Just imagine, you enter a currency exchange agency in a foreign country and step out with bucks tucked in your wallet. A stranger tries to make a conversation with you in broken English and as you walk past him, politely excusing yourself, you realise within minutes your wallet is gone! Now that was your “damn it” moment on a foreign land, leaving you completely hapless. Beware! Crimes involving travellers is one of the concerning issues for both foreign and domestic tourism. If you thought only some infamous destinations of Asia, Africa and Latin America have the lurking danger of crime, you are totally mistaken. It’s only a myth that the most-advanced countries of the world are safe heavens. There are instances of tourists being caught off guard even in the least-suspecting cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Westminster!
Now does that mean you should travel lesser? Nope, it only means you gotta be more alert each time you travel. iTraveller takes a lowdown on some crimes targeted at tourists.
Beware of Pickpocketing Gangs
Location : Paris – Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Château de Versailles
Dublin – Christ Church, the Guinness brewery, Heuston Station, St Stephen’s Green and the Grafton Street area
Florence, Pisa, Livorno to Florence trains
Notorious street crooks
Location: Barcelona – Las Ramblas – Plaza Catalunya, Barrio Gotico, Carrer Montcada, Carrer de la Princesa, Mercat Santa Caterina
Chain-snatchers & Pickpocketing individuals and gangs
Location: India – Public transport, crowded places
Location: London – Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street
While the gypsy gangs target Asian tourists as they usually carry cash, the Chilean gangs go after wealthy tourists such as Arab travellers.
Flower trick: Beware of a stranger woman approaching you with flower, using it just as an excuse to get her hand on your pocket
Pigeon Poo tricks: One sprays milk or paint and the other in the gang apologizes and ‘cleans up’ the mess, and your pocket!
The camera you never broke! Someone requests you click photos with his/her camera or cell phone. The device, however, doesn’t seem to work. When you hand it back, the person drops it deliberately. When you are distracted by what happened, his/her partner has stolen your wallet.
Distraction: One member bumps into or distracts tourists while the other does his/her ‘job’.
Con artists: Con artist or confidence artist gain your confidence to get their hands on your money.
Money, money: Each time cash is handled or changes hands, pickpocketers are waiting for the right moment.
Caught in crowded: Pickpocketers always thrive on crowded places.
Watch Out for Mugging/Armed Thefts/Kidnapping
- Super buff women gangs
Location: Hong Kong – red-light areas
- Rio grenade gang
Location: Rio de Janeiro
- Vicious Prostitutes gangs
Location: Mallorca – Playa de Palma, Magaluf and s’Arenal
The vicious prostitute gangs in Mallorca use an electric Taser to attack unsuspecting men.
May I help you: Many thieves initially pose as helpful locals or people in distress and later show their true colour!
Many armed thieves use rifles to rob tourists at gun point in secluded spots.
Say No to Drugs Even When Travelling
- Drug dens in Goa, India
- Drug bosses in Bali, Indonesia
- Drug tourism in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Known as India’s ‘cocaine coast’, Goa is one destination in India where tourism and drug-trafficking are so entwined that every other foreign tourist is presumed to be a potential drug seeker. Many tourists narrate instances of how easily they have been approached and offered drugs. The southernmost parts of the Bali are also infamous for drug trafficking, especially cities such as Denpasar, Gianyar and Kuta. When travelling to these places, be vigilant and strictly refuse any advances from drug peddlers.
Interestingly, Amsterdam is a celebrated destination for drug tourists. And this is primarily because the Dutch have no qualms in using or possessing cannabis. Besides, the legislation with regard to the sale, possession, and use of drugs varies from one jurisdiction to another. So when travelling in Amsterdam, avoid suspicious coffee shops.
Have a Safe Bali holiday trip with iTraveller
Red Alert – Heinous Crimes
- Gang rape of American tourist in India
- Brutal killings of British tourists in Thailand
- American tourist sexually assaulted at Bogota, Columbia
When headlines such as these flash newspapers and TV channels, you know it’s not just about petty crimes such as pickpocketing and cheating but darker than that. Women’s safety, for example, is a global concern and travellers and tourists are no exceptions.
Instances of cultural backlash have also been reasons for physical assault against men and women. Tourists, who are unaware of native cultural practises and etiquettes, may also end up landing themselves in trouble. The recent instance of an Australian tourist being harassed in Bangalore for sporting a tattoo of an Indian goddess on his leg is a case in point.
Safety Tips for Travellers
- Use money belt or undergarment pockets for cash and passport.
- Do not carry too many valuables and precious jewellery.
- Travel light!
- Avoid suspicious strangers and crowded places.
- Do not leave your bags and luggage unattended. Use locks for all your belongings.
- Blend into locals or at least don’t stand out.
- Prevention is better than resistance! If someone tries to rob you, do not resist because many criminals carry weapons. They are likely to use the weapons if you don’t cooperate.
- Be alert of your surroundings and escape routes.
- Do a complete homework by reading about the place of your travel.