As managing director of the private client group for K2 Intelligence, an investigative and risk-consulting firm, Jordan Arnold and his team devise custom plans to protect high-profile and affluent clients—or resolve a security issue if a problem has already occurred. Before joining K2, Arnold spent over 12 years as a Manhattan assistant district attorney, where he prosecuted cases that ranged from petty assaults, gangs and other criminal rings to homicide, extortion, art fraud and financial crime. He recently helped open a K2 office in Los Angeles to better serve its clients in that area, many of whom are women in media and entertainment. While at the executive and high net worth level everyone is a potential target, Arnold explains why there are some considerations that women in particular should keep in mind.
CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE.
“Coming and going from your home, for a person who’s either being targeted or is high profile, can be a major vulnerability,” Arnold says. “When you are engaged in routine behavior, it makes it that much easier for criminals to target you.” It’s not that women have more routines than men, but rather that in terms of physical risk, they are more likely to be targeted by stalkers, he says.
GO EASY ON THE SOCIAL MEDIA.
“You don’t want to be always advertising where you are,” Arnold warns. “That’s telling an opponent two things: where you are and where you’re not.” Women don’t use social media more than men—while there was a significant gender gap in the past, according to the Pew Research Center it has virtually disappeared. But studies show that the platforms women tend to use more, such as Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, allow for more engagement, which is a vulnerability.
RELY ONLY ON LICENSED TRANSPORTATION.
Arnold’s team considers travel security of particular concern for women. “Virtually every airport has people trying to offer rides who are not authorized to do so. Some of them are well-intentioned, and some of them are not,” he says, citing the ease with which a last-minute car ride can turn into a kidnapping and ransom event. “You can’t leave transportation plans to chance.”
KNOW YOUR HOTEL.
Because sexual assault risk is higher for women than men, women traveling should be strategic about the hotel where they stay and their location within it. “People focus on the perceived quality of a hotel: how nice it is, what amenities it has. But how safe is it?” he says. “Ask for a room closer to an elevator than to an emergency exit because stairwells are places where attackers tend to loiter, and make sure that staff at the front desk don’t say your room number out loud. He also recommends staying in hotels that require the use of a guest card to operate the elevator, and to avoid gyms that are tucked away and empty. “You have to be real about the fact that women are targets for sexual predators.”
MAKE SURE YOUR DOOR IS SHUT.
People sometimes literally leave the door wide open for criminals. At the Manhattan DA’s office, Arnold prosecuted pattern burglar James Bennett, who pilfered more than $230,000 worth of cash, electronics and jewelry from guests in some of New York’s most elegant hotels, such as the Plaza, St. Regis and Essex House. “His modus operandi was devastatingly simple,” Arnold recalls. “He would dress like a guest, take an elevator to one of the upper floors and just walk down the hall and push on doors to see who didn’t pull theirs shut.”
BE AWARE OF CULTURAL DIFFERENCES.
Business travelers, particularly women, should be aware of gender relations and customs, which may include wearing certain garments in some countries or addressing business associates in a specific way. Arnold notes that while most corporations have in-house teams to educate their executives on cultural norms, those with a predominantly male team may not consider the particular issues that women face.
CONDUCT ONGOING BACKGROUND CHECKS.
“The people closest to you are best positioned to exploit you,” Arnold says. “Circumstances in life change. The person you hired 10 years ago who was as clean as a whistle could have since been arrested and convicted for a violent crime, or racked up a series of liens and judgments, perhaps filed for bankruptcy. You don’t want your assets and resources to be a source of relief for their financial distress.”