Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, is one of the safest cities in South America, but that doesn't mean you it's crime-free. Exercise a little common sense and you will have a safe and enjoyable time in one of Latin America's most vibrant cities.
Petty crime is most common in and around public transport hubs in Buenos Aires and Mendoza. Recently, thieves have been targeting passports.
Be aware, criminals have been known to use force if they encounter resistance from travelers, so it's advisable to immediately hand over all cash and valuables when confronted or cornered.
Here's a list of the most common types of petty crime and where they occur most frequently.
Thieves rob tourists while an accomplice pretends to help remove tomato sauce or mustard that has been 'accidentally' sprayed on them.
More straightforward thieves will simply slit the handbags of travelers in crowded or public places such as cafes, on the subway system, and on train and bus stations.
One scam works by enticing a traveler into a
These opportunists are rife on public transport and around transport hubs. They are often neatly dressed and will often try to grab bags from between people's feet. Some will even come cruising past you on a skateboard or motorcycle, grab what they want and take off.
You can reduce the chance of being targeted if you avoid wearing expensive watches, jewelry or carrying cameras that are tempting targets for thieves.
Electronic goods such as smartphones and iPads are expensive in Argentina, so they are highly prized goods for thieves. Avoid using them in public spaces or leaving them unsecured. Travelers have reported having their phones snatched from their hands while using them.
Only carry the cash you need for the day, and be careful when withdrawing cash from ATMs, as it's common for thefts to take place. Stay alert at all times and if possible only use ATMs in banks or hotels.
Travelers should be cautious in touristy areas, including La Boca, San Telmo, downtown, and in the Retiro bus terminal, where robberies are common. Avoid shady neighborhoods including Villa Lugano and Villa Riachuelo, especially after dark. In La Boca, stick to the main tourist precinct, even during the day.
The U.S Bureau of Diplomatic Security also warns travelers to be alert in the northern affluent suburbs of Buenos Aires including Vicente Lopez, Olivos, Martinez and San Isidro, as well as the neighborhoods of Palermo, Belgrano, and Nunez.
Be alert around transport hubs, especially the bus terminal, where distraction thefts are the method of choice for most thieves. General San Martin Park is another spot where thieves like to hang out.
When using taxis, if possible, book in advance. Only use radio taxis or a remise (a private car with driver).
Radio taxis have a clearly visible company logo on the rear passenger doors.
Taxis are a common place for counterfeiters to ply their trade. Unscrupulous taxi drivers, and sometimes street vendors, pretend to help
When you leave your taxi, be aware that many people in the street and in the subway hand out small cards with horoscopes, lottery numbers, pictures of saints, or cute drawings on them. If you take the card, the person will ask for payment. You can simply return the card along with a ‘no, gracias‘.
Crimes against car passengers, particularly when stopped at traffic lights, occur occasionally. Keep windows closed and doors locked in major cities.
Traveling by car in regional areas can be dangerous. Care should be taken when driving in the Province of Misiones, close to the borders with Paraguay and Brazil. The area is used to smuggle goods, particularly marijuana and other drugs and weapons, across the borders. It's also a hub for human trafficking and money laundering. Seek local advice if you intend to drive in this area or better still, avoid it all together.
Thieves regularly nab unattended purses, backpacks, laptops or luggage, with thieves distracting visitors for a few seconds to steal valuables. Yes, they are that quick.
Argentinean officials have acknowledged the systematic theft of valuables and money from checked baggage at Buenos Aires airports.
Authorities are working to resolve the problem, and have made a number of arrests, but travelers should exercise continued care and caution.
Needless to say, don't pack valuables or important documents in your checked baggage, always keep them on your person. Always keep your bags locked while transiting or even just hanging around in the airport or transport hub.
The Argentine police operate a 24-hour police helpline in English for visitors in Buenos Aires, which can be accessed by dialing 101.
Another option is to contact the Comisaria del Turista (Tourist Police Station) at Av. Corrientes 436, or on the multi-lingual toll-free number 0800 999 5000 or by dialing directly on 4346 5748.
In Mendoza, you can seek assistance from the Tourist Police, San Martin 1143, by calling telephone 0261 4132135.
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