Missing NY Woman’s Body Found in Turkey

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Travel Security Awareness

I had been following the story of a woman who traveled alone, to Turkey, and went missing for a few days when the news outlets travel security awarenessreleased that her body was found.

She was likely a victim of an overseas kidnapping that could have been prevented by some basic travel security awareness measures.

I first saw the news of Sarai Sierra going missing last week when my girlfriend brought it to my attention. She told me about it because she knows that I train people in travel security awareness and provide a variety of other executive travel security service to corporations.

She briefly told me about the story and asked me what I thought was going to happen to the woman…

Unfortunately, given the details that I had from the media, the outcome was as I expected. I say that not to be callous or insensitive. It was just that she walked into a bad situation where the odds were not on her side.

If she had practiced some basic travel security awareness, she would have been much more likely to come home safely to her family.

There are a few key points that any American, especially a woman by herself, should be aware of before traveling to Turkey:

  • The U.S. State Department reports on the section of its website devoted to travel security awareness on Turkey:
    • THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: There have been violent attacks throughout Turkey, and there is a continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout Turkey.
    • U.S. Citizens should exercise caution and good judgment, keep a low profile, and remain vigilant with regard to your personal security.  The Embassy and Consulates have received reports of crimes against women.  Female travelers are urged to exercise caution and use common sense, especially when alone.
  • According to the Turkey Travel Planner, women traveling by themselves should be fine as long as they conform to local customs and attitudes.
    • This information may be accurate, but one should keep in mind that the site is intended to promote tourism in Turkey and not travel security awareness.
    • They do bring up the point that women need to conform to local customs and standards. In most Muslim countries, that means that women are required to at least cover their hair with a scarf and may need to be escorted by a male companion.

One of the things I teach in my classes is to perform a personal travel security awareness risk assessment before leaving.

The internet is usually a good source of information for travel security awareness about a foreign country that you may be traveling to. However, I always teach people to gather information from a variety of websites and keep in mind how they may be slanted. is usually a good first stop in your travel security awareness research efforts.

Grady Emmons, MSc, CPP

Grady Emmons has spent his 20-year career actively involved in protective services. His experience covers everything from law enforcement to private sector protection, corporate security and business investigations. In addition to other industry certifications, he holds a Master of Science degree in Law Enforcement Intelligence from Michigan State University and he is Board Certified in Security Management by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS).

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