Rapaport Magazine

Antwerp

By Marc Goldstein
Beware Tiger Kidnappers

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre Security Office (AWDC SO), in collaboration with the local police of Antwerp, has launched a tailor-made integrated anti-tiger kidnapping program for the Antwerp diamond industry. According to AWDC, the primary objective of the program is to explain and to assist in implementing prevention techniques and security procedures that need to be applied in order to discourage tiger kidnapping.
   The phrase refers to a two-part crime in which the perpetrators first kidnap a person or persons and hold them as hostages to force an associate or family member to commit a theft or burglary to free the hostages. The tiger reference is to the fact that the perpetrators, like tigers, choose their victims carefully and observe them for a period of time before attacking.
   The most recent tiger kidnapping in Antwerp’s diamond industry occurred in December 2012, when a diamantaire’s wife was held hostage while he was forced to travel to his office in the Diamond Mile and empty his office safes and turn over the safe contents as a ransom before his wife was released. No arrests have been made in the case and none of the stolen goods were recovered.

Crime Prevention
   Ari Epstein, chief executive office (CEO) of the AWDC, elaborated. “We are fortunate that tiger kidnappings don’t happen often, but it’s crucial to prevent this type of crime at all cost. Security is one of the important aspects we defined in our Strategic Plan, launched in early 2012. In the first phase, we restructured the AWDC Security Office, redefined its operations, coordination and communication and appointed Stephan Van Hauwe as senior security coordinator. In a second phase, we joined forces with the local police of Antwerp, the Province of Antwerp and the City of Antwerp to launch a series of security awareness sessions, the first of which is this dedicated anti-tiger kidnapping program.”
   As a token of the commitment of city authorities in the matter, the new mayor of Antwerp, the Flemish leader Bart De Wever, commented, “The Antwerp diamond industry is not a secluded area but a part of one of the busiest districts in our city. Therefore, it’s essential to provide a secure environment where people can live and work together in safe conditions. Security is key to the long-term development of our Antwerp diamond business.”

Program Launch
   The anti-tiger kidnapping program was launched at a general information session June 27, 2013, held at the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, to which everyone active in the diamond business was invited. Approximately 100 persons attended this first session, which is scheduled to be followed by many others on a regular basis. The purpose of the program is to inform diamantaires on the most efficient ways of improving the security of their personal and professional environments. Among the new options is the opportunity diamantaires now have to schedule a dedicated police unit visit to their homes and offices to give them specific recommendations on improving security and preventing and reducing risks.
   The first session explained that the program was three-pronged: what to do to prevent incidents, what to do during a tiger kidnapping and what to do afterward. Serge Muyters of the Antwerp local police department, confirmed, “Early detection is key in this anti-tiger kidnapping program. A very important security measure is the creation of a clear risk analysis. The Antwerp police offer all members of the Antwerp diamond industry a professional and free-of-charge audit by trained specialists. They will audit your home and give you detailed technical advice on how you can improve the security in and around your house or office.”

On an Individual Basis
   Some companies have initiated their own security steps. At Rosy Blue, “we have conducted a comprehensive security assessment and we developed a new security strategy that includes revised safety and security policies and procedures,” says Iris Van der Veken, manager of corporate affairs for Global Rosy Blue. “We truly believe that successfully employing the safety and security measures requires resourcefulness and vigilance from all companies in the diamond district. It is hoped that by applying these measures within a framework of the AWDC security strategy and our own internal measurements, we can prevent safety and security incidents from ever occurring. When they do occur, the well-prepared family/staff member can take quick and decisive action to minimize the likelihood of injury or damage.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2013. To subscribe click here.

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