We almost never hear about kidnappings for ransom here in the United States. While we should always be alert when we travel in this country, it is important to be aware of threats we may not think about here at home when we do travel abroad.
The kidnapping and tragic murder of a young man in Mexico who was taken from his wealthy family for ransom made it into the news cycle today. But this type of activity has been going on for a long time in Mexico and other parts of the world, especially the Third World, and is a tragic reminder of this growing problem. (Read the story)
Members of high net worth families living in these regions are not the only ones targeted. The incidence of kidnap for ransom of executives, especially those working for large corporations, is also of great concern.
Kidnapping is not the only crime that international travelers need to be aware of. Carjacking, home invasion and takeover robberies of places of business to include tourist destinations is not uncommon as is the use of date rape or “predatory” drugs for the purposes of robbery. The take over of tour buses and subsequent robbery of its passengers , not much unlike the stage coach robberies of the Old West, is also occurring more frequently.
Those visiting South Africa need to be aware of an alarming increase in the use of explosives to blow open ATM machines, a crime enabled by the easy access to explosives from the large mining industry. (Read an article on the incidence of ATM crime in South Africa)
Being watched upon arrival at an airport and then shadowed to a hotel and robbed at a later time also can and does occur. Unsuspecting tourist have often been abducted when they enter a vehicle at an airport that they assumed was a vetted taxi or transportation service.
As with any area of personal safety, knowledge is always key to forming sound strategies for the avoidance of crime. The State Department website has a country specific information page that includes travel warnings. The State Department also recommends using their Travel Registration service especially for those traveling to higher risk destinations.
We offer a travel safety class for those traveling within the United States, internationally and to higher risk destinations.
The post 9/11 world is more complex and poses more challenges to the international traveler.
Having a sound strategy from pre trip planning, and documentation to in country emergency contacts and contingency plans always makes for a safer and more enjoyable experience.