Someone asked me today what Tiger Kidnapping was. They’d heard the term on the news, knew what kidnapping was but not ‘Tiger kidnapping’. So, here is my attempt to explain tiger kidnapping:

There are two broad groups of kidnap offences.

1. Conventional kidnap involves the taking and protracted holding of a person, against a demand for ransom, usually from the victim’s family or employer.

2. The second type involves the short-term hostage taking of family members of someone who has immediate access to cash or valuables. The captives are frequently held overnight and the aim of the criminals is to frighten their victims to such a degree that they will not contact the Police, even when, as often happens, they have an opportunity to do so.

The second type as described above is what is referred to and known as a ‘Tiger Kidnapping’. Here are a few tips and some simple advice to try to prevent it happening to you but firstly:
Who is a ‘good target’ for Tiger kidnapping?

• A victim who has access to large amounts of cash or valuables
• A victim who can be kidnapped with close family members and held without their absence being reported.
• A victim about whom the Police are not aware has been kidnapped at the time the crime is in progress

If we can remove any of these factors or reduce them to such a degree that the risk for
the criminal(s) outweighs the likely payoff then the crime will most probably not occur.

Practical advice

The advice offered can be divided into 2 distinct areas:

• What a business can do to protect itself and its employees (risk management)
• What vulnerable staff can do to prevent them becoming a victim (personal

Risk Management

Anyone who has access to large amounts of cash or valuables is vulnerable to tiger
kidnapping. The best means of prevention is to reduce the payoff to a level, where the risk to the criminal outweighs the potential consequences. i.e. make it so it isn’t worth the bother!

Businesses should consider: –

• The level of cash or valuables held and reduce these to an absolute minimum
• Sensitive information or material must be strictly limited to those who need to know it in order to do their jobs effectively. No one should have access to sensitive information solely on the basis of position or appointment.
• Ensure that no-one has access to enough cash or valuables to make them an attractive target to criminals and make this fact known
• Take measures to reduce the holdings into smaller, less attractive quantities
• Off-site control for critical locks or access to large quantities of cash or valuables
• Effective use of CCTV systems to monitor vulnerable areas
• Minimising contingencies by encouraging pre-booking, by customers, of the collection of large quantities of cash or valuables
• Educating staff to notice and report anything unusual which may indicate a colleague is acting under duress
• Encouraging staff to report kidnaps in progress and rely on the system and escalation procedures designed to deal with these
• Frequent review and updating of the above procedures

Personal Security

The aim is to prevent criminals having easy access to your home or business premises and to make it difficult for them to kidnap you or your family. If they need to make a lot of noise (e.g. smashing down a door) they will not continue in case the Police have been called.

At Home

• Identify callers before opening the door; if in doubt, don’t open the door
• Use solid doors and good deadlocks.
• Keep windows locked.
• At night, close curtains before turning on lights
• Keep front boundary hedges and fences low to maximise your view
• Keep rear boundaries high to maximise your security and privacy
• Consider replacing these hedges and bushes with thorned bushes and hedgerows to act as an anti personnel barrier / obstruction
• Consider having gravel around the house as the sound of footsteps on gravel will deter intruders
• Keep young children in sight or, if leaving them with someone, ensure that this person is aware that they may be at risk of kidnapping and of any escalation procedure

Lighting – Effective use of lighting can considerably improve your personal safety

• Consider sensor/timer activated lighting
• At night, leave a courtesy light on at your front door
• Always have reserve lights (such as torches or candles) to hand

Key Care

• Keep strict control over your keys
• Do not allow duplicates to be made without your permission
• If a key is lost; fit a new lock
• Never conceal keys outside the premises
• Always be vigilant and report anything suspicious

Travelling – By vehicle.

• Be alert, especially when leaving or entering your home/premises
• Vary your routes and times of journeys
• Travel with company where possible
• Report any suspicious vehicles or people
• If you think you are being followed; contact police immediately and avoid becoming isolated
• Be suspicious of anyone trying to get you to stop or leave your vehicle
• If possible, keep windows closed and doors locked
• When stopping; do not allow yourself to be boxed in, leave enough
• room to manoeuvre an exit
• When parking, do not leave anything in your vehicle that may identify you or your business
• Try to avoid parking anywhere that may become dark or isolated before your return


• Keep to busy, brightly lit areas where possible
• Avoid short cuts across waste ground, deserted parks and unlit alleys
• Be alert to your surroundings

If a kidnap occurs:

If the worst happens and you or a colleague/friend/relative has been kidnapped it takes great courage to report the matter to the Police. The criminals depend on victims being so fearful for their family that they will not report it until some time after the proceeds have been handed over and the criminals have escaped. This means trusting the criminals more
than your colleagues or the Police.

The Police have extensive experience of dealing with serious incidents where lives
may be in danger. If a kidnap in progress is reported or discovered, the priority is
always the safety of the victims and the Police will not undertake operations, which
would be likely to increase the risks of harm or injury to them. There is a tried and
tested system in place for dealing with tiger kidnappings, which has been so
successful in the past that, for a number of years, these crimes did not occur. This
system has been reviewed, improved and updated and you can be sure that the matter
will be dealt with by senior, experienced officers, from the outset.

Remember; the Police will not arrive at the victim’s house with lights and horns blazing or do anything to provoke a hostage situation and because of their resources, experience and authority, they are best suited to bringing the matter to a successful conclusion.

Personal security awareness training is becoming more popular with our clients as a simple and effective way to keep safer in the ever changing world in which we live. When wrongdoers observe potential victims and realise that they are security aware and minimising their risks, they suddenly become far less attractive targets.