Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Yes, Kidnapping Can Happen to YOU

If you think that kidnapping for profit only occurs in some far off land and it only happens to millionaires -- sorry, but I have to burst your bubble.

Katherin D. Jubran is a 63-year-old woman who was taking her daily walk in her neighborhood in Yakima, Washington. We're talking small town U.S.A. here, not Bogota, Columbia.

Two armed Spanish-speaking men confronted her at gunpoint, forced her into their car, stole her wedding ring, and held her for several hours as they attempted to contact Jubran's husband to negotiate a ransom payment.

She was released unharmed after the plot unraveled because the suspects' car broke down.

The two arrested suspects were identified as 24-year-old Heriberto Garibaldo Martinez and 23-year-old Pedro Ochoa-Mendoza.

Authorities contend that the same two suspects attempted to kidnap a female who was jogging about 45 minutes before they kidnapped Jubran.

These women are everyday people in a medium-sized city in the Pacific Northwest, not along the border, not involved in the drug trade, not involved in any sort of organized crime. People just like me and you.

A couple of points to bring up:

-- As a normal U.S. citizen, you appear rich to some people, particularly foreign nationals.

-- The kidnapping for profit trade has a long tradition in many countries. This tradition is apparently migrating to the U.S. along with the immigrants.

-- As a potential target, you do not know what someone's motivation is when they point a gun at you and tell you to get into the car.

-- You cannot allow yourself to be taken elsewhere. Cops call it the secondary crime scene and usually you will not be returning from it -- ever. You need to put as much distance between you and the gunman as possible. Run away from the car and toward more people -- even though you are fearful of being shot. Don't run to a secluded area. If the suspect grabs you and tries to pull you into the car, drop to the ground to break his grip and then get up and escape. If he is out of the car and tries to grab you, again, drop to the ground with your head away from him and your feet towards him. Kick at the attacker's legs. Scream "NO! GET AWAY FROM ME!" to attract attention. Brace yourself against the car. Do not let yourself be taken.

-- The suspects were caught because the neighborhood watch concept works in Yakima. An alert neighbor took a photo of the car two days earlier because it appeared suspicious. For the same reason, a contractor in the neighborhood also took down the license plate number.

It's fortunate that the victim in this case survived unharmed. It's probable that you or I will not be so lucky if it happens to us.


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