Friday, July 11, 2014

How careful should you be going to Slovakia

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The Slovak Republic has a “Medium” rate of crime. Crimes against individuals remains a concern as criminals enjoy a relatively permissive operating environment.

Westerners, especially short-term visitors such as tourists and students, are the primary targets of street crime. The majority of street crime is non-violent and includes petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and purse/cellular telephone snatching. However, more serious crimes such as mugging, armed robbery, shooting, drugging, and robbing of  unsuspecting victims at nightspots and bars is also a concern.

Pick-pockets may seem harmless, but they are professionals. They generally use distraction to confuse their target while they pick their pockets. Pickpockets  prefer busy locations such as shopping centers, markets, public transportation, tourist areas such as Old Town, near major hotels, and on the night trains to Prague and Warsaw - where travelers let their guard down and become victims.

Purse snatching does occur in Bratislava. Purse snatchers typically work in crowded areas, allowing them to cut straps of purses and run away in the crowd. Be especially careful with mopeds that might sneak up behind you while you are crossing the street. If you are out strolling, I recommend you put the strap over your head and across you body so that you can hold the bag tightly between your arm and your body. Also, don't be casual about your bag, phone, wallet or other valuables. Placing them on the table or in a jacket hung on a chair are open invitations to snatcher. Credit card, Internet, and ATM fraud are also increasing.

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Non-Caucasians might also be targeted by  Skinhead groups and suffer from 
hate crimes. Skinheads also target members of the Roma (Gypsy) minority.

Theft from autos occurs with valuables in the car while driving or parked and some auto theft of high-end European and American vehicles. Valuables should never be left in a vehicle. If you are driving in the area,  utilize a garage or a lighted parking area on the street. While driving, lock all doors, wear seat belts, and open windows only as far as needed for ventilation.

Theft of high-end European and American cars occurs and is usually linked to organized crime.

Finally, if you are driving, be aware of Slovakia zero tolerance to "Driving Under the Influence".  The legal limit is 0%. So if you are going to a party, having drinks over dinner, or any similar activities, have the concierge arrange for transportation.

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