Crime Mitigation Strategies

Many crimes are a factor of three elements: Desire, Ability and Opportunity. By minimizing Opportunity through the employ of good crime mitigation strategies in conjunction with situational awareness, travelers can help promote their own personal safety and welfare while abroad.

In many destinations, foreigners are assumed to be wealthy (Desire) and may pose a prime target for petty theft.  In addition to maintaining situational awareness, a good way to minimize your risk of theft is by avoiding public displays of wealth. Leave valuables at home, especially if you do not need them.  A simple wristwatch can easily function in lieu of a smartwatch for the purposes of telling time. Similarly, designer luggage may be a cue for opportunistic baggage handlers, taxi drivers or others targeting foreign arrivals at airports. Employ Situational Awareness and be cognizant of your belongings at all times.

Also employ security measures when using ATMs. Criminals often target individuals using ATMs to withdraw funds, tamper with ATMs to receive information from ATM users or, in some countries, target the physical ATM machines themselves.  It is best to use ATMs in secure locations and always take precautions to prevent others from viewing PIN numbers or other important information. 

Separate your documents and keep duplicates of important paperwork, such as a photocopy of your passport and visa (if applicable). Leave a copy of your credit or debit card information with someone you trust at home in the event that you lose your cards and need to cancel them.  Similarly, keep cash, credit cards or transit cards in separate locations. If your hotel has a safe, use it to store valuables during the day while you are out and only take what you anticipate needing. 

Phone case wallets, while popular and convenient, are not well suited for use while traveling abroad.  Smartphones are very popular targets for thieves, and it is common in metro areas in some countries for individuals on mopeds to target exits or entrances to subways or other metro stations for individuals using these devices whilst emerging for drive-by grab-and-go opportunities.

It is recommended to have a small wallet for day-to-day use for storing small amounts of cash and which can act as a “mugger’s wallet” in the event that you are approached by an assailant.  If approached by an assailant, do not assume that the individual is unarmed or rational; instead, comply with demands to hand over a bag or wallet. Do not resist or attempt to fight back. Items can be replaced and credit cards canceled; they are not worth the risk to your safety.