When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action. They rented out my room. 

WOODY ALLEN

Kidnapping

Fake kidnapping


A faked kidnapping is one way to get out of an awkward situation:

  • 36-year-old New Yorker Rahmell Pettway faked his own kidnapping to cover up for the fact that he hadn’t got round to calling his girlfriend for two weeks. Police suspicions were aroused because, when he was found, he still had a roll of duct tape dangling from his wrists.
  • In Jan 2013, the 11-year-old son of a Spanish policeman texted his father to say he’d been kidnapped. The alert went out, roadblocks were set up – and then the boy was found hiding at home, desperate to avoid parents’ evening at his school.
  • In 1993, 25-year-old Joanna Grenside from Hertfordshire faked a kidnapping because she was bulimic and couldn’t face all the food she would be given at Christmas.
  • In 2005, 32-year-old Jennifer Wilbanks from Duluth, Minnesota, faked a kidnapping to get out of attending her own wedding.
  • In 2012, 48-year-old Texan Sheila Eubank faked her kidnapping for a day off work.
  • Weirdest of all, perhaps, is the 2008 case of Spaniard Josefa Sanchez Vargas, who convinced her husband to pay ransoms totalling more than half a million pounds to secure the release of their children after she faked their kidnapping on six different occasions over five years.

A French company called Ultime Realité will arrange a fake kidnapping for you. The €900 basic package involves being captured, gagged and locked up, while higher-end packages offer escape attempts and helicopter chases.

Stockholm syndrome


'Stockholm Syndrome', in which a kidnap victim or hostage develops an empathetic bond with their kidnapper, may not be so much a real syndrome as over-reporting of an atypical phenomenon by the press. It’s named after the 1973 bank robbery and siege of the Norrmalmstorg Kreditbanken in central Stockholm, in which four hostages held for six days rejected assistance and then defended the robbers after they were released (the Swedes still refer to it as Normalmstorgssyndromet). The best known case is that of Patty Hearst, the newspaper heiress, who spent two months as a hostage of the Symbionese Liberation Army, but ended up helping them rob a bank in San Francisco. Her Stockholm Syndrome-coercion defence failed at trial, and she was given a jail sentence before eventually receiving a Presidential pardon in 2001.
 
Popular psychology suggests that it’s a defence mechanism with an evolutionary origin, were women who were captured by other clans to become 'wives' had no choice but to make the best of it. Adherents of this idea extend its impact into non-hostage situations such as abusive domestic relationships, and even into completely unrelated fields such as politics (governments 'held hostage' by banks respond by bailing them out) and fairy stories, such as Beauty and the Beast.

 

Until the practice was banned, 30 boys a month were kidnapped to be used as racing camel jockeys.
Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe was kidnapped as a child and brought up by his uncle Joerge.

RODNEY DANGERFIELD

I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

ANDY WARHOL

Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery

Famous victims


When King John II of France was captured by the English at the Battle of Poitiers, he was held for ransom for 3 million crowns. The king was sent back to France to raise the funds, leaving his son, Louis of Anjou, in English-held Calais as a replacement hostage. 3 million crowns was a hell of a lot for an impoverished France, and eventually with no sign of release, Louis escaped. When King John found out about this, he handed himself back in to the English citing reasons of 'good faith and honour.'
 
Another famous kidnap victim who did not display Stockholm Syndrome was Julius Caesar. Kidnapped by pirates and then ransomed, he raised a fleet, pursued and captured the pirates, and then crucified them, as he had told them he would while in captivity - a promise the pirates had taken as a joke.
 
When Thomas Aquinas decided to become a Dominican, his family were so unamused with him joining what they considered a 'begging order'  they had him kidnapped and imprisoned, in the hope that he would change his mind.

In some areas of Kyrgyzstan, 75% of brides are kidnapped by their husbands.