Tiger kidnapping risks

17 August 2016

The security risk environment is evolving rapidly and criminals are employing more sophisticated tactics to seek financial reward. For those operating in the fine art, jewellery and specie sector, one of the most prevalent threats to your employees is tiger kidnapping.

The fine art, jewellery and specie sector is an appetising industry for tiger kidnappers, as employees have day-to-day access to extremely valuable assets. Perpetrators will view this as an opportunity to exploit your company and in the process will endanger your employees and their families. 

A company’s most valuable assets are undoubtedly its people. Whilst companies operating in this sector handle and trade high-value physical assets which need to be protected, arguably the security of your employees should be the key priority. 

Whether employees are living at home or travelling abroad, crisis incidents can happen anywhere and at any time. Ensuring that you have effective and immediate crisis response procedures in place is paramount.

What is a tiger kidnap?

Tiger kidnapping is a phenomenon that has become more widespread in the last 10 years with incidents taking place all over the world. It differs from the more traditional kidnap for ransom incidents, as the aim is not to extort them directly but to coerce the victim through the threat or use of violence into committing a crime. This type of kidnapping is referred to as tiger kidnapping as offenders usually follow and monitor their victims’ daily routine for at least a couple of weeks before abducting the victim.

Owing to the link with drug trafficking organisations, tiger kidnappers have been known to maintain a presence in port cities such as Antwerp (Belgium), Amsterdam and Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Dublin (Ireland). However, since 2010 Control Risks have also reported cases in Argentina, India, Australia, Mexico and United Kingdom.

Who are the victims of this type of crime?

According to NYA International, a typical case usually involves the kidnapping of a family member or close friend as a means of coercing the victim to grant access to personal funds or valuables. In the past, the victim profile for a tiger kidnap has been employees of a bank or financial institution with frequent, unrestricted access to valuables within the premises. The profile of victims has evolved over the years and now any employee working for a company with a significant profile and perceived wealth may be a target. 

Who are the perpetrators?

Reports show that historically this form of extortion has been carried out by sophisticated criminal groups; however evidence suggests that these incidents are now being carried out by more opportunistic criminals. In order for a tiger kidnapping to be successful, the offenders may need to undertake heavy surveillance of their potential victims for a number of weeks which requires organisation and financial support.

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For more information contact Barry Vickery, Senior Partner, Fine Art, Jewellery & Specie on +44 20 7528 4598 or email barry_vickery@jltgroup.com