Best Practices for Avoiding Street Crime


Street crime is a risk factor in every global location and is the most common threat faced by travelers in urban environments. These crimes are often opportunistic in nature and thieves are generally more likely to target individuals who are less familiar with their surroundings or appear to be carrying high-value items. There are a number of basic preventative measures that travelers can observe to both reduce the likelihood of being targeted and prevent perpetrators from successfully conducting a crime.

Pick-pocketing and Item Lifting


Pick-pocketing is the most commonly reported street-level incident and usually involves a criminal ‘lifting’ a valuable item such as a wallet, mobile phone or jewelry from a pedestrian without drawing their attention. This can be conducted whilst passing-by on the street or when the victim is stationary. Perpetrators may seek to distract the target, often with the help of an accomplice, whilst their item is stolen.
  • Valuable items should be concealed from view and stored in a secure place on your person that is not easily accessible, such as an inside pocket.
  • Travelers should remain attentive whilst using a mobile phone and should avoid walking around with their attention fixed on their device.
  • Pedestrians should remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. They should be mindful that items such as hoods, umbrellas and headphones which affect levels of perception and awareness.

Violent Robbery and Mugging


Thieves may occasionally resort to violent means in order to gain access to a victim’s valuables, through threatening them to give them up or forcefully seizing items. These instances are more likely to occur at night and when a victim is alone.
  • Travelers should look confident and walk with purpose when in an unfamiliar environment. They should also avoid looking down at a map for extended periods of time whilst in the street, as this demonstrates that they are unfamiliar with the location.
  • It is always safer to travel as a group and pedestrians should avoid walking alone in unfamiliar environments, particularly at night.
  • In towns and cities, travelers should try and follow routes that are generally busy, have CCTV and are well lit.
  • If threatened, travelers should give up their items freely and should not attempt to resist.
  • Travelers should consider carrying a throw (a fake wallet complete with an old, non-functioning credit card and some cash) which can be handed over instead of their true valuables, if threatened.

Credit Card Fraud and ATM ‘Skimming’


Criminals can tamper with automatic teller machines (ATMs) in the street so that a victim’s card details are stolen when they attempt to withdraw cash. Thieves may use hidden copying and reading devices to ‘clone’ payment cards, and hidden cameras to record a PIN number.
  • Travelers should only use ATMs operated by reputable companies in secure locations. The most reliable machines tend to be located inside bank lobbies where they are overseen by staff.
  • Any ATM that looks suspicious (has obvious damage, signs of tampering, added elements) should be avoided.
  • Travelers should always shield their pin from view with one hand.

Vehicle-Borne Robbery


Thieves may use small vehicles like mopeds and scooters to pass-by unsuspecting pedestrians quickly and snatch their valuables. Crimes of this nature have become more common in recent years, especially in Western Europe, and can lead to serious injury.
  • Where possible and safe, pedestrians should seek to walk against the flow of traffic so that passing vehicles are coming towards them. This makes it more difficult for thieves on motorbikes to ride up from behind and take a victim by surprise.
  • They should also walk away from the curb side, putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the road.
  • Pedestrians should keep valuable items securely on their person and avoid holding mobile phones out in front of their body where they are vulnerable to being snatched.



Criminals may be motivated to physically attack travelers for a variety of different reasons ranging from discrimination against protected characteristics such as race, sexuality and religion, to accidental incitement and sexual assault. Although such crimes are usually rare, the risk to personal health and well-being is far greater than the other aforementioned risks.
  • Travelers should research their chosen location prior to travel and seek to avoid known high-crime areas.
  • They should also be aware of cultural sensitivities and areas of public contention and seek to avoid any discussion or symbolic reference to these topics.
  • Most assaults and violent incidents occur when victims are intoxicated as consumption of alcohol and drugs reduces reaction times and inhibitions, making it harder to respond to a threat and assess risks.
  • Travelers should act confidently; be polite, but firm when dealing with unwelcome approaches.

In case of a travel emergency, make sure to download the Global Travel Plus Mobile App. With just a tap of a button, you can be connected to our 24/7 Operations Team. The app also includes many features that may be helpful during your travels such as Pre-Trip Information, U.S. Pharmacy Locator, and Global Embassy Locator.
Posted: 8/9/2019 9:00:00 AM