Kidnapping resurgence in Venezuela

Protestors and blockades give way to express kidnappers in Caracas.

According to recent press reports, express kidnapping resurged in Caracas during November and December 2017. Earlier in the year, the number of express kidnappings dropped, largely due to anti-government protests taking place on Caracas’ streets. The presence of protestors, blockades and police made it difficult for kidnappers to operate. As the protests waned, kidnappers were able to move about the city more freely and once again ply their trade – allegedly kidnapping upwards of 80 people in a matter of a few weeks.

Kidnappers pose as policemen

According to local crime experts, some kidnappers set up false traffic control points, posing as policemen. They stopped vehicles and forced their occupants out, taking them away in another car to collect a ransom. Others were stopped while on less-transited roads or highway exit ramps, forced out of their vehicles, and taken to collect a ransom. 

It appears the victims are being targeted while driving nicer, newer vehicles, which implies their ability to pay a substantial ransom. Once kidnapped, the victims are interrogated, their belongings gone through, all in the search for clues to their wealth and who should be contacted to demand a ransom. Ransom demands are made in US dollars and prompt payment is required. Upon receiving the payment, the kidnappers typically release the victim unharmed. 

Commenting on the kidnapping trend, Elman Myers, Managing Director for Hiscox Special Risks Miami, advises: “This recent resurgence of express kidnapping underscores the importance of maintaining a low profile. Avoid driving a newer, more expensive vehicle and avoid wearing nice watches or jewellery while in traffic. Traveling in a group or with other cars is also a helpful strategy to reduce vulnerability to express kidnapping.”