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Old 04-07-2012, 01:01 PM   #21
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I certainly hope that is not the impression I created.
Not at all.

It's more the nature of this kind of discussion I was comenting on. It's impossible to have a thread listing travel related crime that doesn't give the impression that travel is dangerous . . . even one as well intentioned as this one. All you have to do is look at the crime threads on various travel discussion boards to get you scared enough to never leave your house.

I just wanted to point out early in the discussion that it is important to keep a proper perspective about all of this "information." For example, over the past two years I've visited about 120 different U.S. locations and watched local news in just about all of them. Judging by what I've seen on the news, you all live is some really dangerous places. If I had known that before showing up, I'd probably have stayed away.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:32 PM   #22
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... after the final "All visitors ashore" announcement, when the ship prepared to sail, the three of them were on the tender, heading into Colombo, with no passports, no motorcycle, no money.....no nuttin'.
Funny, I heard the exact same story, but it occurred in Thailand.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:33 PM   #23
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Funny, I heard the exact same story, but it occurred in Thailand.
Maybe it's a franchise?
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:40 PM   #24
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(The moral, I guess, is don't think that because you're coming from the First World that the residents of the Third World are dumb and/or in awe of your self-perceived 'status.)
No more than a hawk is in awe of the pigeon it eats.

Long ago I realized that in a foreign country, or on a city street anywhere, there is no relevant status other than who is biggest, youngest, best conected, best informed, most apt to be armed, or most apt to be on a short fuse. I give headway to anyone who wants it. It's one reason why anymore I need a lot of convincing to travel abroad- who wants to volunteer to be prey?

Ha
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:45 PM   #25
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The purse over the back of the chair is never a good idea. We fell victim to that when we were young and learned our lesson.

Around here, though, women leave their purse in their shopping carts, then browse the aisles even getting out of sight of their cart.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:46 PM   #26
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In the US, future spouse came out of Title Company into the parking garage. The same building had a bank. At her car a couple accosted her with a small silver gun and told her get in and drive while they held her at gunpoint and went through her purse. One seated behind her; one in the front passgenger seat. She had less than a dollar in change in her purse. When they found out that she had not been to the bank, they made her pull over took her keys and told her to put her head down.

... rest of the story after this commercial break....
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:58 PM   #27
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... so she complies. They get out of car and toss her keys into the grass and run away. Minutes later she has the guts to lift her and and find her keys. She drives herself back to her office and calls me.

I tell her to call the police which she is reluctant to do, but in the end she does so.

Later that night while cleaning out her car, we find a completed food stamp application amidst the junk on the floorboard of the front passenger seat. Name & address of the perps all spelled out.
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:22 PM   #28
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The title of the thread and the first post can be misleading about the hazards one might face visiting Europe.

I've been going to Europe for about 20 years, up to 4 times in some years, and I've never been victimized. A lot of it is due to luck, because I didn't pay attention to the precautions which you can find all over the web except in the last 5-10 years. Closest I got to getting pick pocketed was in Venice, on a vaporetto, someone managed to unzip an internal pocket under the flap of a messenger bag I had slung over my right shoulder. I forget what I had in the bag at the time but the compartment he opened only had a checkbook, which I took on my trip by mistake.

I've never used money belts, just have my wallet in a Pac Safe fanny pack (worn on the front of the left hip more for easy access and convenience than security). I have a Pac Safe wallet with a hoop and I can chain the wallet to the pack. I carry iPhone and iPod in there as well.

Key thing about crime in Europe, if you read up on the destinations you're visiting, is that it's like 99% petty theft. Rarely is there a confrontation with the threat of harm (mugging). In that respect, most big cities in Europe are safer than those in the US, though there are certainly areas you should avoid at night.

Getting your wallet and money stolen is a big hassle but it pales in comparison to getting robbed at knifepoint or worse. I use credit cards whenever possible -- you can accumulate rewards and as long as they don't impose a FTF, it's better than exchanging currency. I store my credit card info., including numbers to call from abroad (most credit cards will accept collect calls but I've dialed their regular 800 numbers) to report lost cards or cancel them.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:22 AM   #29
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I'm not sure how "the title of this thread and the first post can be misleading." To tell cautionary tales about getting ripped off while travelling--in the U.S. as well as abroad--is a useful thing. In point of fact, as a woman I feel much safer physically in much of Italy (south excluded) than I would, say, in New York City or L.A. There is little chance there of being harmed physically. As I mentioned in my earlier post, however, first-time travellers, especially from the Midwest where we're pretty naive and trusting souls (yes, women here often leave their purses in their shopping carts and stroll the isles here without keeping an eye on them as well as sling them over chair backs at restaurants) really need a lesson in street smarts in Italy because they WILL be noticed, watched, and eventually ripped off. It is a "when" and not an "if." This is certainly not to discourage anyone from travelling, but just a precautionary measure as is other travelling advice specific to a country.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:44 PM   #30
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Thanks to recent threads I’ve shared that my states visited are 50, countries (per the link to create a map which I question the total) as 32, including 4 continents (1 of which is in the barely checked off category so I’m hesitant to count it, more than the plane touching down but not much, a half day cruise visit). I would consider us seasoned travelers who are careful. Having said that, we’ve had one problem, which was in the US.

