1. Walking on a beach at night. This is a big no-no in Latin America. Even private beaches have been known to have crime. There have been several incidents of expats coming into contact with hoodlums even during the day on isolated beaches.
A young woman was walking alone recently on a beach in Ecuador at dusk and she was attacked by a man with a machete. She’s ok but shaken up. Source: The Globe and Mail
|This is just one secluded stretch of beach between Ayampe and Las Tunas|
3. Talking on your cell phone when no one else is nearby. Cell phones are a hot commodity in Latin America!
4. Standing real close to crowds of people on the bus or sidewalks.
5. Wearing a wallet in your back pants pocket.
6. Wearing Jewelry and expensive watches; even the cheap stuff has been known to be yanked off expats earlobes.
7. Talking in English really loud anywhere in Latin America.
8. Wearing shorts, flip flops and tank tops in the Andes Mountains. Talk about standing out.
9. Walking alone on the river walks day or night. Think about it? How often do you see a Cuencana walking alone on the river paths? When you do see one, which is rare, they usually have a dog with them. There’s a reason for that. There are lots of hiding places along the river walks for bad apples to ‘hide in wait’.
10. Standing alone at bus stops with noticeable valuables. A few days ago an expat woman got robbed at gunpoint in Cuenca Ecuador at a bus stop. This bus stop happened to be at or near a Mercado. She was displaying an expensive cell phone in an area (Mercado) where poor people shop. Two plus two folks. Some people don't have discernment.
Source:Lighthearted: Retiring at 8300'
11. Walking off the beaten paths alone. If you have to go somewhere where there are less people or no tourists, it’s best to take a registered, licensed taxi.
12. Wearing anything of value to one of the several local Mercados. Believe us, going to a local Mercado is not a formal affair; far from it; there’s no reason to even have a purse, wallet or jewelry on you. Have a about five $1 dollar coins in your pocket and you’ll be good to go.
13. Hiking alone or in pairs anywhere in Latin America. It’s a sad fact, many men and women have become victims of crimes in isolated walking trails. We think we’re going to be safe because we are hiking with a friend, but the fact that many young women are now gone from this world, tells a different story. Walking and hiking in pairs is not a guarantee you will be safe.
If hiking or traveling off the beaten path, go in big groups. The more the better.
Birds of the same feather flock together and it is almost never just one perpetrator, in fact it’s usually three or four that work together that rob, rape and pillage unsuspecting victims.
14. Living in a gringo enclave. All the people who live in a gringo enclave can be a target of crime at anytime. To the thieves, gringo neighborhoods are where the wealthy live and so they must have a lot of valuables. It always seems to stump the foreigner though how the thieves get through electric wiring, sensor lighting, a dog and alarms. Why do people keep minimizing crime in these popular countries with expats? We all know the answer to that.
15. Trusting people on the street with their sad sob stories. Many a foreigner has become conned by a crying local with a baby, or a baby thrown into their arms, or another foreigner saying they got mugged and lost everything, or a local person conning their way into their personal financials, etc...etc...etc...
16. Accepting things handed to you from strangers. Apparently they lace things with drugs so you will be unawares of what’s going on and then they rob you.
17. Waving down just any taxi on the street. Many expats have been taken for a ride when accepting any taxi. This is a no-no in Latin countries. The taxi drivers work with two or three others on the ground and so even two people together become victims. They kidnap the foreigners and make them extract money from their bank accounts at ATM. This is more popular at very touristy areas in large cities such as La Mariscal district in Quito.
18. Opening your gate to strangers. Expats are often taken advantage of in this way. The locked, barred gate is there for a reason. Most rentals have phones inside the home or apartment so you can talk with and see the person at the gate.
19. Leaving valuables (laptops, iphones, jewelry, etc) in plain sight when having service people and techs into the home.
20. Behaving rich. The rich and those who like to behave rich have always had this problem, and now that more folks are trying to "live rich" abroad, it compounds and reproduces itself exponentially.
These are the easy ways to become a target of crime. There's numerous ways we can become targets and victims of crimes in more subtle ways in Latin America but that's another article.
Until we write again, you might like to read more about ways to stay personally safe when living in Latin America.
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!