The recent kidnapping cases that hit Trinidad & Tobago have caused great alarm among the population.
There are people that are afraid to go out because they don’t know who might be watching them or what is worse, who to trust.
Most of the time when people think about kidnapping, they think about kidnapping for ransom and particularly targeted towards the wealthy citizens in the country.
The reality is that you don’t have to be rich to be kidnapped neither all cases of kidnapping are for ransom. A lot of cases we hear in the news of missing individuals are actually people who have been kidnapped for human trafficking purposes.
It is imperative for ALL of us to be aware and not let fear control our behaviour. Why? Simply because if we are faced with a situation where we have to act (or not), we need to ensure all our emotions are in check so we could make the right choices and don’t jeopardise our own safety.
Let’s talk about some tips on how to avoid being abducted/kidnapped:
SWITCH UP YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
Criminals do not plan kidnappings from one day to the next. They study their victims for weeks or even months. Most of the time, they are successful in their planning because people usually maintain the same routine, so they know where you will be, at what time and what you will be doing. Scary, we know. It makes their planning and execution of the crime very easily.
In order to throw them off completely, you need to change your daily routine. We know that during the week it seems hard because most of us want to avoid the absurd traffic situation in Trinidad, therefore we tend to leave around the same time.
However, it is very important that you do not do it every single day. Just unexpectedly, leave earlier or later and try a different route than the one you’re used to. Remember, criminals seek easy targets and if your routine gets too complicated, their “job” gets harder too.
DO NOT PARK IN LONELY SPOTS
Be aware that if you’re driving alone, you want to park your car in a spot where you see the most lights, where you see the most people as well as more access to security cameras in the place you’re visiting. Kidnappers do not like security cameras. You should avoid lonely spots at all costs.
Make sure your car doors are locked at all times and do not open the door to anyone who might look suspicious, no matter the gender or age. Trust your gut!
Leave your car immediately without taking too long checking for purse or other items. Have everything ready and handy. When returning to your car, check if anyone is following you and get inside your car quickly and lock the doors right away.
DEVELOP YOUR SENSE OF OBSERVATION
Being observant is one of those rare qualities out there but a vital one to have these days, particularly in kidnapping related situations. It is a sense that can be develop with practice and time.
When you go out, try to be aware at all times of the people who are around you (in front, on your side and behind). Do not be afraid to look around and make others aware that you’re noticing them.
Be vigilant. Avoid listening to music with earphones or doing anything that can impair your attention while in public. Remember it takes only a few seconds for criminals to strike.
If someone is stalking you or looking at you with bad intentions, do not be afraid to make FIRM eye contact. Kidnappers do not like their victims to recognise them. They want to commit their crime quickly and efficiently. When you choose to make eye contact, you are telling the criminal: “I can see YOU”.
STAY AWAY FROM YOUR PHONE
Phones are great but they can become dangerous tools as well. We see people driving and texting and using their phones everywhere they go. Sometimes they use it while walking in the street or when returning to their car. It becomes a very expensive distraction with a high price to pay at the end if criminals attack.
Put your phone away while you’re walking, you need all your senses fully aware while in public.
It takes only a few seconds for a criminal to abduct someone. Remember, it is the surprise effect that will make their act successful. If you’re on your phone, you will have no time to defend yourself or shout for help.
LET OTHERS KNOW WHERE YOU ARE
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, make sure to tell a friend or relative where you will be and with whom. Even though it might be personal, your safety is paramount. Make sure to provide them with the name of the person, too if possible. Avoid meeting strangers from social media for friendship or business transactions. If you do so, make sure to take all the necessary precautions such as not going alone and meeting them in a very public space.
SECURE YOUR OWN HOME
Kidnappers don’t always get their victims off the streets. They can sometimes do it right in your own home. A lot of kidnapping cases are actually inside jobs or acquaintances the family knows.
Be very careful who you allow to come into your home or who you hire to do jobs. Make sure your house is secure at all times by closing/locking all your doors and gates.
Make sure your windows are burglar-proof. If you’re able, install an alarm system as well as a security camera with a monitoring feature.
KEEP A LOW PROFILE
We live in a country where you have to be discreet about your material possessions and family’s personal information.
Keep a very low profile by not being flashy with your purchases or giving others the impression that you might be wealthy and target for kidnapping. You do not want to stand out in a crowd; you want to be like everyone else. Be very cautious also about the type of information you choose to share with others.
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