Infant Abduction Prevention, Part 1

What hospital security administrators need to know to prevent abductions at their hospitals

In less than a year, two different women, posing as nurses, have snatched newborns from their mothers in Lubbock, Texas. One of the kidnappings occurred in the home; the other infant was taken from a local hospital. An infant abduction is truly a tragic and traumatic event for the hospital and absolutely devastating for parents and family members. The media circus that follows is beyond description. Hospital administrators and staff are overwhelmed by an onslaught of local, state, and national media. The hospital staff never fully recovers and may even choose other careers.

Join Jeff Aldridge, CPP, and Bryan Koontz, director of safety and security for High Point Regional Health System, for our free webinar: Securing America's Hospitals, on Aug. 8, 2007 at 1 p.m. Register today.

Because of the limited information available to the public, it is very unlikely that most new mothers or mothers-to-be would be even remotely aware of how easy it is for an abductor to enter a hospital room for the purpose of kidnapping a baby. Tragically, history has taught us that the kidnapper has very few barriers to gaining access into the maternity ward or the mother's room. In the largest percentage of these cases, the abductor uses a ruse or con as a means to take the child from the unsuspecting mother, or untrained staff member by impersonating another care-giver, usually a nurse. Once in the mother's room, the abductor continues to be very manipulative and will try to convince the mother to hand over her baby. After successfully leaving the mother's room with the infant, the kidnapper has no trouble leaving the hospital undetected. The whole process can occur in less than five minutes!

Reports of infant abductions go back for many years. Early reports were sporadic and much of the information obtained was anecdotal and of little use to law enforcement. The FBI has documented infant abduction cases as far back as 1950. Then, during the early 1980s, reporting methods improved as did the hospital's willingness to report abductions. Both of which may have contributed to the increased number of reported infant abductions during this decade. Cumulatively over the past 24 years, 248 infant abductions have been documented by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) and the NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children). Close to 50 percent of these infants were taken from hospitals. Unfortunately, there is no Federal Regulation requiring law enforcement or hospitals to report infant abductions to a central clearing-house to ensure accuracy. Thus, it is quite conceivable that infant abductions may be under reported. To the casual observer, the number of infant abductions may not appear to be significant when compared to the 4.2 million babies born in this country each year. However, these numbers are serious and significant to the victim baby, parents of the infant, and to the facility where the crime occurred.

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