More serious kidnappings can last for days, weeks, or even months. In 2009, a banker was nabbed and held for almost a year by kidnappers who kept him locked in a room where cameras watched him and music blared to prevent him from hearing anything. He never even saw his captors. In a movie, they would turn out to be flamboyant psychopaths, or members of some apocalyptic cult -- who else could do that to a person? But in Caracas, it's just business. They were professional and detached. The human being they subjected to a year of unimaginable psychological torture and deprivation was just ... merchandise. That's how it is there.
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"I hit my yearly quota, thanks to you!"
And like any business, there are always innovators. It has reached the point where they don't even have to kidnap someone to get ransom money -- if they can steal someone's phone for a few hours, they can call their family, claim responsibility for their inability to communicate, and get ransom money in return. It's all the profit with slightly less of the human misery! Another common tactic is basically a form of telemarketing that's somehow even more annoying than being told there's a special offer on a new credit card waiting just for you. Kidnappers know how to data mine, so if a bunch of rich kids go to a movie, one of their parents might get a call along the lines of, "We know your son drives a black SUV, we know he's watching the latest Nicolas Sparks films because he's not afraid to get in touch with his feminine side, and if you don't give us some money, we'll kill him before he learns the big plot twist." The bad guys barely have to leave their sofa.
"We also have his call logs and browsing history and ... I dunno ... just, maybe, have a talk with the boy, OK?"
People can go into debt to pay ransoms, even though it's technically illegal to pay (and there's no guarantee you'll get your loved one back). And if you're wondering why we just aren't more cautious about kidnappings, well, what can we do? A locked car door isn't going to save me from a guy with a gun. If you're one of those lucky folks who live in a place where kidnappings aren't happening every few hours, it's not because you're careful -- it's because would-be kidnappers know they probably won't get away with it. In, say, Portland, kidnapping is a very high-risk, low-reward business -- the captors will go to pick up the ransom money and get tackled by a bunch of cops with ironic mustaches. That simply isn't the case in Caracas.