(Editor’s note: This story is the second part of a multi-part series “Last Seen…,” examining the real life horrors of kidnapping that began with Issue #7 and concludes in Issue #12. Several staff members took it upon themselves to interview, take photographs and conduct research. The results of their combined efforts follow.)
by: NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief
Kidnapping can happen at any given time and place.
According to Nickolis Castillo, campus police officer at South Plains College, it is most likely for someone to get kidnapped or abducted if he or she is alone, or if he or she is walking around at night.
“The first thing you would do is prevent something like that from happening,” says Castillo. “There are some easy steps to prevent kidnapping or abductions. First is very cliché, but use the buddy system. It sounds kind of cheesy. But, being in groups, you should at least have one friend with you. You have less chance of being attacked if they’re in a group of people.”
Attackers usually look for a path of least resistance, according to Castillo. He says that attackers don’t want to get caught, so they look for a person who shows any kind of weakness, or for someone who is isolated.
“Another tip is to stay in well lit areas,” says Castillo. “One thing I do see sadly is students walking around alone at night. It’s better to stay around the streetlights or even by well-lit buildings. Students shouldn’t be walking through a big dark field because it’s harder for anyone to see you. If there are witnesses, they won’t be able to know what’s going on.”
Castillo also adds that students or anyone should check their surroundings at all times and be aware of what’s going on, especially in vehicles.
“There have actually been quite a few people that have been abducted out of their vehicle,” explains Castillo. “They get in their vehicle, then they start rummaging through stuff, going through a checkbook, or talking on the phone and somebody just hops in the car and drives off with them, or if they’re waiting for someone.”
According to Castillo, there have been incidents at gas stations where women will go in the store and pay for gas, and when they come back, somebody is waiting for them.
“Check your vehicles, dorm, or your housing of any kind,” says Castillo. “If you’ve been in a parking lot of any kind, leave immediately, and if you have something to do of any kind that will draw away attention from your surroundings, do it in a safe environment. Also, know your emergency numbers.”
Castillo explains that there have been times when people don’t call 911, because they think it’s not a big deal and they don’t want to get in trouble.
“We’ve had a lot of people say that,” says Castillo. “Always call 911, even if you’re not sure and nobody will get on to you for not knowing.”
Castillo says that the SPC campus police wants anyone to support any suspicious activity at all times.
“If you have a suspicious activity going on and it’s not necessarily a life-threatening matter, you can call us,” Castillo says. “We recommend calling 911. But we do have a campus police number. We also recommend anyone that is fearful. Don’t be afraid to call us and ask if we can walk with you from your classes or vehicles if you are walking alone at night. We will be happy to walk with you and have our presence around.”
Castillo says the campus police recommends whoever is in a kidnapping situation fight in every way possible.
“You could quite possibly be in a life or death situation,” explains Castillo. “The vast majority of kidnappers leave the scene if there is resistance of any kind. They usually flee the scene because they can get caught.”
If anyone on campus is abducted, the campus police will be contacting nearby law enforcement agencies and send out a APB (all purpose Bulletin), according to Castillo.
“We’re going to have everyone in the surrounding region looking for the last vehicle you were in, the person you were last with,” explains Castillo. “The Amber alerts has been a wonderful system that is efficient. It let’s everyone know ‘Hey, we’re looking for this vehicle and this person,’ and it has helped find quite a few people.”
If anyone on campus needs to report suspicious activity, or if you need reassurance about your safety, contact the campus police at (806) 716-2396, or (806) 891-8883.