The Kim Kardashian West Robbery – Key Security Considerations
It is always easy to criticize from the wings or give sage advice after an event but when it comes to dealing with high profile clients such as Kim Kardashian West things are rarely going to be straight forward. To say that a simple solution exists that would have prevented this week’s robbery would also be unwise.
As information trickles out and the rumor mill remains in high gear, the only certainty is that there are more questions than known facts about what happened and how it occurred in the public domain. The Paris police, quite rightly, are keeping certain things under wraps although much will surely follow in the weeks to come.
However, at The ASA Group, we do believe that there are some key considerations and questions regarding security that this high-profile case brings up and it offers an interesting opportunity to discuss the sometimes different aspects of the client-security relationship. How, in certain circumstances, the client might be making decisions that could put themselves in jeopardy.
Kim Kardashian West – Case Review:
Kim Kardashian West was staying in Paris at the exclusive Hôtel de Pourtalès, which is known to have been frequented by the likes of Prince and Madonna. All employees of the establishment sign a strict confidentiality agreement and discretion is considered an absolute.
At the time of the crime, there are reports that Kardashian West’s bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, was taking care of other members of her family who were still out and about in Paris.
According to US Weekly – at 2:25 am on October the 3rd five men dressed as police officers entered the residence, restrained and gagged the male concierge putting him in the stairwell, before making their way to Kardashian West’s room. They were able to enter her room using a master key from the concierge and once inside, tied her up and locked her in the bathroom.
They then proceeded to search the rooms, gathering anything of value.
A close friend of Kim Kardashian, Simone Harouche, was in the apartment next door and called Kardashian West’s bodyguard but the thieves were in and out within six minutes, before any police or other assistance could arrive. The suspects currently remain at large.
In addition, the Paris police are looking into the possibility that the robbery may have had inside information or assistance.
The final toll for Kim Kardashian West is an estimated $10 million loss, including a $4.5 million diamond ring and a new and terrifying experience.
Key Considerations for Executive Protection Officers and their Clients
1. Executive Protection Officers – Unarmed or Armed?
This fact cannot be overlooked; anytime a firearm is involved it increases the possibility that things can go terribly wrong if not dealt with appropriately. Some might say that an executive protection officer or bodyguard with a gun could have stopped the bad guys, others would disagree:
For Armed Executive Protection Officers – Kardashian West’s known bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, would not have been able to carry a firearm as he is a civilian agent. Furthermore, it is illegal for anyone outside of law enforcement to carry a firearm in France. However, even if an Executive Protection Officer is armed the best case scenario is that it would deter the criminals enough that they just wouldn’t attempt the robbery.
Against Armed Executive Protection Officers – The worst case scenario is that one armed bodyguard is met by a highly organized and armed group of 5, which could lead to shots being fired. Fundamentally, carrying weapons has the chance to escalate a situation from dangerous to deadly under the wrong circumstances.
2. Where to Stay
It is easy to understand why individuals in the spotlight try their best to find privacy and seclusion. Paparazzi, stalkers, and in Kim Kardashian’s case, there was even a prankster that attempted to grope her just a week earlier. However, it should be understood that there is a big difference between a small and well-kept residence in comparison to a big 5-star hotel concerning security.
Small Location Considerations – The client might feel more at ease in a private environment and away from fans and the media. Some small places can be very secure – CCTV, alarms, proper security on windows & doors, and trained security. The trick is to find the correct place. This also has the potential, depending on how discreetly things are done to keep possible criminals from knowing where they are staying.However, all of these positive aspects can also lead to a smaller security force, small facilities as well as seclusion and danger in that seclusion. If the residence is too small, there might not be space for bodyguards to stay in an adjacent room, this means more gaps in security.
