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Kidnap & ransom.

The crime of kidnapping can be a risk manager's nightmare. But risk managers will be even more horrified to learn that, ironically, the perpetrators are often those who are employed to serve and protect us. There have been kidnapping instances involving the police in Rio de Janeiro and the army in Guyana. In lesser developed countries, police have been known to intercept ransom drop-offs. Even here in the United States, we find that the alleged kidnapper of Exxon executive Sidney Reso was a former security guard for that company.

Another alarming trend that is on the rise around the world is professional kidnapping solely for economic gain, as opposed to the religious or politically motivated forms. And don't expect this form of kidnapping to abate any time soon, warns Robert H. Dwyer, a Tampa-based crisis management consultant.

If Mr. Dwyer's expectations are realized, what can the risk manager advise a company's employees to do to prevent such an event from occurring? Several basic precautions an employee and his or her family can take include removing names from mailboxes and from any telephone listings. Also, dress down when travelling in and out of the country so as not to appear as a potential target to spotters at the airport.

Given that 90 percent of kidnappings occur when the victim is alone in a house or a car on the way to work, Mr. Dwyer advises "frequently changing one's commuting pattern. Also, be alert to new activity in the neighborhood," such as workers near your home who appear not to be making much progress over a long time period.

In the unfortunate event of a kidnapping, Mr. Dwyer suggests having an already established crisis team, including a negotiator, an attorney and a public relations staffer, to act in a quick and coordinated fashion. Otherwise, "top management tends to micromanage a kidnapping situation and often will bog down the negotiating process," Mr. Dwyer adds. Furthermore, if a negotiating team has been established and given authorization to act, insurance companies are likely to reduce a company's premium.

It is important to understand the legalities involved in kidnap and ransom. For example, kidnapped employees have sometimes sued the company for additional pain and suffering resulting from the company's attempts to lower the ransom. However, most judges will throw out this suit if the company can show that it acted in good faith to get the victim released. Also, be advised that some public corporations are legally precluded from paying a ransom.

A person who has been kidnapped has to fight the temptation to negotiate his or her own release so as not to discredit anything that the police or negotiating team may have stated to the kidnappers earlier. Once a person has been kidnapped, Mr. Dwyer believes that the negotiator should stretch out the process" and not give in on the first demand. Proof that the victim is still alive should also be demanded frequently. This also helps to ascertain that the person(s) one is negotiating with is the real kidnapper and not just an opportunist.
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Title Annotation:Joint Florida RIMS Coverage; risk management techniques
Author:Kurland, Orin M.
Publication:Risk Management
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Words:512
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