Latest figures released today from the kidnapping sector show no signs of recovery, as hostage-takers around the world reported further drops in the market rates for hostage release. ‘Trouble is, it’s a ransom-payers’ market,’ said sOmEOnE yOu dON’t WaNT tO mESs wiTh, who used to kidnap to order on behalf of terrorist organisations, but picked a bad time to go freelance last year.
‘They know they’ve got the upper hand in negotiations as we can’t afford for the deal to fall through. There was a time when the threat of violence used to grease the wheels, but not anymore. Only the other day I told some bloke that if he didn’t pay up, I’d pull out his wife’s teeth. He told me that was fine, but could I leave her gold crowns as he’d never find any to match.’
With ransom prices in freefall, many kidnappers are becoming victims to the unscrupulous practices that are bringing the profession into disrepute. ‘Some of these cowboys just come along with no regard for protocol,’ reported one captor. ‘When I took that city trader’s daughter, I followed the industry guidelines, sending a legitimate pro-forma ransom demand, in the standard newspaper cutting format.
‘We had an agreement to release her for a hundred grand. Then some joker comes along and tells the parents he’ll release her for seventy-five. Before I know it, we’re in a bidding war and I have to drop thirty large off the asking price just to keep the deal. It shouldn’t be allowed.’
But canny hostages’ relatives are seizing the opportunities offered by the economic downturn to negotiate the best possible deal. ‘When mercenaries took my wife, they sent me a demand for 3million quid to guarantee her safe return,’ said IT magnate William Fence. ‘I told them they were crazy if they thought they were going to get that in this market.
‘I offered 1.8million if she came back with her roots done and a boob job. Ultimately, we couldn’t agree terms, so they dropped her off a bridge, which saved me paying someone else to do it – just goes to show that the great deals are out there, you just have to be prepared to haggle.’