Preventing Crimes Against Tourists

Feb 1 / Dan Keller

Tourists can be vulnerable and lucrative targets for criminals because they often carry large sums of money, especially cash, credit/debit cards, and other valuables. Tourists may also be more relaxed and off-guard and therefore tend to be more careless

There are many reasons why criminals target tourists, but these are a few of the more common:

  • Tourists may be preoccupied when taking photographs, therefore not focusing on their personal belongings.
  • Tourists may be easily identified by their use of rental cars.
  • Tourists may be unfamiliar with the local language or culture, and unfamiliar with their surroundings
  • Tourists may have expensive cameras or other photographic equipment.
  • Thieves know tourists may not be willing to return to a vacation spot to give testimony, even if the thief is apprehended.

There are a number of crime prevention strategies that law enforcement or security personnel can implement to safeguard tourists and deter criminals.
  • Provide tourism crime prevention recommendations on police department and tourism websites.
  • Remove company logos from rental cars and remove special license plates.
  • Use civilian patrols and/or volunteer citizen patrols in tourist areas.
  • Provide tourism crime prevention tips on restaurant table tents or coffee cup sleeves.
  • Develop a lodging crime prevention/security e-network.
  • Provide crime prevention tips inside tourist buses.
  • Provide crime prevention tips posters for tourist sites or destinations, as well as airports.
  • Work with tourism industry to identify and address crime-related concerns.
  • Facilitate tourist victim’s testimony in criminal cases.
  • Provide hotel crime prevention tips or recommendations.
  • Develop a tourist Twitter site.

Helpful crime prevention tips for tourists include:
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash.
  • Substitute traveler’s checks or credit cards for cash.
  • Keep a written record of traveler’s checks and credit card numbers. Keep them in a safe place.
  • Make two photocopies of your passport before leaving home. Leave one copy at home and keep the second copy with you in a safe location.
  • When traveling, never leave your luggage unattended, even for only a brief moment, and beware of distractions.
  • If you are jostled, bumped, or crowded by anyone, be aware of a possible pickpocket. Pickpockets often stage distractions.
  • Put your name, address, and telephone numbers inside and outside each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags.
  • Take only taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.
  • Avoid transferring items of value to the trunk of your vehicle at the location where it is parked.


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