Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How careful should you be going to Greece

Travelers should be concerned with petty crimes directed tourist as well as violent crime which could break out anywhere. While once one of the safest destination in Europe, Greece is now faced with desperate citizens no longer able to get services from their government and Albanian criminals who cross the borders carrying weapons stolen from the Albanian Army depots. The Greek Police are unable to cope with this huge increase in serious, violent crime which is mainly due to an uncontrollable tide of illegal immigrants that burden Greece socially and financial.

Tourist Precautions

You should take the usual safety precautions you would in any urban or tourist area during a visit to Greece. Crimes against tourists (such as pick-pocketing and purse-snatching) occur at popular tourist sites and on public transportation - especially the Metro - and in some shopping areas in and around Thessaloniki. If you travel by Metro, keep track of your purse/backpack/wallet at all times.

Thieves will often try to create a diversion to draw your attention away from your immediate surroundings. These diversions can include “accidentally” sneezing or spilling something on you and loudly accusing you of having bumped into them.

Thieves ride the trains in from the Athens Airport, so be especially careful when you first arrive. You may be tired and a bit disoriented and you may have just visited the ATM or exchanged money.

Be discreet when discussing plans and organizing your belongings upon your initial arrival. Always keep a close eye on your suitcase. Try to avoid standing near the doors, as thieves will often wait to strike just as the train/bus doors open and then dash onto the platform and disappear into the crowd.

Omonia, Vathi, and Kolokotroni Squares in Athens, while very close to the tourist sites, are areas with high crime rates; Glyfada Square has a significant organized crime network associated with clubs, which should be avoided if you get a “hard-sell” pitch for business. Never agree to go to a bar or club with someone you have just met on the street. Sexual assaults of U.S. citizens, including date or acquaintance rape, are not uncommon. Drink alcohol in moderation and stay in control. Never leave your drink unattended in a bar or club. Some bars and clubs serve counterfeit or homemade spirits of unknown potency.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even those widely available, along the sidewalks in Central Athens or Thessaloniki. Not only are these goods illegal to bring back into the United States, the purchase of bootlegs and “knock-offs” in Greece violates Greek law.

Avoid high crime targets

The US State department has identified Greece as a country with increasing military level violence e.g. improvised explosive, grenades,and assault rifles. US company assets have been targets as have vulnerable businesses such as kiosks. Do your best to avoid these areas.

Thank God nothing has happened to me and my family when we went, we had a great time but PLEASE be very careful and have a safe trip.

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