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Real-Life Scenarios in EP: Last-Minute Kidnap Prevention

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In the latest edition of real-life scenarios in executive protection, we bring you a worthwhile read on last-minute kidnap prevention, but not how you think of it!

Ivan Ivanovich, an EP expert from Mexico, talks about hostile surveillance, how noticing tiny details makes all the difference, and why early phase recognition is the secret ingredient.

Ivan Ivanovich, Worldwide Security Options

Several years ago, an influential executive contacted us because his daughter had a strange incident. He wanted to hear our opinion about it. First, he started his story like this: “Every Tuesday at 2 pm…”

Naturally, we were on high alert, as every situation related to times and places of routine can be a sign of potentially hostile activities.

So regularly, on Tuesdays around 2 pm, his daughter visits his house. She arrives and honks the horn. The butler opens the garage, and she gets in. But that day, at the moment of her arrival, a big SUV moving at high speed suddenly stopped next to her with an intense noise of brakes screeching.

And that was all. No one gets out of the vehicle. The SUV remains still. Her reaction was to get her car up on the sidewalk and escape.

At that moment, we knew this was the “dry run” — the final phase in hostile preparation. In that phase, the criminals make the conclusive test, the rehearsal. They perform the initial part of the attack but don’t complete it.

A Small White Sedan: Kidnap Prevention

The main aim is to see the victim’s reactions so they can prepare all the necessary logistics and refine their plan. They also condition the victim to act in a specific way. In risky situations, we tend to repeat past actions that were successful for us. So, this is a weird kind of training for the victim to be kidnapped.

Also, they can use a “dry run” to choose between different options for the attack so they can confirm or discard some of them. After performing a “dry run,” they generally wait for a couple of weeks or even months. Meanwhile, the victim forgets the apparently benign incident and returns to a routine. Then they attack with all necessary resources and actions to frustrate previously seen victims’ reactions.

It is essential to point out that this phase of preparation for the attack is not used by criminals every time. Whether they will use it can depend on many factors according to their needs and specific situations. That is why it is imperative to be able to identify this phase and act immediately.

We knew the attack on our new client was imminent, so we had to act quickly. Therefore, we immediately started with counter-surveillance (together with other measures that we will not discuss in this article).

We identified all the vehicles around the client’s frequently visited places, and all were OK. That is, except for a small white sedan, ubiquitous in the area, that had a police jacket hanging around the driver’s seat. Each neighbor had a different assumption about that vehicle — and not a single one was true.

Then we checked the vehicle’s plates, and it was involved in two investigation processes for kidnapping. We immediately contacted Mexico City authorities, and they acted quickly and professionally. As a result, the criminal group was identified and disbanded. This is the end of our kidnap prevention account… except there is more!

The Story Behind the Story

It all started with a handsome spinning instructor working in a high-class sports club. He was gathering information from the affluent ladies who were flirting with him, passing that information to the rest of the criminal group, who then

  • made the selection of the possible victims,
  • started hostile surveillance,
  • did the dry run, and
  • conducted the final strike.

Fortunately, we managed to cut this attack off during the preparation.

The members of the criminal band later confessed that during the observation of our client, they were able to identify the movements and routine of another person who was living on that street. So, after performing the first kidnapping, they already had their next victim ready.

Luckily, neither of these crimes happened, thanks to our team’s and the police’s coordinated action. Also, the fact that the criminals were negligent or just ignorant and used the compromised vehicle for hostile surveillance made things much easier for us.

At the beginning of this article, many readers might have thought that this text would be about shooting and vehicle crushing, as the title refers to last-moment kidnap prevention.

But the moment of reaction is not the last — this is already too late. The only way of performing effective executive protection is to cut the attack off in the process of preparation. The rest is gambling with our lives and the lives of the protectees.

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