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Crime Mitigation and Response

  • Practice situational awareness.
  • Lower your profile. It can be assumed that any major tourist zone, be it Plaza del Sol in Madrid or Times Square in New York, has someone looking to pick a pocket or snatch a bag of an unsuspecting traveler.
    • Thieves target those who call attention to themselves or are aloof or distracted. Seek to blend in, speak the local language and keep your awareness high when gathering for a classic O-H-I-O photo op.
    • Thieves also target those are perceived to be wealthy. Seek to minimize displays of cash, jewelry, phones or other indicators of wealth.
  • Always read the “safety and security” information on the U.S. Department of State country information page. It often has information on prevalent scams, local hot spots for petty crime and guides to ATM usage.
  • Break down your funds. It is advisable to carry larger amounts of cash, credit cards, passport and phones in an internal pocket or money belt. Money belts can be cumbersome, so it advisable to have a separate wallet in a front pocket or purse with spending cash, transit cards, etc. This is easily accessible, and if targeted by a pick-pocket or mugger it provides a resource to give without losing all valuables.
  • In a foreign context, you should assume an assailant is irrational and potentially carrying a weapon, thus do not resist and comply with demands to hand over a wallet or purse. Dollars, Euros, Pesos can be replaced and credit cards can be canceled; they are not worth risking violence over.
  • If planning to sleep in hostels, overnight trains or other shared spaces, you should travel with luggage locks and other resources to securely store your valuables.
  • Avoid or moderate the use of alcohol. Do not accept drinks from people you do not know or trust; do not leave a drink unattended; stop drinking if there are sudden changes to the way your body feels.
  • Know your international contact numbers for banks and credit cards, in order to immediately cancel lost or stolen debit and credit cards. Maintain separate copies of all of your important documents including passport, insurance card, and prescriptions in order to expedite the replacement process.

If a crime has occurred abroad, please consult the victims of crime abroad section of the emergencies abroad section. If the crime abroad is related to sexual violence, please consult the sexual misconduct abroad in the traveler safety section for survivor support resources.