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Tiger Kidnapping

Tiger kidnapping is a specific act that pairs kidnapping with a second illegal activity. The kidnapping is conducted to coerce an individual or group into perpetrating a crime. An item or person is held hostage, and the kidnappers demand action instead of payment. Tiger kidnapping forces an innocent third party to complete high-risk, illegal work. The kidnappings are rarely reported since the very nature of the set-up means that the victims are also guilty of committing a crime.

The term “tiger kidnapping” comes from the way a tiger stalks its prey before it strikes. Criminals use the same tactic. They learn about their quarries’ weaknesses before they exploit them, eventually targeting the item or person that they believe will elicit a desired reaction.

Tiger kidnappings originated from adapted Irish Republican Army tactics. The first recorded tiger kidnapping took place in the early 1970s, but the practice became widespread during the 1980s. The tactic was particularly prolific amongst crime syndicates in Ireland and the UK. In 2009, Irish Parliament member Charlie Flanagan reported that “tiger kidnappings are taking place in Ireland… at a rate of almost one per week.”

Famous tiger kidnappings include the Northern Bank robbery, the Kilkenny hurler kidnapping, and the Bank of Ireland robbery. Small businesses with limited security are at particular risk of being targeted. Most tiger kidnappings involve less than one million pounds. The best security against tiger kidnapping is for businesses to mandate simple security changes, such as requiring that two or more people work together when operating in secure areas.


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