Larger Hotel Considerations – If well-known clients stay in a larger hotel there is still a certain amount of privacy that can be maintained. Many hotels have “secret” entry-exit points direct to car parks or loading bays where high-end individuals can keep their cars and direct lifts to them controlled by hotel security – directly room to car where no one can see them.Lots of floors and rooms can make it harder for bad guys to know where the target is, it’s also much easier to deter the type of 5 man burglary that took place in Paris. With many witnesses, and chances to be spotted, a high level of risk would be involved.However, bigger hotels also mean individuals are harder to spot and do not stick out, making it easier for burglars to get inside a building unnoticed.
3. Security Team Size
From all reports it seemed that Kim Kardashian West had only one bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, who accompanied her to Paris. At the time of the attack, Duvier was away from Kim as he was keeping an eye on some of her family members who were still out in Paris. Of course, there is only so many places one person can be. Therefore, we would suggest a larger team to maintain 24/7 coverage.
Reasons for a larger security team – The presence, coverage, and manpower that goes hand in hand with more officers is highly beneficial. Typically three security agents can work in shifts of 8-12 hours, adjusting as needed, and combining skills and experiences to deliver more complete protective services. In the case of a robbery, one or two agents on standby, even outside or nearby the residence, would be invaluable.
Reasons against a larger security team – More executive protection agents means more of a presence, of course, many times people do not want to be accompanied by many people. It also increases the cost to the client, and as bad things rarely happen when security is good, it is sometimes difficult to see the reason for it. Even if you were able to have protection 24/7, it would not necessary change the outcome of 5 armed and dressed as police attackers.
4. Social Media and Safety
Kim Kardashian is a unique case, as she lets everyone know where she is and what she is doing. It is certain that she’s been briefed on what to post and what not to post, but it is surely a difficult balance as this is one part of her life. The ability to update fans on her life and to communicate with her audience. As executive protection officers, the priority is put on safety and security, but consideration must be made and the security status adjusted to ensure that the security operation does not unduly interfere with the day to day business to be done.
This is not what the careers of celebrities or public figures are built upon. Therefore, it is not unusual to have differences of opinion with clients, but here are a few that should be avoided:
Photos or selfies that would allow individuals to know the layout or security protocols of your residence
Posts that disclose travel or itinerary information
Updates that allow people to know if you are unguarded or alone at a location
Photos of rare or expensive items, it might already be known that you are wealthy, but there is no need to allow for individuals to take an inventory of your property
Tying into the use of social media, some are saying that this incident could have been avoided if Kim Kardashian West was more discreet. If her wealth, jewelry, purchases and lavish lifestyle were not displayed through her almost continuous presence on multiple forms of social media. However, being a public figure is Kim Kardashian’s job. This is how she made and makes her money so it is not a fully viable option. There are some suggestions in terms of valuables:
Scale down the amount of valuables that you bring with you on a trip
Use a high quality, correctly installed safe
Most hotel safe boxes are accessible with a little knowledge and skill
For serious valuables place them in the hotels strong room, vault, or large safe which is usually guarded by other security measures
6. Security Sweep of the Location
Before confirming any booking at a location, ensure that at least a basic security survey is conducted of the location to ascertain the security posture, presence, and capabilities including primary, secondary and secure routes for entry and egress. Knowing the layout of the building, possible entry and exit points, planning escape routes. These should all be done before setting up at the location.
7. Secure Transportation
A vital factor when traveling is that your normal trusted driver and vehicle are back at home. Ensure that you have secure and vetted transportation providers. This is hugely important when carrying out any operation, making sure that all things are set in place for success will avoid any possible threats in the first place.
Kim Kardashian West’s Robbery Closing Thoughts
In the end, there are many unknowns in the case of the Kim Kardashian West’s robbery, as there are in many of these situations. The preparedness of the criminals also plays an enormous role in what kind of measures would be useful. What we have tried to expand on here are several key elements that apply across High Net Worth protection operations. Hopefully leading to a deeper understanding of the complexities of the industry, but also some insights into what decisions were at play.