching you, if you see the same person several times in different locations start to take precautions and be ready for a problem.

If a criminal group is specifically targeting you for a kidnapping or assassination, they will need to select a time, place and method to carry out their plans. To do so, they will need to build a picture of your routine and lifestyle. They will be looking for a pattern in your daily schedule, so that they can predict when you will be at a certain place, at a certain time so they can then kidnap or assassinate you.

It is difficult for people not to form predictable routines; humans are creatures of habit. The most common places for kidnappings or assassinations to take place are at the victim’s place of business, their residence or when they are in or around their vehicles. Almost every day you will be at least one of these locations- if not all three. The criminals will want to assess your standard of personal security; for instance, are you armed, do you use security personnel and are they competent, does your home have alarms or watch dogs?

The primary way to get this type of information on someone is to put them under surveillance. Methods of surveillance vary and can include getting people to watch and follow the targets or using remote listening devices and cameras in their place of business, home or vehicle. With today’s technology, surveillance techniques can also include hacking a target’s computer and intercepting their e-mails. Think about it: if you were going to a foreign country on an assignment and a criminal intercepted your e-mails for a week or so before you left, they would probably have a very good idea of your whole itinerary.

These days most people have at least one computer and when traveling take a laptop. Think about how many people can access your computer, for example colleagues at the office. If you leave your computer at the office overnight can maintenance, security or cleaning staff get access to it? There have been cases of corporate espionage where private detective companies have placed agents in the cleaning and security staff working at their target’s offices, so they can access the target company’s computers and trash after work hours.

Most people would not consider the threat from a fat and bumbling night shift security guard downloading business data from their PC and copying papers, but you should! When you’re traveling do you leave your laptop in your hotel room and is it password protected? You cannot carry your computers around with you all the time so, one thing to do is to keep minimum information on it, keep all your sensitive information on a thumb drive, which you can always keep on your person. Then if someone accesses your computer or it’s lost or stolen the criminals won’t get any worthwhile information.

Another common way to gain information on someone, a technique which is used by criminal, intelligence and law enforcement agencies alike, is to go through their target’s garbage. These days a lot of people shred sensitive papers to prevent identity theft, but do they shred their grocery store receipts, which have time, date and location on them? For example, if over a three-week period, the criminals were able to find receipts from a local grocery store in your garbage, which show a checkout time between 10 am and 11 am for the past three Saturday mornings, they would have identified a potential routine. On the next Saturday, it would make sense for the criminals to send someone to the grocery store at nine o’clock in the morning to wait and see if you turned up, who accompanied you, where you parked your car and if you are paying attention to the environment. They could also use this opportunity to test your security by getting a young lady to ask you for help carrying her bags to her car.

All sensitive paperwork needs to be destroyed; shredded papers can be put back together, so you need to ensure they are burned. Another method is to soak the papers in water until the ink runs and the paper turns to mush. Criminals will also try to recruit or blackmail your employees, fixers or associates to give them access to your itinerary and information on your assignments. This is why you must ensure that all your people are vetted out, supervised by trusted personnel and all sensitive information is kept on a “need to know” basis. I do not blame the people who are forced by criminals to provide information about their employers. In the emerging markets a lot of times they have little choice but to comply with the criminal’s demands.

The initial approach usually offers the employee cash or favors if they assist the criminals, if they reject the offers then family members will be contacted directly and threatened with violence or sexual assault. What’s the employee to do, go to the police, who in many places fear, or work with the criminals? Consider what you would do if you were working in a volatile Latin American country and you find out that one of your employee’s daughters has been threatened with gang rape if the employee does not give the criminals your travel schedule. This is not a joke, consider what you would do!

If the threat is coming from, say, the target of your investigation, or if you frequently meet personally with new contacts the criminal will just have to arrange a meeting with you at a place suitable for the kidnapping or assassination. Meetings should be considered high risk as people know where you will be at a specific time; we will discuss this more in a later chapter.

When the criminals have identified your routine and have chosen a place to kidnap or assassinate you, they will then have to choose a method. If your threat is from professional criminals, and you do not identify that you are being targeted before the criminal’s strike, chances are you will be successfully kidnapped or assassinated. You must learn to identify and avoid potential problems, forget martial arts and Hollywood fight scenes; if it gets to the stage where you have to fight the chances are you have screwed up somewhere or are somewhere you shouldn’t be. There are usually two outcomes of fights, someone goes to prison and someone goes to a hospital, in a 3rd world country you definitely don’t want to go to prison. If you don’t, there is a very good chance the alternative is landing at the morgue.

Orlando W.

Books on Amazon
Kidnap & Ransom: The Essentials of Kidnapping Prevention

This book will show you the realities of the kidnap and ransom business!
Kindle @
Paper Back @

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