(Excerpts from secrets the Department of State Security shared with only Very Important Persons (VIPs))
The rate of kidnapping has sky-rocketed over the years. The appropriate application of the following security tips would reduce kidnapping to the barest minimum.
Recognize your self-worth, assess the threat level of your environment, and perception of others about you in any given location or where you live. For instance, if you drive a latest brand of car, it would be risky for you to live in a slum where the majority of the people are in abject poverty.
- Be vigilant
Vigilance keeps you at alert when others are not. It entails being conscious of every activity or happening around you and your family. Don’t take any unusual movement or occurrences around you for granted.
- Dress moderately
Dress to avoid being noticed. Do not standout by wearing clothes or jewelry that are either too conspicuous or culturally inappropriate at vulnerable locations as this could draw unnecessary attention to you.
- Be familiar with your locations
Identify buildings, structures of importance and other prominent features, such as police stations and military bases. Have adequate information about your places of interest and work locations.
- Voice concerns about crime
Alert local security agencies of any suspicious activities in your environment for preventive measures but avoid raising false alarm.
- Keep your personal itinerary secret
Do not show your personal itinerary to anyone who does not need to know. Don’t share it on the social media; don’t announce your movements with loud telephone calls; don’t show-off your flight tickets; don’t upload photographs about yourself in developed world on your Facebook profile.
- Change of routine
Avoid routine, identify and use different routes to your home or place of work. Do not take the same route for your daily work-out, eat in the same location; drive or go to work at the same time using the same route on daily basis. Criminals monitor their target victims’ routine activities.
- Avoid revealing personal data on social media
You never can tell who is monitoring you on social media. Be careful not to reveal too much details about yourself or your family on social media. Avoid flaunting new cars, houses, and other luxurious assets on your social media platform. Never reveal addresses and places you frequent on social media. Don’t upload photographs of your children or family members of social media; don’t announce your children’s schools and their locations. Criminals could target them as a way of reaching you.
- Educate your household
Regularly educate and remind your household not to reveal personal and family information to the public or strangers. Educate them on the need to be conscious of their discussion while on phone. They should not open the house gate to strangers.
- Installation of CCTV cameras
This could be done at residences and workplaces. It serves as an important source of information for both security, preventive and investigative measures against crime. Initiate collaborative efforts with neighbours in your area with a view to installing and maintaining CCTV cameras on your street.
- Do not discuss financial issues carelessly in public
Try to avoid phone calls that involve discussing money especially huge sums in public places. When you discuss huge amounts of money in public, you send signals to people around you including kidnappers.
- Know your neighbours
To avoid living close to a potential kidnapper, get acquainted with those living in your immediate environment. Find out details such as their identities, their acquaintances, and job description. Neighbourhood association should be encouraged.
- Keep emergency numbers
It is important to keep emergency contacts like that of security operatives that can promptly respond to distress calls whenever you sense that you are being monitored by strangers or when you notice strange activities around you.
Foreigners coming into the country, especially volatile areas, should seek adequate security advice and necessary protection where applicable to insulate them against kidnappers.
- Always keep your phone with you
Keeping your phone with you at all times is very important as it can be a source of help when there is a threat of kidnapping.
In an unfortunate situation where you are kidnapped, the following tips should be used.
- Try to stay calm
- Decide who to nominate as a point of contact
- Keep track of every information about the incident so you can easily share with family and relevant security operatives.
- Do not provoke the kidnappers. Your life is at stake so try to be sensitive to your environment as the knowledge while being held hostage may be useful later on.
In a situation where your loved ones and family is kidnapped, use the following tips.
- stay calm and remain stable
- make immediate verbal report and follow up with a written report of the incident.
- Cooperate with security officials especially sharing useful information at your disposal.
- Remember the life of your family is at stake; do not use provocative language or abusive language against the kidnappers during negotiation.
- Do not just give details about the case and investigation to anyone, there might be an insider agent.