Friday, June 7, 2013

How careful should you be going to Poland

Crime in Poland is on the decline and the police are more prevalent and responsive than ever before. However, you should take steps to ensure your safety.

Don’t become a victim

Petty crime such as pick pocketing is known to occur and is usually directed at foreign tourists. Prime pick pocketing areas include busy tourist attractions as well as train and bus stations. Be especially careful during the tourist season and in high traffic areas. Late night trains where tired passengers often fall asleep are a favorite of pick pockets. The rules are the same everywhere.
  • Don't become alone at night in dark places
  • Don't go into isolated or poorly lit areas and don't use ATM's in poorly lit areas
  • Don't carry your wallet in the open
  • Don't carry more cash that you need that day, leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at home or in a hotel safe
  • Don't leave your belongings in airports, train stations and other highly trafficked areas 
  • Don’t buy counterfeit merchandise. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but by purchasing them you could also be breaking local law.
Be a smart traveler. Remove the temptation - visible luggage or personal items from cars when parking, especially near popular tourist sites. The American Embassy has learned of some cases where travelers discover a flat tire and someone immediately volunteers to assist. Capitalizing on the distraction, an accomplice meanwhile steals valuables from the vehicle.

The criminals are getting smarter

Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise world wide. In this silent crime you may not even know that you have been a victim until much later. The traveler can do a few things to protect themselves:
  • Be observant of your surroundings. If you are using ATM's, public computers, or even your own smart phone or tablet, look to make sure no one can observe your usernames and passwords.
  • If you are using a public computer don't get sucked in with an offer to help with the local language and always log off and shut down before leaving.
  • Don't use a debit card connected to your primary checking and savings accounts. If these are lost or stolen, your accounts can be drained. Rather, use a credit card where your exposure is only your credit line.

If you become a victim

If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. They can:
  • Replace a stolen passport;
  • Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape;
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want they will can contact family members or friends; and
  • Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
They also maintain information on their website on where to get help in child abuse situations.

US Citizens be aware

Recently, two American teens were accosted by a young Polish men in Warsaw. These incidents happened over separate weekends, in the vicinity of the Wilanow Bus Stop, at approximately the same time of the evening. Luckily, during both incidents no one was seriously hurt. The local police are aware of the crimes and have promised to take appropriate measures to address this situation.

The US Embassy has the following recommendations for you to consider.

  • Avoid known criminal hang-outs such as large parking lots near closed businesses, bars, quick-marts, etc (local police report that crimes of this nature increase substantially after 10:00 P.M.).
  • Limit activities in the vicinity of the Wilanow Bus Stop in Warsaw and surrounding area. The police have identified this area as having criminal activity.
  • If you must transit an area known for criminal activity, use a mode of transportation which will limit your exposure.
  • If you are approached by a group of individuals, depart the area as quickly as possible. Do not engage the individuals in any type of confrontational behavior.
  • If you have an emergency in Poland call 112. 112 is a European Economic Community initiative to provide a one telephone number contact for ambulance services, the police, the fire service, air and sea rescue and other emergency services available within a specific country (such as mountain patrol). The 112 telephone number is designed for use in emergency situations but is reported to be unreliable in Poland. Instead, dial 997 for police, 998 to report a fire, or 999 to summon an ambulance.
  • The US Embassy in Warsaw is located at Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31. Contact options are:
    • Phone - (48)(22) 504-2000
    • Fax - (48)(22) 504-2688
    • Consular Fax - (48)(22) 627-4734 (only checked during normal business hours)
    • Website -
  • The U.S. Consulate General in Krakow is located at Ulica Stolarska 9. Contact options are:
    • Phone - (48)(12) 424-5100
    • Fax - (48)(12) 424-5103
    • After-hours emergencies only 601-483-348
  • A Consular Agency providing in Poznan is located at Ulica Paderewskiego 7. Contact options are:
    • Phone - (48)(61) 851-8516
    • Fax - (48)(61) 851-8966
Be safe!

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