The Investigator: Kidnapping


By RW “Pete” Peterson

Kidnapping is very prevalent in many other countries but, fortunately, it is in decline in the United States thanks to improved security and tracking counter measures.

In one particular case, we provided security and oversight to a major client. Primarily we performed “due diligence” and background for his investments, partnerships, etc.

Our client had recently had two high profile business successes. We had counseled him and the family on awareness and the importance of altering their travel routes, etc. We also provided physical security when they attended high profile events.

One day we were conferring with the client at his residence when his wife came in looking somewhat distraught. She explained that she thought she may be being paranoid, but she thought that she might have been followed when picking up the children at their elementary school. She believed she had seen the same green pickup truck behind her several times during the trip.

The next day we installed hidden video in the rear of her vehicle and performed counter surveillance on the way to school. The subjects did not appear until she had dropped the kids and was leaving the school. They followed her to the dentist’s office where she had an appointment, then broke off their surveillance. We did not see them until two days later when they followed her from the school back to the residence.

We had run their plate and knew who the driver was, and had been able to identify the passenger through some research of his friends. They both had misdemeanor criminal records, but nothing close to what we feared they could be contemplating now. We talked to local law enforcement but, of course, there was nothing they could do at this point.

By this time we had two extra people monitoring the residence and had supplied the entire family with small, covert GPS tracking units. The kids weren’t told what they were because we didn’t want to concern them. We had alerted the school administration to our concerns. We also instituted some counter measures that I won’t divulge here because they are “tricks of the trade” and somewhat sensitive.

We then located their temporary residence which was on a family friends’ boat in Marina Del Rey. They had no means of support and spent most of their time with a couple of girls drinking beer and smoking dope. By this time we knew their entire histories, circle of friends, family, etc. We had been able to listen in on several conversations in which they were bragging about possibly “coming into some money.”

They did not follow the wife for the next three days, but they had been within several blocks of the residence four times.

At this point we conferred with the client and everyone was very concerned. I don’t believe that I had slept more than three hours in the last two days. To be candid, I was sleep deprived and in a state of extreme anxiety. How could I live with myself if something happened to the family? The client and his wife were holding up well, considering. We informed the client that we were contemplating something more pro-active but didn’t think he needed to know the details.

We were trying to cover all of the angles. We had determined where the driver was from in South Dakota and that the passenger was from San Diego and we had notified associates in those areas to be ready if we contacted them.

We decided to act.

The following day we saw them taking the boat out by themselves. We bought a 12- pack of beer and rented a small boat. We were able to pull up next to them when they were near the shore with fishing poles out. We came along side them, asked how their fishing was going and offered them some free beer. Before they could object we got on the swim step and boarded their boat. We then asked them to sit down and proceeded to inform them that we knew everything about them and that we thought we knew what they were up to with regard to our client. We told them that we would be tracking their every move going forward and if they were within 5 miles of our client or any member of his family there would be serious consequences. They said nothing and looked fairly shaken as we left.

We monitored them for the next week until we confirmed that one was back in South Dakota and the other had moved to Palm Springs.

Years later we still know where they are and what they’re doing. One has been in jail on theft charges and the other apparently found religion and is married with a small child.

RW (Pete) Peterson has been featured nationally and internationally in or on a variety of media outlets, including TIME, Newsweek, BBC Panorama, USA Today, Larry King, Court TV, Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, BARRON’S, Dateline, Washington Post, Denver Post and many others.

He can be reached at: 760-443-0575 or