Violent crime is rare in the Czech Republic but theft and petty crime can occur. Find out how to avoid trouble with these tips.
Rich history, friendly people, and a welcoming atmosphere coupled with fine cuisine, culture and relaxation make it the perfect location for travellers. And with a relatively young democracy, the country has quickly moved toward a more progressive attitude, embracing their hard earned freedom. Still, as with anywhere else in the world, the threat of crime exists and travellers should be aware.
Violent crime is relatively rare, but theft and petty crime occur quite frequently. Pick-pocketing is common, particularly in crowded and touristy areas so keep your money and valuables well concealed. Another popular crime with Czech thieves is known as bag-slashing.
The criminals usually work in groups and carry sharp knives or scalpels which they use to slash open the bottom of purses or small backpacks, using their own bag to catch the contents. Or, they may simply slash the strap of the bag and take the whole thing. Always hold bags in front of you with a firm grip. You may even want to consider purchasing a bag that has reinforced straps that can't be cut.
Passport theft is another popular crime among thieves, particularly during the summer. It is not compulsory to carry it on you at all times so it's recommended that you keep it locked away safe at your accommodation. If you do become a victim of passport theft, notify the local police and your closest Embassy or Consulate immediately.
Car theft is also a problem, especially if the vehicle is shiny and new. This isn't typically a problem for tourists, however if you happen to be renting a vehicle it may affect you. Be sure to park in well-lit areas and always keep the car locked. Don't leave any valuables behind unless you'd like to tempt a thief.
There have been reported incidents of foreigners being assaulted and robbed after accepting a spiked drink from a stranger at a bar or nightclub. Follow appropriate safety precautions when dining or drinking out. Always watch your drinks being poured, keep them in your sight at all times and never accept a drink from a stranger unless you watched the bartender prepare it.
The capital city of Prague is a hotspot for petty crimes like pickpocketing and other theft related incidents, as is any area that is crowded and popular with tourists. Be particularly alert when taking any form of public transportation as the fast pace and crowded nature makes it a perfect locale for would-be thieves.
Trams 9, 22 and 23 tend to have a higher incidence of thefts.
Other common hangouts for criminals include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock and around the entrance to the Old Jewish Cemetery. Nighttime is always riskier since the cover of darkness makes it easier for criminals to get away with their crimes.
Wenceslas Square can be rough at night, although authorities have been focusing on cleaning up the location to make it safer. It's still a good idea to be extra careful if you're in that area. Similarly, the park located near the main train station is known to be a place where criminals loiter at night.
Inside the station watch out for locals offering to "help" you with luggage, tickets or taxis, as they may be up to no good and looking to rob you.
>Bars, nightclubs and restaurants, especially in the centre of Prague, are popular among thieves because they know many of the patrons will be drinking and therefore easier targets. Don't overdo it on the drinks and, of course, always keep your valuables concealed and your bags in your sight (preferably in front of you or on your lap).
Taxis can be a bit risky, although the criminal activity typically involves shady drivers charging exorbitant fares. To avoid the potential risk of catching a dodgy taxi, call for or ask the restaurant/accommodation to call for a radio taxi. If you need to hail one from the street, official taxis are yellow with a lit up TAXI sign on the roof. The drivers name and license number are displayed on the front doors. Insist on using the meter and watch your route, dishonest drivers will often take the longest route possible just to rack up the fee.
Civil unrest is pretty rare these days, but it's still important to note that even demonstrations that are intended to be peaceful can turn violent, and quickly. If you happen to come upon a group of people striking or protesting something, it's best to just avoid them.
The Czech Republic is, for the most part, a very safe place to travel. However, no place is completely crime-free so be aware of the possible risks and prepare accordingly. If you use common sense you should be able to stay out of harm's way and enjoy a safe trip.
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