One of the most famous kidnapping cases of all time is the kidnapping of Lieutenant General James Dozier from his residence in Vicenza Italy in 1982. Some of you reading this will remember the case, but many readers will not. Some will say that was 1982, how is that relevant now? My answer to you is that this case is extremely relevant to anyone who travels, lives overseas, or is of high net worth. The point is, if a general can be kidnapped from his home in Italy, it can happen to you.
Bad Guy Surveillance;
My intent right now is not to pick on the Doziers, because they are some truly remarkable Americans and I have great respect for them. I want to point out some lessons learned which started with completely missing the fact that the Doziers were under surveillance for several weeks until after the kidnapping. Mrs. Dozier recalled after the fact that she had seen the same woman pushing a baby carriage around her neighborhood daily for lengthy periods of time. She later saw the same woman and one of the kidnappers come to their door to ask some questions. As memory serves me, General and Mrs. Dozier had seen everyone involved in the kidnapping multiple times prior to the event.
Have you trained yourself to observe your surroundings every day? Do you know what right looks like, sounds like, smells like, and feels like? Are you aware enough to identify when something just does not seem right or is out of place? What do you do with that information anyway?
Over the course of several weeks, the Red Brigade Cell that kidnapped General Dozier had identified their pattern of life they decided to take action. Several kidnappers dressed as plumbers knocked on the Dozier’s door and stated that there was a plumbing issue with the neighboring apartment and needed to come in and look at the pipes. The Doziers let the kidnappers in without verifying that they were who they said they were and were soon overpowered. The kidnappers used locks and chains to secure Mrs. Dozier to a radiator in the kitchen then restrained General Dozier and stuffed him in a large box. It was several hours before Mrs. Dozier was able to get help, and by that time, the kidnappers had switched vehicles, and were at the location where General Dozier would be held for the next 42 days.
General Dozier’s living conditions were horrific and also noteworthy. He was placed in a tent on a cot in the center of the room. General Dozier was restrained, blindfolded, and had headphones taped on to his head. General Dozier was forced to listen to loud rock music almost the entire time until he convinced his captors to let him listen to classical music. General Dozier’s tent had a light on inside at all times alternating between red, blue, and white light bulbs in a further attempt to disorient him. The Italian National Police Counter Terrorism Force NOC rescued General Dozier after 42 long days, killing most of the kidnappers. The bottom line is that being a a senior official, CEO, or business executive does not make you invulnerable to being targeted or kidnapped.
You do not have to be paranoid to know the baseline of activity around you. You do, however, have to have situational awareness and make it part of your daily routine. Captive Audience PTRT recommends some important practices everyone should follow.
- Get your head out of your App!!! Your phone is great but it ruins your situational awareness. Keep your phone tucked away when you are away from home so that you can observe the world around you.
- Take time every day to recognize what right looks like. What is normal at home in the morning, afternoon, and evening? What is normal at work? What is normal in every setting in which you operate? How do people dress and act? Can you recognize when something seems odd? Is it normal for a woman to push a baby carriage up and down your street for six hours?
- Know which agency to whom to report incidents. If you are home, know the police non-emergency reporting number. If you are overseas, know the reporting number to the Embassy, Consulate, or other approved reporting channel. Do not be afraid to be wrong. If you see something, say something.
- Keep a matrix of vehicles and people you notice (that are not your neighbors) and the times they are around. Had the Doziers done this, they would have identified the surveillance after a few days and reported it.
- If you did not request any service, do not let them in until you are able to verify they are who they say they are. If you are in a hotel, call the front desk. If you are in an apartment, call the manger or the actual plumbing company to verify they were sent. Do not give up your security for anyone.
- Make being observant part of your daily life, it is not being paranoid. It will save your life!
Take one of our Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival Courses when you get a chance. We will train you on these practices and much more.