While visiting Alaska, we parked at Earthquake Park to walk to the overlook (short, 50-100 feet). Upon arrival there were several cars in the lot, and we were only going “right over there”. My wife left her purse in the car. We went a little out of sight and returned a few minutes later to an empty parking lot, save our car, which now had a busted out window and less stuff in it. We later were told this is an area where homeless people live in the woods. Moral of the story, as several have said, USE COMMON SENSE and DON’T DROP YOUR GUARD!


The “funny” part of the story is what happened after. This occurred a year or two after 9/11 when all the photo ID and screenings had been added. My wife had all of her ID and credit cards taken, everything. I still had my cash, credit cards, and driver’s license. We were at the beginning of a land trip and were going to catch a one way cruise through the inner passage, which would visit Canada. To board that cruise and eventual plane home we had brought our passports, both of which were now missing.

Question: Where was the nearest passport office?
Answer: Seattle.

How does one get there?
Either by plane or through Canada, which both require ID.

If we’d been outside the US we could go to an embassy and it would’ve been easier. But we were in the US, so no problem, right? We tried to see about getting our passports replaced, but didn’t have any success in finding a timely way to make it happen without showing up in person.

Both of our birth certificates were safely in our safety deposit box in the Midwest, which only the two of us could open. I was starting to wonder if I’d have to fly home just to get them.

We ended up ordering a new birth certificate for me and having it overnighted to a hotel. Friends with access to our house were able to get her school photo ID, and got a birth certificate for her in person (we still lived in the city where she was born). I’m good to go, she just needs to get an Alaska photo ID so she has a government issued ID, which the birth certificate and photo ID should allow for. We went to the BMV and were turned away! Now what? We went to the Federal building (?) in Anchorage to try to find out. First thing that happens? They want to see a photo ID to enter. At this point, we’ve been dealing with this for about 3 days, and have 2 more to go to the cruise. Stressful time to say the least. My wife broke down in tears at the request for the photo ID by the Alaska State Troopers. After explaining our plight and me showing ID, they let us in. We visited a couple of offices, finally ending up in then Senator Ted Stevenson’s office. He wasn’t there, but his aides were most helpful. They finally verified that we should be able to get the Alaska photo ID (like a driver’s license but without the test and driving privilege) with what we had. The lady even called the BMV to explain the rules and tell them we were on the way. We went back, were welcomed with open arms, and walked out with one of the more unique souvenirs of our travels.

To finish up, when it came to board the cruise, they opened boarding around noon with a 10 PM or so departure. We decided to show up early, just to be sure we hadn’t missed anything. This was in Seward. My original thought was we get on, leave the luggage, and walk back into town to spend some time. However, once we got on, I couldn’t pry DW’s hands off the rail! I don’t think she has ever been so relieved to get somewhere in her life!

I’ll repeat what’s been said, use your head! We let our guard down for a brief time and someone took advantage. While stressful and it cost us some $$$, it could’ve been worse. We might have had to spend more money because we missed the cruise (fully paid for and no insurance) and needed a plane ticket home.

Or, DW might have become a permanent Alaska resident, which at one point we thought would be the likely outcome!
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:05 AM   #31
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I wouldn't think of repairing my car's brakes; an auto mechanic knows a heckuva lot more than I do. Con artists, criminal, pickpockets are similarly expert at what they do, so I don't presume to know every way to beat them.
DW and I are headed to Italy for2 weeks this July, and we've already planned our preventive measures - taking limited cash outside; photocopies of our passports and driver licenses; one of those "neck wallets" [again, with limited cash inside]; 2 different credit cards, alwaysleaving one back in the hotel safe; and of course avoiding crowds/commotions, etc.
I don't expect any problems, but at least if I do get robbed my loss should be minimal.
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:59 AM   #32
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What a riveting story, Oldphd!! I am so glad that it had a happy ending.
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:02 PM   #33
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On one of my first vacations, I was on this bus tour of about 3000 miles to eastern Canada (me in my twenties, many other tour members were senior citizens ). To pass the time, the tour guide had this jar prize of coins. On one of the rest overs, upon returning, got the news that someone had broke into the bus and swiped the jar.

Other than that, luckily, no other incidents while traveling.
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:22 PM   #34
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My spouse was in Portugal with her sister before cell phone days. A purse was stolen with their plane tickets. The tickets had been purchased from a ticket consolidator for cash.

When my spouse was able to phone me with the news, she asked me to get her tickets re-issued. When I called the airline, they said the travel agent had to re-issue the tickets. When I called the consolidator, they said, "Oh no! You are not supposed to have your tickets stolen. We cannot re-issue the tickets."

