How criminals operate



You need to be aware of how criminals and terrorists operate and what they look for in their victims; if you know this, you can hopefully avoid becoming a victim yourself. Criminals and terrorists are generally business people; they commit crimes to make money or achieve a goal- some are good at it and some are not. At all levels of the crime business, criminals, to some degree, plan and organize the jobs, whether it is stealing someone’s watch or assassinating someone.

In this section we will refer to the bad guys as criminals and will not differentiate between criminals and terrorist, they are the same. You must remember that terrorists largely fund their terror campaigns from the proceeds of crime be it street crime, providing protection for criminal groups, smuggling drugs/people, protection rackets, kidnapping etc. Be assured there is nothing listed here that criminals don’t already know.

We have linked kidnapping and assassination together, because the initial planning for both of these crimes is the same. We will talk more about kidnappings in a later chapter; here you will learn how criminal would plan such crimes.

If you are working in any of the emerging markets of Latin America or Eastern Europe, you need to be aware of the threat of kidnapping. The fact that you are a foreigner is enough to make you a target, as does the fact you are wearing expensive clothing and jewelry. In some places, if the criminals can make a few hundred dollars off you, they will be happy. The days are gone when only wealthy and high profile people were targeted for kidnapping.

Most people should never be faced with the threat of being targeted for assassination. In some of the emerging markets assassination is an unofficial way of solving business disputes- remembers assassins are sometimes cheaper than lawyers! You must take this into consideration when faced with business problems in the emerging markets, even if the disputes are over a minor amount of funds or assets.

Now we will detail the main points of how a criminal group plans a kidnapping or assassination. If a criminal group is looking for sporadic targets of opportunity for kidnapping, they would have been looking for nearly the same characteristics in their victim as a mugger.  For example, do you look like you are worth kidnapping? Which languages have you been speaking to shop keepers or waiters?  What is your level of personal security, and can you defend yourself?  They may approach you and ask you for the time to see how you react and what see language you speak. You must always be aware of your surroundings and watch for anyone following or watching you.

If a criminal group is specifically targeting you for a kidnapping or assassination, they will need to select a time, place and method to carry out their plans. To do so, they will need to build a picture of your routine and lifestyle and, therefore, will be looking for a pattern in your daily schedule, so that they can predict when you will be at a certain place, at a certain time, when they can kidnap or assassinate you.

It is difficult for people not to form predictable routines. The most common places of kidnappings or assassinations is at the victim’s places of business, homes or their vehicles. Almost every day you will be at least one of these locations- if not all. The criminals will want to assess your standard of personal security; for instance, are you armed? Do you use security personnel?  If so, are the security personnel any good? Does your home have alarms or watch dogs?

The primary way to get this type of information on someone is to put them under surveillance.  Methods of surveillance vary and can include getting people to watch and follow the targets or using remote listening devices and cameras in their place of business, home or vehicle. With today’s technology, surveillance techniques can also include hacking a target’s computer and intercepting their e-mails. Think about it:  if you were going to a foreign country on business and a criminal intercepted your e-mails for a week or so before you left, they would probably have a very good idea of your whole itinerary.

A common way to gain information on someone, a technique which is used by most intelligence and law enforcement agencies, is to go through his or her garbage. For example, if over three weeks, the criminals were able to find receipts from a local grocery store in your garbage, which show a checkout time between 10 am and 11 am for the past three Saturday mornings, they would have identified a potential routine. On the next Saturday, it would make sense to send someone to the grocery store at nine o’clock in the morning to wait and see if the target turned up, who they were with, and where they parked their car, were they paying attention to their environment.  They could also use this opportunity to observe what was the security like inside the store and the parking lot.

Another method criminals use is to recruit or blackmail one of your employees is giving them your itinerary- that’s why you must ensure that all your employees are vetted out and supervised by trusted personnel. If the threat is coming from, say, a known business rival, or if you frequently meet personally with new clients, the criminal will just have to arrange a meeting with you at a place suitable for the kidnapping to assassination.

When the criminals have identified a routine and have chosen a place to kidnap or assassinate you, they will then have to choose a method.  If your threat is from professional criminals, and you do not identify that you are being targeted before they strike, the chances are you will be successfully kidnapped or assassinated.