Threat of Crime in Chile

By , Travel Insights Editor Chile travel-crime

Stretching some 4,300 km and covering virtually every form of natural wonder, from deserts and beaches to volcanoes and glaciers, Chile offers some of the most amazing travel experiences on earth.

Sightseeing, adventure sports, relaxation and friendly welcoming people all await, making up just a small part of what Chile is all about and what's to be discovered there. But while this beautiful country is a relatively safe place to visit, the threat of crime does still exist. Here are a few things to consider for a safe trip.

Petty Crime

Chile is no different than any other travel destination that tourists frequent in that petty thefts like pickpocketing and bag snatching is an ongoing concern. Crowded places such as shops, restaurants and public transportation hubs are all hot spots for petty crime.

The Las Condes, Providencia and Vitacura areas of Santiago are notoriously frequented by thieves. Additional areas to be cautious in include Cerro San Cristobal, Cerro Manquehue, Cerro Santa Lucia and the Lake District. Before you head out on the town, take appropriate precautions to avoid becoming a victim; don't flash your cash, keep valuables well concealed and always be aware of your surroundings. 

Luggage and bag theft is also a growing problem in Chile, especially up north in San Pedro and near the Atacama Desert. The Pucon and Villarrica areas of the Lake District have also seen an increase in criminal activity, particularly theft.

Travelers are advised to never leave their baggage unattended in public transportation hubs and to avoid storing them in overhead compartments during travel. When moving throughout the country, if you have your bags with you do not let them out of your sight.

More Dangerous Threats

While violent crime is thankfully quite rare in Chile, there have been recent reports of daylight muggings occurring in the Cerro Santa Lucia, Cerro San Cristobal Park, and Cerro Manquehue areas of Santiago.

These muggings are particularly dangerous because they are often carried out by armed groups, making the threat of violence much more likely. Visiting places off the beaten path at night is not advised, and travel within the busier areas should be done in the safety of groups.

If you plan on using a taxi service after dark, it's advised that you book one in advance. Hailing one on the street may be dangerous.

Chile has its share of bars and nightclubs offering an exciting nightlife experience for visitors. If you plan on drinking, however, keep in mind that reports of drink spiking have been on the rise.

The Santiago locations of Suecia and Bellavista are particularly dangerous for this type of activity. Victims are given drinks laced with a drug meant to render them unconscious, making them susceptible to robbery, assault or worse. Don't accept drinks from anyone you don't know, and always keep your beverage in your sight at all times.

Protests and Demonstrations

Large demonstrations and protests arise occasionally in Chile, and while most of them are carried out peacefully, they all present a certain level of danger of possible violence due to their political nature.

Clashes between rebels and the Chilean government can often become violent and quickly. Additionally, terrorist groups have been known to detonate explosive devices at these large gatherings as well as busy pedestrian areas, particularly in locations throughout Santiago. Over the past several years there have been multiple bombings that have resulted in innocent bystanders being severely injured. 

If you happen upon a protest or demonstration, you are advised to steer clear of it. Additionally, although terrorist acts such as bombings cannot easily be anticipated, you can lessen the chances of becoming a victim by monitoring local news reports and government warnings and by understanding the political climate of the areas you're planning to visit prior to and during your trip. This will help you determine what areas to avoid while you are there so you can stay out of harm's way.

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