- This article describes how a traveller can avoid being a victim of crime. See Wikivoyage:Illegal activities policy for guidelines on how to write about crimes that a traveller might commit. See authority trouble and diplomacy for how to handle being accused of crimes while abroad. See history of justice for crime-related attractions.
In most populated areas, visitors risk becoming the victim of crime.
Travellers pose a high risk for theft and other property crime, since criminals exploit their ignorance, confusion, and need to bring valuables.
Types of crime
- Pickpockets often target travellers.
- Common scams; scams and confidence tricks can be very elaborate. In some cases, they are legal by the letter of the law, or might deceive the victim to commit a crime themselves.
- Robbery can be a traumatic experience.
- Burglary and theft may take place at the hotel room, or wherever the traveller sleeps.
- Molestation might happen in crowded places such as nightlife and public transportation. Prevalence and reactions to molestation can depend on cultural factors.
- Physical violence may be directed against various categories of travellers; hate crime might target LGBT travellers in some regions, and people of a certain religion or ethnicity in other places. Though most victims of street violence are young men, women are at higher risk for certain crimes, from purse snatching to sexual assault.
- Vandalism might damage vehicles or other property.
Several bits of common sense may help you stay out of trouble:
- Research into your destination, its general layout, and crime risks typical to the destinations.
- Get information about ethnic and racial conflicts at your destination. Ethnic tension, racism and cultural clashes in general can provoke brawls, vandalism or other crime. In high-tension areas (such as war zones) or places with recent ethnic violence, locals might view strangers with suspicion; visitors can become victims just for being perceived to belong to, or fraternize with, an "enemy" ethnic group (or even a rival city).
- Nationality set aside, the local population's attitude to tourists can vary a lot. Isolated communities might be overly curious about outside visitors enough to be a nuisance. In other communities, the attitude to tourists can be outright hostile.
- Some destinations are infamous for hate crimes against homosexuals, transgender people, or any person perceived to belong to a sexual minority. See also LGBT travel.
- Don't carry unnecessary amounts of cash or expensive items. If you travel to high-risk areas, leave expensive watches and jewelry back home, and only bring electronic equipment that you can afford to lose.
- If you have travelling companions, keep each other informed of your plans.
- Follow headline news to get informed about general events at your destination.
- In high-risk areas, try not to expose yourself as a visitor. Lose the string of cameras around your neck, dress and act as the locals do, without typical "tourist" accessories, such as souvenir shirts, system cameras, maps or backpacks. Not only does this reduce crime risk; it also makes fraternization with locals easier.
- A car with foreign license plates, rental car logos, loads of baggage, or other signs that it is not driven by locals, might attract criminals. If you can, keep luggage in a non visible compartment.
- A laptop with lots of stickers plastered on the back can not only be a dead givaway that you're a foreigner if the language is different, laptops with stickers related to software development or your company can make you a target for industrial espionage. Be weary of evil maid attacks.
- Alcohol and other drugs affect your judgment, and should be indulged in only among people you have good reason to trust. Never consume a drink that you have left unattended.
- Some high-risk places are low-income countries, low-income neighbourhoods, touristed areas, transportation hubs (rail stations, airports, etc) and nightlife districts. Places open to the public (landside area of airports, outside metro gates, etc) tend to be less safe than places with restricted access.
- Avoid anyone begging, particularly if they're using children to beg on their behalf.
- Avoid people who loiter around in a public place, without any legitimate purpose to be there.
- Being in any situation where you are among a group of strangers who all know one another but not you gives them a great deal of power over you.
- Be wary of attractive-looking strangers trying to raise your sexual emotions; including strippers or prostitutes.
- Crowded and/or noisy events such as festivals, markets, sport events and street performances are hotspots for pickpocketing and brawls. Some performances are set up as part of a criminal scheme.
- Nightfall; though city streets are usually well-lit at night, the absence of honest witnesses and security personnel increases the risk of crime. Office districts might get deserted as early as 5 PM.
- Deserted in the Daytime; If you enter an area of town that's completely deserted when nearby neighborhoods are bustling with activity, it could be a sign that locals don't feel it's a safe area. A lack of witnesses can make this just as dangerous as a street at night.
- You are not required to be polite or friendly to anyone who refuses to leave you alone when you request it.
- Nor are you required to answer getting-to-know-you questions from random people. These may just be friendly locals, but they might also be scammers looking for information useful to them.
- Use local language to shout out words such as "help!" or "thief!"
- Alcoholic beverages make people more violent, and easier targets for criminals
- Begging might be criminalized in itself, or organized in illegal manner
- Gambling might be illegal in itself, but even legal gambling venues might attract crime
- Travel insurance
- War zone safety