Survival Options:
How to Prevent Kidnapping

The best of your survival options is to prevent being kidnapped to a second crime scene that's even more dangerous than the first.

Jason Burgeson, 20, and Amy Shute, 21, had been dancing in a Providence RI club and were outside his car when five men kidnapped them at gunpoint, forced them into his car, drove them to a golf course, and shot them to death as they begged for their lives.

Anyone Kidnapping You Is Probably Not Just A Robber

15-year-old Kara Robinson was watering flowers in front of her friend's house on a Columbia SC residential street in broad daylight when Richard Marc Evonitz pulled his car into the driveway. He approached her with a handful of pamphlets, asking if she was interested in them. She declined but by then he was right in front of her, pressed a handgun to her throat, and ordered her into his car. Fearing he'd shoot her on the spot, she obeyed. He drove to his apartment where he bound and raped her. Though not aware he had murdered all his previous victims, she wisely controlled her fear as she befriended and lulled him into trusting her. As he slept, she loosened her bindings and escaped.

Kara, when first confronted, could have simply run away screaming. Almost all kidnappers would then flee because they greatly fear attracting attention. Kidnappers use guns to intimidate and control a victim, rarely ever to kill in public.

A man pointed a handgun at a 35-year-old woman in Flushing NY, and told her to get into the black van he was driving. She ran away and he drove away. An hour later, the same man pointed a handgun at a 16-year-old girl and said, "Don't run and get in the van." The girl ran away and he drove away.

A gunshot instantly rivets the attention of people nearby who’ll probably immediately call the cops. That deters a kidnapper who's hoping his gun will intimidate you to go with him to a hideaway where you’ll beg for mercy as he decides whether or not to let you – his only witness – remain alive.

A Gunman’s Command

What are your survival odds if you ignore his command and flee? Most people don’t know that handguns are very difficult to shoot accurately beyond "point-blank range" of 0-3 feet, especially at a moving target. According to Sanford Strong, San Diego police tactical instructor and author of Strong on Defense, trained police officers in gun battles miss with 76 percent of "close-range" shots (3-9 feet); while untrained criminals miss with 96 percent. Hollywood and TV distort reality.

A police academy student of mine, a Saginaw MI police officer, found a gang member dead on the street with one bullet to the head. But scattered on the ground nearby were 127 shell casings from 6 different guns. There were no other blood spatters nearby and no gunshot wounds reported at area hospitals. A raging gang battle had yielded only one actual hit – scoring less than one percent accuracy overall.

Another time, a student of mine ran to aid his undercover partner who stood fifteen feet from a drug dealer in a narrow hallway while they frantically emptied their guns at each other. They each fired 17 bullets but neither one was hit – both scoring zero percent accuracy.

Now, these were gun battles, wherein the shooters were hoping to dodge bullets while frenziedly firing back. Nevertheless, accurately shooting a live target – especially a moving target – is extremely difficult.

In the eternal moment before a gunman can react, aim, and fire, you can run beyond close-range.

Besides, J.J. Bittenbinder, a Chicago police detective and author of Tough Target, quotes Department of Justice figures showing only a 12 percent chance an abductor will pull the trigger in a populated area, a 6 percent chance of actually hitting you, and only a 3 percent chance of that bullet being fatal (shooting distance undetermined). Moreover, think about it, if he’s willing to shoot you there, he’s willing to do even worse harm elsewhere.

Most criminologists warn of the poor survival odds (possibly death by torture) if you are kidnapped to a secluded area. Why does he want to isolate you? Are you wealthy thus worth a ransom? Are you a hostage in a botched retail store robbery? If not, then you’ll be fully at the mercy of a violent criminal, possibly silenced forever afterward.

The above survival options rationale is based on the kidnapper using a (loud) gun to threaten you. But what if he instead uses a (silent) knife? There’s no noise factor to deter him. Yet the same survival rationale remains: if he’s willing to stab you there, he’s willing to do even worse harm elsewhere.

Not All Kidnappings Result in Violence

A young woman returned to her car in a shopping mall parking lot near New Orleans. A disturbed man with a gun confronted her and ordered her to drive him 1,200 miles to Philadelphia so he could see his family.

They stayed on interstate highways all the while, never venturing toward a secluded area. She never felt fear and sensed that he wouldn't rape or otherwise harm her, but still she was too afraid to try escaping even though she had many opportunities: they took turns driving, often stopping for food, gas, and restrooms.

Instead, she kept talking to him about his life. Maybe that's why she was eventually released unraped and unharmed near Philadelphia.

Though her intuition proved correct, she nonetheless would’ve had better survival odds had she escaped during one of her many opportunities instead of risking the whims of a disturbed man with a gun.

50/50 Survival Odds – for her
14-year-old Kelly St. John was running late for school and passed a stranger who was watching her intently. He grabbed her, flashed a knife, led her to his car and drove her to the woods. As he raped her, she told him she had a weak heart and was having an attack. When he was done, he said, "I'm going to do you a favor and let you live." Seven years earlier, his DNA was found on another 14-year-old girl he murdered after raping her.

Despite being taken to a second crime scene, she survived. But he did kill his other victim. Thus, as far as we know, this rapist's victims had 50/50 survival odds. However, Kelly's survival odds were better at the first crime scene had she thrashed and fled – especially in daylight. At that point, without harming the victim, most rapists simply flee.

Beyond the psychological harm, a rape victim usually suffers varying degrees of physical injury – possibly murder. If a victim is kidnapped to a second crime scene, she has no way of surely knowing the kidnapper’s ultimate intent – he may not know yet, either. His only witness, her survival hangs on the whim of a psychopathic predator.

Patti Kelly knelt in the dirt near Columbus GA, waiting to die. But her rapist said he didn't have the heart to kill her, and walked away.

Survival odds usually get worse in a secluded location, and a criminal’s escalation to violence against an isolated victim is usually sudden. Overall, resisting kidnapping – fighting – and escaping from the first crime scene is a far lower risk than being kidnapped to a second crime scene. See Kidnap Survival & Escape. Also see Child Safety Tips: Kidnapping Escape for many lessons that apply to adults as well.

Enhancing Your Survival Options

Deter a kidnapper by carrying Personal Security Alarm (screamer or noisemaker) & Pepper Spray in plain sight. Those pages also tell you how to use them most effectively.

Crime-Safety-Security > Survival Options Overview > Kidnapping Prevention

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.