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The Australian government added a warning for travelers sleeping on the train from Prague to Vienna. The Smartraveller site says there's been an increase in the number of incidents where pockets and bags have been slashed open - and passports and wallets have been taken.
Any area that attracts a high number of visitors attracts local pickpockets whose quick sleight of hand and distraction techniques could see a traveler robbed of their wallet or passport.
So, before you even leave the hostel/hotel, leave valuables (including your passport) and large amounts of cash in the safe or ask reception how it can be secured. Austria's major cities are modern, highly law-abiding and safe - it would be unlikely a hotel reception would steal the valuables you ask them to keep.
While the capital Vienna's ring road is dominated by stunning Baroque architecture, lush green lawns, beautifully kept museums and music halls, there are areas where extra precautions should be taken.
The ring road, called Ringstrasse, circles the CBD, known to the Viennese as the"Innere Stadt" (1st District). It is here that many of this historic city's landmarks are found including the Hofburg, the former Habsburg palace that houses the National Library, the Spanish Riding School, and six museums. Most of the traffic in this area is pedestrian and can heave with numbers in the peak tourist months between May and August. Similarly near the famed St Stephens Cathedral and the city's largest train stations.
Other areas that can attract pickpockets and con artists include the busy square Karlsplatz in Wieden (4th District) where tourists flock to see the domed church Karlskirche in the daytime that becomes a haven for drug addicts at night. The Prater is a family oriented amusement park area that can be frequented by opportunistic criminals. Along the popular shopping strip Mariahilferstrasse, in the 6th District, is dicey in the evenings and while the Flohmarkt (flea market) here is dynamic and packed each Saturday, it can attract a seedy element.
Likewise in Salzburg's Getreidegasse, a shopping strip where Mozart's house is located.
In areas like this be wary of "bumping". It's a ploy used by pickpockets to divert attention and get close enough to swipe your wallet. The general advice is if you are bumped or pushed in a crowd, turn around immediately and see who the culprit is. And, in a crowd, always keep a tight hold of your bag, preferably in front of your body, or your wallet if it's in a pocket. Bum bags should be avoided.
And be wary of people claiming to be "plain-clothes police", particularly in the city center area of Innere Stadt. Demand to see their police badge or other identification to verify that they are cops, and don't give them anything (e.g. your passport or wallet) until they prove who they are.
Be careful of con artists as well the standard unseen pickpockets. Some of the ploys include strangers asking for help or "accidentally" staining your clothes to distract you.
If your card gets stuck in an ATM (every traveler's nightmare!) be especially cautious of people who suddenly rush to your aid with offers of help, asking for your PIN to get the card out. Obviously, don't give it to them.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have been robbed, call the police in Vienna on 133. While German is the preferred language, you'll find most Austrians speak impeccable English, as well as about three other European languages.
There are a few simple precautions you can take before booking and paying for accommodation in Austria online:
If you are not sure, visit The Apartment Owners and Rental Association of Vienna official website that lists legitimate accommodation in various parts of Vienna: www.netland.at/wien
Austria is one of the safest holiday destinations in the world, and fortunately has been spared any major acts of terrorism.
However, the US Government still warns that its open borders (Austria borders with eight European countries - Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) could leave it vulnerable to terrorist groups entering and leaving anonymously.
US intelligence states that there has been significant radicalization of immigrant Muslim individuals and small groups, and increased use of the internet for propaganda purposes. Travelers should remain vigilant at all times, as there is a heightened risk of terrorism.
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