Infant Abduction Prevention, Part 2

What hospital security administrators need to know about the MO of infant abductors


Using a different MO, another abductor may spend time on a busy OB floor learning the staff's habits, practices, and weaknesses. She will hang around the waiting room until shift change knowing that is the time when there will be the smallest number of staff in the mother/baby unit. She will attempt to find an unlocked nurses lounge or locker where she can steal a scrub suit, lab coat or uniform. The official clothing will be hidden for use at the appropriate time. When she feels the time is right, she will change into her stolen scrub suit by using a nearby public rest room or empty patient room. She will then wait for the right time to make her move. It is then that she will make her way into the nursery. When she feels no one is looking she will take a baby, place it in a gym bag, or other container, and leave the nursery. She will immediately change back into her street clothes, throw the scrub suit away and leave the floor by an unlocked stairwell that empties directly to the outside, allowing her a quick get-away. The whole process will take place within a few minutes.

By the time someone has discovered the baby missing; the kidnapper will have left the hospital and traveled a considerable distance. The typical abductor tells us she picked a particular hospital as a target because she had the freedom to come and go as she pleased. Most abductors find they can travel the entire facility, day or night, without ever being challenged. By spending several days in and around the hospital and waiting rooms, the abductor learns all she needs to know to successfully abduct a baby. Most people are familiar with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping on a cold, winter night in 1932. However, the Charles Lindbergh kidnapping was for ransom, which does not fit the profile of the stranger abductor that threatens hospitals today.

Common Abductor Tricks

• She will pretend to be a hospital staff member, i.e. nurse, social worker, lab technician, volunteer, doctor, etc. to convince the mother she is an authorized caregiver.
• She may attempt to convince the staff she is a friend or acquaintance in an effort to gain your trust. A typical trick may be to agree to watch the mother's baby while the mother goes to the bathroom or takes a shower. She then proceeds to steal the mother's baby while the unsuspecting mother is out of sight.
• She will use a ruse to convince the mother she needs to take her baby for a legitimate purpose, i.e., medical procedure or test, to weigh the baby, or to take the baby back to the nursery for the evening.
• She may not be familiar with hospital procedures and after removing it from its bassinet, attempt to arm-carry the baby as she leaves the hospital.
• She will not wear a hospital photo ID badge. If she is wearing a stolen hospital photo ID badge, the picture will be facing backwards to hide the authorized caregiver's picture.
• She may attempt to call the mother's room in advance to inform her she will be coming by to take her baby for a particular purpose. This will be a trick she will use to gain the mother's confidence as well as convince her to hand over the newborn child.
• In most cases she will be wearing a scrub suit, nurse's uniform, or lab coat that she had stolen earlier.

In our next installment, we look at Why Hospitals Are Targets, and What Actions Hospital Security Administrators Can Do to Fight Back.

About the authors:
Jeff Aldridge, CPP, is an internationally recognized healthcare security consult and the Nation's "Number One" expert on infant security. Jeff works with Fortune 500 Companies in the design and development of state-of-the-art security products for the healthcare industry. He founded Security Assessments International (SAI is online at www.saione.com) in 1994 and continues to provide services for healthcare facilities throughout the U.S. and overseas. In addition, he serves as a consultant to the National media and law enforcement on infant security issues and has provided collaborative assistance to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Over the past 16 years Jeff has assisted over 600 healthcare facilities throughout the U.S. and abroad with their healthcare security issue. Jeff has assisted clients in England, Ireland, Australia, and Kuwait. He has been featured on ABCs 20/20, as well as "PM Magazine", a nationally syndicated television program. He was recently interviewed by NBC, CBS, and the FOX network concerning mother/baby mix-ups in hospitals. Jeff is a much sought after speaker for national and international healthcare organizations as well as a published author. Jeff testifies as an established expert witness in high profile infant abduction cases. He can be reached by email at jeff@saione.com.