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The most obvious time to be cautious is when traveling on public transport. Many of the metro stations are accessible by long escalators which give thieves the perfect view of the contents of your bag.
Numerous thefts have been reported on trains to and from Hungary, in particular at Keleti station. The most troublesome metro lines are one and three, tram lines two and four, and bus line seven.
The main tourist attractions where your belongings are likely to be nabbed are the Chain Bridge area on both sides of the Danube, and on the bridge itself, the Royal Palace Museum, Basilica, Heroes' Square, Fishermen's Bastion, and Matthias Church.
American fast food restaurants like McDonald's, Burger King and Pizza Hut are also danger zones. Pickpockets often work in groups, so, if you are approached by one or two dodgy-looking locals, there are bound to be others lurking behind you while your attention is diverted.
In Hungary, street scams are just as common as pickpocketing. One which many tourists will warn about is the 'money changer' scam. You are approached by a man asking if you would like to change your currency, you say no and think that's the end of it. A short time later a pair of plain clothed men flashing police identification will ask to see your money. Once they have finished inspecting the contents of your wallet, they will return it, but there certainly won't be the same amount you started with.
The men, who are generally not small in demeanour will often use intimidation tactics, or even question you about drugs in order to make you hand over your wallet.
Hungarian police don't deal with tourist money changing issues and generally wear uniforms. If you are approached by these men walk in the other direction, try and find a police officer patrolling the area, or tell them you would like to consult your embassy.
If you use common sense then public transport is safe and efficient, so if you can, avoid using taxis altogether. If you don't speak Hungarian you are going to be completely ripped off. Even people who do speak Hungarian but happen to have an accent because it's not their first language end up paying an obscene amount to get from A to B.
If you must catch a taxi, try not to hail one on the street, find a way to order one in advance. Only use a taxi that has a yellow licence plate and a taxi sign on the roof and the side door. Unmarked cars with only a sign on the roof can often be dodgy. Also check for a sign which should be posted on the dashboard which outlines fares.
If you are using your own vehicle to get around, you also need to be cautious of peoples' intentions. There have been a number of incidences reported by people traveling on the motorways.
Your car will be flagged down by someone alerting you to a flat tire or smoke coming from the hood. When you pull over to inspect the possible problem, the scammers will steal your belongings and maybe even the car itself.
This kind of scam can happen at rest stops and petrol stations too. People resting in their car will be awoken by someone telling them they have a flat tire. The scammer may have actually slashed your tire himself. Again, when you go to check out the problem your unattended belongs will be stolen, or if you have left your keys in the ignition, say goodbye to your car.
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