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Crime & Hassles


Crime

Where ever you travel in the world from Europe to South America it is a sad fact that you have to be on your guard against crime. Obviously in some parts of the world and certain areas of countries you are more likely to become a victim than others. However you should try and use the same precautions everywhere.

Travelling

When you're moving from one place to another and you have all your possessions with you the potential to lose everything is obviously greater.

Staying in One Place

When your in staying in accommodation then there are different factors you need to take in to account. In many cases its more difficult to keep your eye on your stuff as you'll want to leave it behind at your accommodation.


Hassles

This section looks at some of the hassles you might get when out and about and ways to help reduce the problem.

Don't be a Tourist

The simplest way to avoid unwanted attention is to look like you live locally. Related to this section is the Travellers Responsibilities page.

Putting off the Hustlers

In a lot of countries you will find hustlers who will usually try and drag you off to there brothers shop or show you some sight. This is a real problem in tourist areas but you may well come across the problem else where.

The first thing is 'Don't be a tourist'. Even if you have done all the above you will probably still stand out from the locals and be targeted. The usual way for them to pick you up is simply by calling out 'Hello!'. If you turn or show any sign of acknowledgment then they have hooked you. Therefore the first thing is to learn to keep on walking and not to give anything away when some is called out to you (not as easy as you may think). Especially in tourist areas you will find that they may run through different languages and try funny phrases to get you to show some recognition.

Often they will come up and walk beside you trying to get you to talk, maybe offer to show you the market or something. Be firm say you know where you are going, you do not need a guide and keep walking. If they persist cross the road the busier the better and walk in the opposite way to where they are trying to take you. You could go into a shop or restaurant and if you are followed make it clear to the owner that the person is not with you and is preventing you from buying something. Usually by avoiding getting into a conversation, keeping walking and using some of the ploys mentioned above you will find they lose interest. If you let them walk beside you they will automatically stay there and even if they don't show you anything will usually demand payment for their services. It is important to be polite and not to swear at them. Although this may sound easy it takes a few years of practise to avoid 99% of the hustlers. A final warning if you are using the disappear across a busy road ploy remember to watch the traffic.

Don't Shun the Locals

Not everyone who comes up to talk to you is a hustler some will be locals simply interested in what you are doing there, they may offer to let you stay or show you their house. The difficulty is knowing where you stand. In general if you are away from tourist areas then you are less likely to be hustled. If some one talks to you on a bus or train then the chances are they are genuine. But try and note whether you sat next to them or they sat next to you if its the later then be cautious.

If you make the first approach for example ask which bus to get on and then they start talking the chances are its genuine. The are no hard and fast rules but with experience you will find you can usually tell the genuine article. Remember though if someone came up to you in your home town and offered to show you something or take you some where would you go with them?

Finally...

If you are mugged then give them what they want if you have followed the above advice it'll probably amount to nothing much.

In some countries don't go yelling after a thief. In parts of Africa the locals will probably catch him and kill him in the street I have heard a couple of instances of this happening even in cities.

Don't be put off by the above or warnings in guide books play it cool and be sensible.




K.Vans-Colina 1992-2002