‘Express kidnapping’ on the rise in South and Central America

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Express kidnapping is on the rise in South and Central America, according to red24’s Threat Forecast 2013.This form of crime generally involves people being abducted, robbed and then forced to withdraw money from a cash point or hand over their PIN details.

Express kidnappings increased by more than 60 per cent in 2012 in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, compared to 2011, as indicated by the Threat Forecast 2013.

A total of 349 express kidnappings were reported in the city of Guayaquil between January and August 2012, and the crime became more prevalent in Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela and Brazil during the year.

Rio de Janeiro

The abduction usually lasts for a few hours, but can extend over a period of several days. Express kidnapping can require less planning than traditional kidnap for ransom and extortion (KRE) and can be more opportunistic in nature. Express kidnappers, who are usually local or organised criminal groups, tend to target both locals and resident foreign nationals, as well as tourists.

The increase in express kidnapping is predominantly attributed to economic uncertainty and financial desperation. South America experienced a high number of KRE incidents in 2012 and this is expected to continue in 2013. Mexico was also a particular hotspot with an estimated 3,000 incidents in the first three quarters of 2012.

The main perpetrators of this type of kidnapping across South America are organised crime groups. Victims tend to be locals from an increasingly diverse range of economic backgrounds; however, tourists are also affected by KRE.

Jack Cloonan, head of special risks at red24, said: “Our annual Threat Forecast report shows a considerable increase in express kidnapping in South and Central America as well as a persistently high rate of traditional kidnap for ransom and extortion crime in places such as Mexico.”

He further stated: “Although many express kidnapping incidents tend to involve locals and resident foreign nationals, tourists are also at risk. Being extra vigilant and aware of what is going on around you and only using ATMs in secure public places are some of the ways in which you can avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime.”

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