Kidnapping facts

1. The number of reported kidnappings ranges between 12,500 and 25,500 a year, and it is estimated that only one-tenth of all kidnappings are reported. Nor do these numbers include the Chechen children sold back to their families by Russian soldiers.

2. London alone collects $130 million a year in premiums for kidnapping insurance, here is a link to one company, the visual introduction to this link is very effective.

3. About 90 percent of all kidnappings take place in the ten riskiest countries (the link also has tips on kidnapping etiquette), with Colombia a clear leader, reporting 10 kidnappings a day, more than half of the total. The police in Colombia admit that 1500 kidnapped hostages are held currently, the true number is likely much higher. Kidnapping is estimated to be a $200 million tax-free business in Colombia.

4. Kidnappers in the Philippines perhaps have read Thomas Schelling on credible precommitment. They now demand the names of two other likely victims and an estimate of their net worth, before releasing kidnapped children from wealthy families.

5. If you wish to buy one million dollars worth of kidnapping insurance for Colombia, it costs about $20,000 to $25,000 a year. Many people and companies buy much larger policies than this. Many kidnappers consider a ransom of less than a million to be a joke.

6. In Colombia a mere three percent of (reported) kidnappers are prosecuted; in the United States it is 95 percent.

7. The fatality rate on security-consultant-handled kidnappings is about 2 percent. You are most likely to die if they try to rescue you. You are most likely to win a safe release when kidnapping is done in conjunction with the police. Your time in captivity is likely longest when your kidnappers are Marxist revolutionaries.

From Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places. I have been to only four of the place he lists (Bosnia, Russia, U.S., and Yemen), noting that it would be five, but he doesn’t even bother to put Haiti in the current edition, it might be too dangerous for inclusion, it certainly has not become safer. Given that Mexico is number two on the kidnapping list, it represents an odd omission as well.


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