As a foreigner with driving experience in Colombia, and not only from a safety point of view but security also, I can attest to the importance of having security awareness whilst behind the wheel in Bogota.
With the negative impact on the economy due to the fallout of the pandemic even the Secretary for Bogota announced his concerns with the increase in violent crimes and robberies in the Colombian Capital. He stated this month that the majority of these crimes have so far been carried out against vehicles.
Below are some statistics for the crime situation in Bogota throughout this year, 2020.
- 38.840 *Robberies Against Persons
- 4.884 Robberies in commercial establishments
- 494 Homicides
*Robo (robberies) – Definition in Colombia is the crime included in the criminal law and it is the seizure of something owned by a third person by force.
We at Black Mountain Solutions, always recommend to our clients that they are driven by a Security Driver in Colombia during their stay.
By the term Security Driver, we refer to a reliable vetted driver that has a sound working knowledge of the local area(s) and risks faced by International business travellers, and that has experience behind the wheel, understands the driving standards expected by clients and has experience working within a security capacity.
For the sake of brevity of the article we will only list a few examples of security related hazards that drivers may face in and around Bogota. To understand both safety & security risks in more depth please visit https://blackmountain-solutions.com/contact/ and contact us for further information.
As the economic situation in Colombia has deteriorated due to the negative fallout from covid-19 the criminals in the streets of Bogota have become more creative with their ideas.
Only within the last two months, local authorities in Bogota have denounced several criminal modus operandi operating within Bogota and its surrounding areas. These include:
- Throwing bicycles under a static vehicle to prevent the driver from pulling away. Forcing the driver to exit the vehicle or to be static for a longer period of time. Or even drive over the bicycle and face possible allegations of damage or attempted vandalism.
- Grieving mothers surrounding a vehicle at traffic lights or junctions with a false baby’s arm protruding from an article of clothing. Tricking the driver or passengers into feeling remorse for the grieving mother and breaking the seal of the vehicle and being exposed to risk of mugging
- Targeting luxury vehicles to source their income in the criminal underworld. There have also been reports of criminals targeting armoured vehicles.
- Criminals are now also using Dataphones (electronic payment vectors) when carrying out these crimes. By forcing the victim to make a transaction by card on the spot. With this method, the criminal does not need to rely on the victim having cash. Also, by not requiring carrying out an express kidnap to the ATM, the criminal reduces the chance of getting caught by the Police.
How Black Mountain Solutions can reduce the risk of criminal activity faced by international travellers in Bogota?
Often, these crimes are opportunistic. Criminals select the victim(s) that appear most vulnerable. For example, the female driver static at the traffic lights, with her car window down, not paying attention whilst texting on her phone. This is called the Target Selection Phase and fundamentally the most important element within the criminal planning cycle that victims need to avoid. By avoiding this phase, the criminals will simply select a more vulnerable target.
How can a Black mountain Solutions driver avoid the Target Selection phase?
Our drivers have extensive experience providing services for International VIPs, travellers and executives, therefore understanding the risks that they may face whilst staying in Bogota.
- By following Journey Management Guidelines established by Black Mountain senior EXPAT management such as; keeping a *low profile or locking doors & windows rolled up whilst static at traffic lights or junctions. These simple measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of being selected as a target.
- With the knowledge of the local area(s) and security situation, drivers can plan ahead using alternative routes and avoiding flash points are known hotspots.
- Having a background in Military/police. Even though this is not an essential for our drivers, staff with this type of background often have a better understanding of the criminal situation in Colombia and can relate to their prior experience from working in the public services.
- Bilingual. In the event of an incident the driver can communicate clearly with the client.
- Driving Standards. All Black Mountain Solutions drivers in Colombia have worked with Black Mountain Solutions senior EXPAT management on tasks and understand the driving standards and client expectations to international standards.
- Defensive Driving. Have been demonstrated defensive driving techniques to reduce risks from criminal gangs such as spacing to carry out manoeuvres or anticipating the change of traffic lights. They are also aware of hazards such as other road users or the natural elements, weather etc.
- Code of Conduct. Drivers also understand the Code of Conduct and how they should act on a day to day basis and the importance it has on the reflection of the company (and its stakeholders) daily operations, core values and culture.
Black Mountain Solutions understands that with the employment of a Security Trained Driver, by keeping a *low profile (task and client profile dependent), diligent selection of routes & locations and response planning in place, the chances of International Travelers becoming targets of criminal activity while transiting in and around Bogota can be significantly reduced.
*Low Profile – adopting a posture that does not attract unwanted attention such as using a vehicle that does not appear luxury or suggest that the driver/passenger is wealthy or high profile.
Article wrote by Freddie Ellis CPP, Co-Founder of Black Mountain Solutions – LATAM Protection & Secure Travel Services