In a situation resembling a variation on tiger kidnapping, there is news today of a situation in Australia where a woman spent 10 hours with a suspected explosive device strapped to her body in what may have been an attempt to extract a ransom from her wealthy parents.

From the BBC News:

Australian police have freed a young woman after 10 hours of tense efforts to deal with a suspected bomb that was reportedly strapped to her body.
Madeleine Pulver, 18, called police from her home in a wealthy Sydney suburb at 14:30 (04:30 GMT).
The police said the device was “very elaborate, very sophisticated” but would not comment on media reports that it was part of an extortion attempt.

While this is different from a normal tiger kidnapping (i.e., the victim wasnt kidnapped), some of the common factors remain – principally that the woman was apparently targeted because of family wealth and there was an exploitable weakness in the family’s home security systems.

As it is still early in the reporting of this incident, it is not possible to say with any certainty if this was a legitimately explosive device or some kind of bizarre prank but from a risk assessment and security management perspective it demonstrates a valid attack method.

Even if this turns out to be a hoax, now the process is in the public domain it will only be a matter of time before genuine criminal groups attempt something similar. Equally, even if few people will be able to construct explosive devices they can attach to the victim, the fact remains that once the intruder is inside and has access to the victim, they are in control and any remaining security measures must be reactive.

This is one of the myriad of threats which equally affect businesses and individuals as extortion and coercion attempts frequently hit middle to low income groups as well as the wealthy. While we do not advocate unnecessary worry, it is foolish to ignore the risk entirely.

For any business which employs staff, this should be the opportunity for you to review the risks that your employees face. If you are a well known brand, with high value on-site assets and your senior staff’s families are publicly known then it is important that your security team carry out a risk assessment on the possibility that their family could be targeted as a potential weak point. Depending the on cost-risk analysis, it may even be worthwhile providing your high-risk staff with additional security to mitigate against the risk to your business.

For homeowners, especially people with high net worth and/or high value assets, the same principles apply. You need to determine what the public picture of your lifestyle is – for example if you live in a very wealthy suburb with expensive cars parked on the drive, you are likely to be of interest to this type of attacker – and then assess how you can deal with someone breaking in and taking a family member hostage.

Our primary advice is that protection of life has to be the priority. No amount of money can bring someone back from the dead and no asset you own is worth someones life. We would never suggest you carry out any actions that may risk the lives of your family.

However, where you can exercise choice is in how you can deter the attacker in the first place, make it difficult for an attacker to gain access and provide a means to raise a covert alarm. We would also recommend that your home has a “safe room” or similar location you, and your family, can retreat to in the event of an attack rather than encourage the urge to fight back.

Once you have your security measures in place, make sure your family know them and that you do enough walk-through rehearsals so that everyone knows what to do when they are half asleep.

If you want more advice on the practical measures you can take to reduce the risk and impact of “tiger”-style kidnappings or other forms of home invasion, or want to discuss what is the most cost effective security controls you can implement, then get in touch with Halkyn Security Consultants today.