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With tourism comes opportunities for crims to make a quick dollar by stealing your stuff. While Tanzania isn‘t as bad as some other African countries, it still pays to be alert and take steps to protect yourself and belongings as you would traveling anywhere else.
Pickpockets and con artists operate in crowded markets and transport hubs. Keep your valuables secure and well hidden.
Don't be fooled by the playfulness of small children; they may have been forced into a life of crime and may be there to distract you.
When you visit the beach, only take what you need with you. Leave your valuables locked up back at your accommodation.
Most robberies are ‘snatch and run‘. Thieves wait for the opportunity to grab something and then disappear into the crowd.
Never carry anything of value in your pockets and don't dangle expensive camera equipment from your neck. Never leave bags unattended.
The golden rule – don‘t try and be a hero in dangerous situations. Things can be replaced, but you can't.
Violent crime against foreigners is not uncommon, particularly those walking alone at night.
Only use registered taxis or those from established taxi zones or booked in advance. Also, avoid walking alone near the beach.
Take care when in Dar es Salaam, particularly on Toure Drive, as carjackings and muggings have occurred. People have also been mugged while taking an early morning jog in Mwanza city center.
Never accept food, drinks or cigarettes from strangers; there have been reports of tourists being drugged with laced candy while on long-haul bus trips, only to wake up later to find their luggage gone.
Tourists have also been kidnapped, robbed and forced, with the threat of violence, to withdraw cash from ATMs in Dar Es Salaam. Even though all the victims were released (a classic example of express kidnapping) all were shaken by the threat of violence, and some were assaulted.
Police are poorly paid – many make less than $40/month – so you may be solicited for a bribe by an official willing to turn a blind eye to your infraction, fabricated or otherwise.
'On-the-spot-fine' is one term used for a bribe; those words are meant to initiate a conversation about money. If you don't want to participate in bribery offer to go to the police station to pay the fine – sometimes that can get you off the hook, especially if their supervisors are in the vicinity. Don't hand over any papers or important documents unless you really need to.
Fraudsters are known to impersonate police, sometimes in the guise of an "immigration official" who identifies a problem with your documents. They will flash official-looking papers at you. Ask them to explain the situation clearly and for their official ID. If you are dealing with someone in uniform, they are almost certainly an actual officer, so don‘t question them too hard.
The worst of all situations is when a bone fide police officer oversteps the mark. Tanzanian police have an unfortunate reputation for being some of the most corrupt in East Africa. Some have been known to be drunk on the job and may become threatening. A night in a local jail is not worth a few bucks in bribes.
There have also been reports of police pulling over taxis carrying tourists in Dar es Salaam asking for bribes. Always remain calm, be polite and leave it to the taxi driver to handle the situation.
Involve other people – fraudsters or corrupt officials are unlikely to carry out their schemes in front of an audience.
Ask a local for a translation of the situation – this could put the scammer off getting money out of you. Always ask to see an official government ID.
Suggest you both go to your country's embassy to have an official translate the conversation for you – tt this point, the scammer will usually have a look of horror on their face.
Tanzanians are very polite people, so they won‘t normally ask directly for things. So playing dumb is often a good way to get out of a bribe.
Tell them you've only just arrived in the country, even if it's your 100th visit. If you know some Kiswahili, keep that to yourself. While this won‘t work every time, it will make them question whether they want to go ahead with the scam and hopefully the hassle of trying to communicate with you may deter them.
Tip: Split your money up into smaller amounts, that way if you have no other choice but to pay a bribe, the scammer won't see all of your money.
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Like many other countries, touting and bartering are a way of life in Tanzania. Find out how to hold your ground and barter with the locals with these tips.
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