You are more at risk of being kidnapped by friends and acquaintances than criminal gangs and militias, a new report has revealed.
According to a study by the National Crime and Research Centre (NCRC), friends have more information about your strengths, weaknesses and schedules, and are more motivated to kidnap you.
In the report titled ‘Emerging Crimes: The Case of Kidnappings in Kenya,’ 80 per cent of Kenyans believe friends and acquaintances are more likely to kidnap you compared to 72 per cent who believe criminal gangs and militia are more likely to kidnap you.
Speaking during the launch of the report, NCRC principal research officer Victor Opondo said revenge was the major cause of kidnappings by friends.
Surprisingly, 62 per cent of the 1,326 respondents felt they were more likely to be kidnapped by people they were romantically involved with.
“One of the reasons the crime is perpetuated could be to punish or revenge against victims or their relatives,” said Mr Opondo.
The report also listed family members and relatives as probable perpetrators of kidnappings contrary to societal perceptions.
In an ironical revelation, 39 per cent of security agents charged with the responsibility of ensuring safety of citizens are likely to kidnap or conspire with criminals to kidnap you.
“Some officers are also under pressure to maintain security. Part of kidnappings is to eliminate those who are a threat to security. At times, they kidnap when they think a victim has useful information. They also collude with kidnappers,” reads the report.
The study posits people living in Central Kenya are more likely to be kidnapped by friends and this is more prevalent in Kirinyaga County, followed by Murang’a and Nyeri.
The research says your friends could conspire with strangers to kidnap you for fear of being recognised.
It shows the main perpetrators are male youths aged between 18 and 35 years, who are unemployed or poverty-stricken and are keen on getting easy money.
It further says most kidnappers operate in groups and are largely driven by economic reasons as they hope to get huge ransoms from their victims and their families. The abductors will easily use illegal weapons against their victims.
The kidnappers’ main targets are members of wealthy families, especially children and women, business people and foreigner tourists who are deemed to have a lot of money.
Gerald Wandera, the NCRC director, said most kidnappings happened after 5pm, when children or business people are on their way home.
“Most children under 18, are in primary day schools and can easily be monitored by kidnappers. It is therefore a prerequisite for parents to be vigilant,” said Mr Wandera.
Attorney General Githu Muigai noted cases of kidnapping were on the increase and called on Kenyans to embrace crime intelligence while reiterating the need for citizens to be vigilant.
“At least 60 per cent of crimes can be reduced through accurate and timely intelligence, 10 per cent through rapid deployment of resources, 10 per cent through effective tactics and strategies and another 10 per cent through follow-ups and assessment,” said the AG.