So I made a conference call: I called the airline and said that I would get the travel agent on the phone. Then I called the ticket consolidator and said, "I have the airline on the phone, please give them the information so that these tickets can be re-issued." The consolidator was audibly pissed, but more civil than our previous phone conversation. He had to play along until the last thing was needed where he claimed he did not have the number or code or whatever. The airline rep said, "No problem, just call me back with that number and I will get these tickets re-issued" and hung up.

With only the consolidator on the phone, he cursed me and said to never ever do that again. I just had to laugh.

Anyways, I did not tell my wife about this. I simply told her, "When you get to the airport, you have to pay the $50 fee for lost tickets and they will give you new tickets. Don't worry about it." I figured the less she knew, the more truthfully indignant she would be at the ticket counter if there was still a snafu. When she got to the airport for the flight home, the airline agent didn't know about the missing code or number and just re-issued the tickets.

Only after my wife got home did I tell her about the conference call.
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:32 PM   #35
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No more than a hawk is in awe of the pigeon it eats.

Long ago I realized that in a foreign country, or on a city street anywhere, there is no relevant status other than who is biggest, youngest, best conected, best informed, most apt to be armed, or most apt to be on a short fuse. I give headway to anyone who wants it. It's one reason why anymore I need a lot of convincing to travel abroad- who wants to volunteer to be prey?

Ha
Hmmm. This bears thinking about.
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:50 PM   #36
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Hmmm. This bears thinking about.
Nah. I thought about it, but I guess I don't spend a whole lot of time imagining myself as a victim, of crime or life, or whatever.

The month we spent in Peru was completely without theft drama of any kind, unless you count the Peru Rail folks not giving me my $120 back for the tickets I couldn't use because of airline delays. Not even any bribes to the police.

We did have a friend get stabbed in Mancora Beach, a few days after we'd left. He was jumped by a kid when leaving a club (alone) late at night. It was just bad luck, the way he told it, but in that typical Brit way, he was rather blase about the whole thing, and just mad that he couldn't surf with the stitches from the stab wound in his shoulder!
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Old 04-09-2012, 03:19 PM   #37
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Our mishap was in Barcelona on the last full day of sighseeing before ending a 17 day adventure. For the first time on the trip we stopped at a chain restaurant (McDonalds), which was across the street from the Sagrada Familia cathederal in a very touristy part of the city.

There were six of us at the table and I had my backpack on the floor with my leg thru the strap. My children needed a bathroom break and I slid the bag off and left it in the pile of bags being held by the three other adults. As the kids and I were walking back to the table an American college-age woman was very upset about a stolen purse, and I immediately remembered my bag. I could tell before I reached the table that the backpack was gone and the three adults hadn't noticed a thing.

Luckily all of our passports, credit cards, and large cash bills were secure in my SafePac pouch, but I managed to lose 17 days of memories on the camcorder, cell phone, iPod music player, and about 10 euros in small bills/change. The worst item to lose was a journal being kept my oldest child about their trip experiences.

I think being in a familar setting (McDonalds) allowed me to let down my petty theft guard for a few minutes. Luckily it was a non-violent crime and our kids learned a valuable lesson about safeguarding items no matter where we are visiting.
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:23 PM   #38
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In Colombia we were warned about, (among other things), one particular 'trick': If you were on a bus stalled in traffic it was best not to rest your (generally right) arm on the open window, lest someone came up alongside you and burned the arm with a cigarette.......thus causing you to respond by immediately bringing over your left arm in an "ouch" reaction......and probably losing your wristwatch to the burner.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:32 PM   #39
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I would go to Mexico a lot before I moved 30 miles from the border, now I go even more. Years ago I bought a small passport size dry sack with a cord to go around your neck. Sea kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, rain, never lost anything or ruined stuff. In Costa Rica I just put all my junk in and carried it under my shirt, was helpful in the rainforest, and kept thing safe.
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:43 PM   #40
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I had an interesting experience once in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I want to emphasize that I am not recommending that anyone try this. Anyway, I must have had rocks in my head because I went alone for a vacation there. I was staying in a nice neighborhood, but most of San Juan is a hellhole. On the first day I walk down the hill to the main street to have dinner alone in a restaurant. Night falls quickly there and when I leave I am not pleased that it is now fully dark and I face a long hike up the hill to my pension. Walking on the busy main street I turned to notice a couple of teenaged kids obviously stalking me. They were probably 18 years old. I instantly decided that my best odds were to up the ante. So, glowering with rage I turned and headed right toward them locking eye contact. One of them wanted to go for it, but not the other guy so they walked away. Since I am by no means a fighter type they would have had little trouble with me, but as in many predator/prey situations the predator doesn't want any risk of injury even if the actual outcome is not in doubt.

Anyway, I was glad it worked in that situation.
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