Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tip of the Day: Ransom Kidnapping is a Manageable Threat If You Use Your Head

In early 2001, I flew from Chicago to Bogotá to conduct a vulnerability assessment of new office space for a multinational company. 

I sat next to an American executive who was flying to San Juan (via Miami). 

He asked me where I was going. When I replied, “Bogotá,” he asked me whether I was aware of the dangers in Bogotá. 

I responded, “Far less dangerous than San Juan if you stay at a luxury hotel and don’t do anything stupid.” 

I told him that I had been traveling to Bogotá, Medellin, and Cali for more than 20 years and had never had a problem. 

He asked me how that was possible if Colombia was “the kidnap capital of the world” (at the time. Abductions in Colombia have really declined due to the formulation of anti-kidnapping squads nationwide and changes to the criminal code).

 My response was the same one that I recommend in my May 2008 book, "Staying Safe Abroad: Traveling, Working and Living in a Post-9/11 World":

1. Be predictably cautious;

2. Avoid "clip-joints" and places that put you at risk;

3. Get back to your hotel by 2200 hours;

4. Always carefully watch when strangers make a drink for you; 

5. NEVER use ATMs and cash machines installed at street-level;

6. Don't be a "creature of habit"; and

7. Anticipate what might happen next; and

8. Always have a back-up plan.

To avoid nations with the highest probability of kidnapping and abduction, please see the below link:


Incidentally, my 2015 update of "Staying Safe Abroad 2015," will be released  in March 2015. To reserve volume copies please go to:


1 comment:

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