Travel Safety EcuadorCulture Shock! Ecuador: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette
September 28, 2009
BEWARE OF KIDNAP EXPRESS IN ECUADOR
EXPRESS KIDNAPPING - SECUESTRO EXPRESS PLAUGES ECUADOR
Criminals continue to develop new ways in which to kidnap their victims. The kidnap express (secuestro express) continues as a substantial threat to the community's safety in Ecuador. All levels of society seem to be at risk including foreigners. Here are five methods currently conducted by the criminal element in carrying out the express kidnapping as well as some things you can do to try to avoid being a victim. Authorities report that this type of crime is on the increase. However, the numbers are probably much higher then what is reported. Numerous victims decide not to report the crime out of embarrassment, feeling that justice will not be served, or in fear of retaliation from the perpetrator's).
FIVE APPROACHES TO TO THE EXPRESS KIDNAPPING
1. One of the most common forms of express kidnapping is intercepting a private vehicle or taxi. There may be one or two vehicles used in conducting the kidnap. Stoplights are probably one of the most vulnerable areas to be kidnapped at. The assailants may use one or two vehicles to conduct the block of the victim's vehicle at which time one or two assailants may exit their vehicles with weapons and take command of the vehicle. They will usually place a passenger in the front seat in the rear seat. Other high rates of incidents while in a vehicle includes during the exit of the vehicle while in a taxi or after parking on the street.
2. In Guayaquil a number of kidnappings have involved the victim being taken to suburb areas to a house. They are often bound and blindfolded. The kidnappers will take the victim's credit cards. A courier then takes the cards to a bank ATM and starts to empty the account. He keeps in contact with the coconspirator via cell phone.
3. Other kidnappers are taking the victims to their home and then empty the house of valuables.
4. Taxi drivers are at increased risk of being kidnapped and robbed. One method used by assailants is leaving a mall with what appears to be bags full of merchandise. However, this is just a ruse to get the driver to feel comfortable about taking the fare and not suspect he is going to be attacked or robbed. The thieves in actuality have nothing in their shopping bags and commit their robbery once inside the vehicle.
5. Drivers of taxis who are assailants themselves have robbed clients with the following method. They will place paper money on the backseat. They have laced the bill with chemicals to disorient the passenger once they have touched the bill. Then will commit the kidnap and robbery.
Currently the most at risk areas in Guayaquil for kidnapping express are: La Atarazana, Kennedy, Alborada, Malecón Simón Bolívar, Urdesa, and San Marino. Don't fall into a false sense of security while at a mall.
TIPS ON AVOIDING A KIDNAPPING
1. Pay attention to the driver and any changes in route that are out of the ordinary. If this happens then tell the driver you want to get out, pay the fare, and change taxis.
2. Be on alert while at stoplights for other vehicles that may have been following you.
3. Better to call for a taxi and not take one off the street. Another method is to get to walk to a hotel or well known restaurant use one of their regular taxis.
4. Keep your windows up and make sure you are not being followed. Be sure to use the side mirrors.
5. Don't make small talk with the taxi driver or provide any personal information.
6. If a taxi driver demands taking a certain route, don't go.
7. Write down the plate number and provide it to a friend or family member. One method is when you are in the vehicle use your cell phone and call someone and provide them the plate number. Even faking this call may deter the driver from trying to kidnap or rob you.
8. Always let someone know where you are going.
9. Don't accept candy or any paper item from a taxi driver (May be laced with a drug). Also, try to have the exact change for your fare so you don't have to get any paper money as change.
10. If you get in a taxi, reopen the door to make sure the child lock has not been put in place.
11. Try to avoid on the street parking. If you do park this way make sure you are looking behind for assailants. Get out of the car immediately and get moving to your destination. Don't give them time to walk up to your vehicle.
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