Despite the efforts of the security forces, the level of crime has continued to rise in Jamaica. Though there has been data on the various types of crimes in Jamaica, kidnapping is a growing trend and has been the most under reported of all the crimes.
According to the OSAC, the data that is collected is based on partial crime statistics which can only produce best-guess estimates. Even so, there is no doubt that kidnapping is a growing concern and a nationwide issue.
Different types of Kidnapping
The OSAC further described different types of kidnapping that have been operating on the island. Unbeknownst to many, kidnapping is executed by a wide range of players with varied levels of professionalism and motives. For the more sophisticated kidnappings, there are high-end kidnapping gangs that target high-profile or the wealthy individuals. These groups employ teams of operatives who have specified tasks such as collecting intelligence on the victim, conducting surveillance, snatching the target, negotiating with the victim’s family and establishing and guarding safe-houses. The other set of kidnappers are less professional, and will hold their victims for a short time. Namely long enough to go to an ATM and drain their checking account or receive a small ransom.
This is known as opportunistic kidnapping or “express kidnapping” where victims are held in car trunks for a few hours but could last for a couple of days. There is the rare possibility that the kidnapping could be botched causing the victim to escape unscathed but it really is not practical. It is better to spot the kidnappers first and avoid the trap. Another growing scam happening on the island is the telephonic kidnapping (virtual kidnapping phone calls). Although the phone calls may vary in style the method is the same. The virtual kidnapping includes a crying/pleading voice immediately after the call is answered and before the “kidnapper” gets on the phone. This is done with hopes to confuse the victim to get them to give away pertinent information. ( Eg if the cries sound like that of a child, the parent or guardian may call out the child’s name and the kidnapper will use that knowledge against them.) . Because the cries are usually hysterical it makes it difficult to identity and increase the likelihood that it is your loved one. The criminals will try to use fear, tact and timing against you. All calls demand money for the release of your loved one and stipulate no police involvement.
They will give statements to let you think you are under surveillance such as “we saw you at the school with your vehicle”. Don’t be afraid to challenge, ask what is the child’s name, tell the kidnapper to ask the child something only known to the family. Stay Calm. In the event the call is real, or you are unable to find your loved one. Keep the “kidnappers” on the line as long as possible. Let someone else contact the police as soon as possible.
Take notes of the demander’s, tone of voice, accent (in case it is a deportee), background noise. Ask to call them back or when will they call back. Some important things to do is to keep tabs on your family, know where they will be and encourage them to make contact when they arrive or leave a destination. Ensure good communication with your family members. Therefore should an incident occur, the authorities will have an idea of their last location.
Protecting yourself and your loved ones
Simple proactive measures need to take place in order to protect yourself and your family members. Look out for yourself and look out for your neighbor. Be aware that kidnapping is not a “man” thing. Many women are a part of the kidnapping team. Some play an active role, some are distractions and decoys.
• Situational awareness • Surveillance recognition- determine if you are being watched. If a person/persons or vehicle make you uncomfortable.
• Vary routine (don’t travel the same way to school or work every day)
• Always be aware of your surroundings. Make an alarm when you see strange vehicles in your neighborhood.
• Always look around when entering or exiting your vehicle
• Never leave kids in your car alone
• Do not accept rides from people you don’t know. (nuh boom drive)
• Teach your children about Stranger Danger. Don’t talk to strangers
• Check in with someone when you get to your destination so location is always known
• Keep vehicles locked at all times.
• Go with your gut feeling.
Reference -United States Department of State OSAC . Jamaica 2013 Crime and Safety Report.. (2013). OSAC – bureau of diplomatic security. Accessed on February 26, 2014
© Copyright 2014 Dianne Small-Jordan, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Jamaican Blogs™
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