It’s the yuletide season and cases of criminal abduction are on the increase as we approach the end of the year.

In the past few months alone, hundreds of Nigerians, from the high to the low, have been kidnapped across the nation.

The menace of kidnapping has become such a threat that many are wondering how not to fall victims.

Opera News sat down with Asstistant Commissioner Of Police Gideon Akinsola Rtd, security and safety expert, has distilled 15 ways to stay off the radar of kidnappers and other criminal elements.

To protect yourself and your family, here are tips on how to prevent kidnapping:

1.   Stop routine movement:

Driving or walking through the same route will make it easy for suspected abductors to gather information about you and can make it easy for them to track you down when they are ready to strike. Find other streets or highways you can use when driving from home to work and back. Kidnappers rely on your routine to track you down and then look for a time when you’re most vulnerable to an attack. Stop being easily predictable.

2.   Don’t discuss your family outside the house:

Whatever issues you have with your family must not be discussed outside your house. This is to maintain safety as it has been reported previously that kidnappers also gather information from those in one’s neighborhood. What happens in the family should stay in the family.

3.   Do proper checks before employing workers:

Before you employ your new housekeeper, driver or any other employee, please do proper background checks about that person. Know the family members and let the person give the name of a guarantor that can stand in for him or her. This should be done because some people who are kidnappers may pretend to be seeking employment with you.

4.   Maintain a moderate lifestyle:

To avoid being kidnapped, you should check your lifestyle. If you have been living loud, try to tone down in moderation by adorning not- too expensive wears that announce you. Looking expensive all the time can make you a target of kidnappers. Keep your head down.

5.   Don’t discuss money publicly:

To avoid being a victim of kidnappers, another area you must check is receiving phone calls that involve discussing money, especially huge sums. When you discuss such amounts of money in public, you send signals to kidnappers that you are rich and can be their victim. Anybody, including your domestic help or co-commuters, may overhear your telephone calls or conversations and arrange for your kidnap.

6.   Know your neighbors:

To avoid living close to a potential kidnapper, get to know that person living close to you well. Find out if the person is living alone or not and the kind of job that person does for a living. Respect people’s privacy but making discreet investigations about who they are and what they do for a living is not a bad idea.

7.   Don’t get too close to a stranger:

People that you do not know, try not to share valuable information with them. That stranger may be a kidnapper in disguise so avoid strictly any stranger that tries to move close to you unnecessarily. At all times, be conscious of what is going on around you and take appropriate actions at any suspicious behaviours from strangers.

8.   Keep emergency numbers:

It is important to keep emergency numbers like numbers of the Police that you can quickly call whenever you sense kidnappers are monitoring you or you notice anything strange in your environment. #767 is a toll-free number incase of emergency.

9.   Be aware of your environment:

One of the major ways to avoid kidnapping is to be thoroughly vigilant which means you live in your house like an investigator. This entails being aware of every happening around you and your family every time. Vigilance keeps you alert when others are not.

10.   Always keep your phone handy:

Keeping your phone with you at all times is very important, as it can be a source of help when there is a threat of kidnap. Do not just keep your phone with you but also make sure you have airtime, no matter how little so that it can be useful in times of danger.

11.   When you notice a threat, attract the attention of people

Whenever you notice any threat of kidnap around you, attract the attention of people around to yourself by screaming or shouting. Keep doing this until you notice that people have gathered around you and can come to your rescue.

12.   Don’t get too close to a stranger:

Try not to share valuable information with those you don’t know. That stranger may be a kidnapper in disguise so avoid strictly any stranger that tries to move close to you unnecessarily.

13.   Let someone know where you’re going:

If you must meet a new acquaintance, make sure someone knows where you’re going and who you’re meeting. Leave a message with a family member or friend where you’re headed and if possible, give the name of the person you’re about to meet and other details you might know. It’s better than most to give too much details of the new acquaintance to your family than too little incase the information becomes vital.

14.   Do not accept rides by strangers:

Once you get into a stranger’s car, you are at their mercy. They could either incapacitate you or hold you hostage and you might not have an opportunity to defend yourself.So, as much as you can, refrain from taking car rides from total strangers who may have ulterior motives.

15.   Train your children to never talk to strangers:

It is your duty as a parent to train your children to avoid strangers, even if they seem friendly and offer gifts. If a stranger asks for help, tell your child to refuse and to call the attention of an adult immediately. If a gift is being offered, tell them not to accept anything, no matter how tempting.

16.   Be careful about what you post on social media:

Social media has been a blessing to many but it can also be used as a force for evil. Be careful not to reveal too much about yourself or your family members via social media. No need to flaunt new cars, houses, or condominium units. Never reveal addresses and be sure to turn off the GPS function on your smartphones. Do not post on social media the places you frequent. Some people are unaware that Facebook and other sites reveal the specific location from where you are posting on social media. This could make it easy for you to be trailed and hunted down by kidnappers.

17.   Be vigilant always: Like boy scouts, you need to be prepared at all times. You don’t have to wait until it is dark to put on your ‘Caution’ signal but you should be wary at all times. It is true that most crimes occur at night but there is an increasing growth in kidnap cases happening in broad daylight so you should always be vigilant, day or night.

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