Kidnap encounters have five phases: capture, transport, consolidation, holding and termination. The moment of capture has the highest risk for executives. However, it may be the most dangerous time for the intended victim but also the best time for escape. The kidnappers themselves are stressed, nervous and more likely to make mistakes. Executive defense tactics cause a split second of hesitation - the best chance for escape.
During the initial abduction stage, kidnappers will present a devastating show of force to minimize possible resistance. However, in these early stages kidnappers can be thrown off guard if the executive manages (or his bodyguard) to move quickly enough to take advantage of the situation and create an opportunity for escape.
An escape should not be a fight or flight panic reaction. Executives are advised to design, plan and test their escape routes before a situation occurs. An escape is breaking away from kidnappers when surrounded; it's the action you take to get away from kidnappers during their attempt to capture you and take you hostage. The best time for you to escape is right away at the scene of the attempted kidnapping.
The key factor in surviving an attempted abduction is to escape instantly. For any type of kidnap threat, the first five seconds is the critical escape window. At the initial abduction stage, resisting the kidnapper often works to create ways to escape. If the executive observes the threat as it develops and acts immediately, there is a much better chance of escaping. On the other hand, if the executive is caught completely off guard, kidnappers have all the advantages. Once the escape window has closed, kidnappers will be in control.
Do not allow kidnappers to take you from the primary location to a secondary location. Statistically, you have a better chance of escaping immediately than allowing yourself to be taken to a secondary location. In most cases the target will be restrained with handcuffs, blindfolded and drugged with an anesthetic while being transported from a primary to a secondary location for confinement, making escape difficult.
Therefore, escape immediately. If necessary, use your hit-and-run tactics to distract the kidnappers. Your escape method should be to run to a safe haven. Your course of travel can be either preplanned or unplanned in an attempt to depart the scene of an attempted kidnapping. Go to a secure location - anywhere that is illuminated well, has other people around and is safe. A safe haven is a place where you are no longer vulnerable; it could include a crowded shopping mall, local police station, military installation, embassy or consulate, hotel or medical center.
Kidnap gangs often place lookouts in various locations. When escaping, judge all possible routes, and watch for potential kidnapper gang members covering these areas. Upon making a clean escape, try to anticipate the kidnapper's next move to avoid capture. Blend in quietly to the local environment while waiting for police assistance. Additional risks are minimized through awareness and remaining composed.
When making an escape, if you hear shots fired, drop directly to the ground and lie down flat. Make yourself a small target and crawl for cover while keeping flat. The longer you're upright, the higher the probability is you'll be shot from direct fire or ricochet. A critical consideration to assess the possibility of escape when shots are fired is whether or not the kidnappers are approaching your direction and firing their weapons at you. If you are well covered and safe, stay behind cover and wait for assistance to arrive without exposing yourself.
Making a Vehicular Escape
Drive with all doors locked and windows up, and do not drive in cars that draw attention such as expensive foreign models. Tell your driver not to rush to stoplights or stop signs. Keep the vehicle in motion to prevent becoming a stationary target. Remember to be most alert when driving from your hotel and/or office. These two locations are where kidnappings generally occur. If approached by a stranger while in a vehicle, drive off, back up the car, pull a swift U-turn and drive through the situation. Or if there is no other option, ram through the threat.
You may find yourself being pursued by kidnappers when in your vehicle. If your hotel driver or chauffeur keeps composed and plans ahead, kidnappers can be safely eluded. Prolonged high-speed driving for a non-security trained driver can be dangerous; out-running kidnappers is seldom as successful as out-maneuvering and out-thinking them.
This is where pre-planning and studying the roads within miles of your hotel, residence and office comes in to play. The most important element in making a vehicular escape is to know the escape routes beforehand. Simply put, I'm talking about paying a high price in preparation so that you get maximum results in the implementation. You should know the area and its roads better than potential kidnappers, being able to safely navigate the back streets and secondary routes, quickly speeding away and getting out of sight of the kidnappers. Travel the shortest, safest routes to a prearranged safe haven such as a police station or friendly embassy. Keep safe out there and God speed.