4 Steps Security Can Take to Prevent Kidnapping
Think kidnapping is not a risk for your organization? Think again. Kidnapping and hostage expert Chris Falkenberg tells us why the threat is real, and what you can do to minimize the risk
By Joan Goodchild , Senior Editor
April 08, 2009 — CSO —
As the economic crisis continues to heat up, Chris Falkenberg believes the potential for kidnapping will, too.
"The biggest risk for kidnapping of adults is among people in the financial services business," said Falkenberg, president of Insite Security, a New York-based consultancy that offers security services and analysis. "Particularly those who have a great deal of publicity about their wealth and their business success." (Learn tips for what to do if you are abducted in 'How to Act if You're Kidnapped')
Kidnappers are motivated by money, and potential victims are the people who make the most, said Falkenberg, who noted that executive compensation is easier than ever find thanks to SEC disclosure rules (Read 'Six Things You Need to Know About Executive Protection').
Assessing an organization's risk for a potential executive or staff abduction involves several factors. While executives may be more at risk in the United States, in many other countries, all employees face danger, especially if the country is impoverished (Read 'Employee Safety in Global Hotspots').
Falkenberg, a former Special Agent in the U.S. Secret Service, outlines preventative measures companies can consider to minimize kidnapping risk.
Establish a counter-surveillance program
Every kidnapping is preceded by a planning stage, according to Falkenberg. An organization with an effective counter-surveillance program has good shot at intervening or detecting a threat, increasing security and motivating potential kidnappers to go elsewhere.
Counter surveillance, according to Falkenberg, basically takes the regular security guard position and "turns it inside out." In addition to having personnel manning the gate, a counter-surveillance program has personnel who are watching to see who is watching others.
A good program could include a team that conducts surveillance at a facility, residence, or any given location, and keeps tabs on who is watching the target. This means looking for people who might be walking back in forth frequently in front of a location, taking video or photographs, counting footsteps to determine the measurements of a given location.
"Anything someone is doing from a public area to gain information which could be used in a crime and detecting who is doing that," said Falkenberg to describe the kind of intelligence that should be gathered.
A counter-surveillance program might also use CCTV infrastructure in a proactive way, he said.
"CCTV is primarily utilized in the forensic capacity, once a crime has occurred," said Falkenberg. "But a counter-surveillance team can use all of the intelligent video in a proactive means, particularly if you have the ability to identify cars and license plates to keep an eye out for who seems to be in your perimeter, collecting information about scheduling, comings and goings, and transportation routes."