Beck runs with debunked Phoenix kidnapping claim

››› ››› FAE JENCKS

Glenn Beck falsely claimed that Phoenix experiences more kidnappings "than any other city in the world outside of Mexico City." In fact, PolitiFact.com has reported that this claim is "false", saying that "experts advise that such rankings can't be made based on available information."

Beck claims Phoenix has more kidnappings "than any other city in the world" except Mexico City

Beck: Phoenix "has become the kidnapping capital of America, with more incidents than any other city in the world outside of Mexico City." On the June 30 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Beck suggested that illegal immigration in Arizona has gotten so bad that, "according to ABC News ... Phoenix, Arizona has become the kidnapping capital of America, with more incidents than any other city in the world outside of Mexico City." Beck then commented, "do you think we've got a problem in our country?"

PolitiFact: Claim that Phoenix has second-most kidnappings worldwide is false

PolitiFact: "Experts advise that such rankings can't be made based on available information," "no evidence" claim is accurate. PolitiFact.com assessed the claim that "Phoenix is the second kidnapping capital in the world" and determined it is "false." In a June 27 analysis of the claim, PolitiFact concluded:

Phoenix has experienced hundreds of kidnappings over the past few years. However, we couldn't find reliable around-the-planet evidence to confirm that only Mexico City experiences more of them. In fact, experts advise that such rankings can't be made based on available information. If they could, they speculate, other cities would prove to have more kidnappings than Arizona's capital.

We found nothing confirming Phoenix as No. 2 in kidnappings worldwide.

Neither FBI nor Interpol "could confirm that Phoenix has the second-highest frequency of kidnapping cases worldwide." PolitiFact reported that "Neither the FBI nor the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol... could confirm that Phoenix has the second-highest frequency of kidnapping cases worldwide." In fact, a spokeswoman for Interpol stated that the "agency doesn't track local kidnapping rates."

Kidnapping expert: "No reliably empirical data" exists on worldwide kidnappings. PolitiFact reported that Daniel Johnson, "an overseas kidnapping operations consultant at ASI Global," a company that counsels companies whose employees are kidnapped, said that kidnappings are "inherently under-reported" and that "no reliable empirical data" exists on them. Johnson also stated that "the definition of 'kidnap' varies" making totals difficult to quantify. Politifact further reported:

Johnson said: "From our internal experience in the last year, Mexico by far has been the biggest location for kidnappings" followed by Honduras, Venezuela, Nigeria and the Philippines. The company has handled domestic cases but Thompson said they don't compare in volume to overseas incidents. Thompson said the company annually dispatches a consultant to handle about 50 to 100 cases a year. Mexico City, Caracas, Venezuela, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras are the three cities where they work on the most kidnapping cases, he said.

Intelligence expert: "[T]here is no way that Phoenix is the No. 2 city in the world for kidnapping." From the June 27 PolitiFact report:

Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical intelligence for Stratfor, an Austin-based global intelligence company, separately chimed in: "According to our analysts, there is no way that Phoenix is the No. 2 city in the world for kidnapping and there are significantly more kidnappings in many other cities throughout Latin America," he said. "San Salvador, Guatemala City, Bogota as well as several cities in Mexico certainly have higher kidnapping rates than Phoenix."

That said, Stewart said Stratfor doesn't track such kidnapping statistics, noting that it's "extremely difficult to measure given the fact that so many cases go unreported and that the record keeping in many of the most effected countries is inaccurate." The company bases its information on "intelligence that we gather through our network of human and open sources, as well as the experience of our analysts," he said.

Phoenix Police Dept.: "almost everyone who is kidnapped in Phoenix is involved in criminal activities." PolitiFact further reported that Sgt. Tommy Thompson, the Phoenix Police Department's public information officer, "said almost everyone who is kidnapped in Phoenix is involved in criminal activities such as illegal border crossings and the drug trade. 'Unless you're involved in the dope trade, there's a very very slim chance' that you'll be kidnapped, he said."

Beck falsely claimed Arizona closed "an area that stretched 80 miles along the border"

Beck: Arizona "closed off an area that stretches 80 miles along the border," which is "giving up sovereignty." Also on the June 30 broadcast of his television show, Beck followed up his false claim about Phoenix by claiming that "it is so dangerous that in Arizona they have closed off an area that stretches 80 miles along the border." He added, "Some might say that's called giving up sovereignty."

Reality: Five miles square portion of wildlife refuge has been closed since 2006. As Media Matters has repeatedly noted, Fox News' reporting on the closure of a portion of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge along the border has been wildly inaccurate. In a press release debunking this "inaccurate reporting," the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said, "nearly 5-years ago, a very small portion of the Refuge closed to public access due to public safety concerns." The release further stated:

Recent news items further falsely stated that the closure extends from the border 80-miles to the north. This distance is far from accurate. On October 6, 2006 roughly 3500 acres, or 3% of the Refuge, was closed to public access due to human safety concerns. At that time there was a marked increase in violence along the border due to human and drug trafficking. The closed area extends north from the international border roughly ¾ of a mile. A notice of the closure, including a map has been on the Refuge website since 2006.

At this time there are no plans to reopen this southernmost 3/4-mile wide portion of the Refuge. However, since 2006 the Refuge has experienced a significant decline in violent activity in the area thanks to ongoing cooperation between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Customs and Border Protection. The Refuge will reopen the area at such time that it is determined to be safe for visitors.

Posted In
Immigration
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Glenn Beck
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck show
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