Crime Risks in Chile - Travel Safety Tips

Sightseeing, adventure sports, relaxation and friendly welcoming people; just some of the things that await travelers to Chile.

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Protest in Chile Photo © iStock.com/wastesoul

While this beautiful country is a relatively safe place to visit, the threat of crime still exists. Here are a few things to consider for a safe trip.

Petty Crime Hotspots

Chile is no different than any other popular travel destination in that petty theft like pickpocketing and bag snatching is an issue. Crowded places such as shops, restaurants, and public transportation hubs are all hot spots for petty crime.

The Las Condes, Providencia, and Vitacura areas of Santiago are notoriously frequented by thieves. Additional areas to be cautious in include Cerro San Cristobal, Cerro Manquehue, Cerro Santa Lucia and the Lake District.

Before you head out on the town, take appropriate precautions to avoid becoming a victim; don't flash your cash, keep valuables well concealed and always be aware of your surroundings.

Luggage Theft in Chile

Luggage and bag theft is also a growing problem in Chile, especially up north in San Pedro and near the Atacama Desert. The Pucon and Villarrica areas of the Lake District have also seen an increase in criminal activity, particularly theft.

Travelers are advised to never leave their baggage unattended in public transportation hubs and to avoid storing them in overhead compartments during travel. When moving throughout the country, don't let your bags out of your sight.

Mugging and Other Crime

While violent crime is quite rare in Chile, there have been reports of daylight muggings in the Cerro Santa Lucia, Cerro San Cristobal Park, and Cerro Manquehue areas of Santiago.

These muggings are often carried out by armed groups, making the threat of violence more likely. Visiting places off the beaten path at night is not advised, and travel within the busier areas should be done in the safety of groups.

If you plan on using a taxi service after dark, book one in advance. Hailing one on the street may be dangerous.

Drink Spiking Risk in Chile

Chile has its share of bars and nightclubs offering an exciting nightlife experience for visitors. If you plan on drinking, however, keep in mind that reports of drink spiking are on the rise.

in Santiago, Suecia and Bellavista are known for this type of activity. Victims are given drinks laced with a drug meant to render them unconscious, making them susceptible to robbery, assault or worse. Don't accept drinks from anyone you don't know, and always keep your beverage in your sight at all times.

Protests and Demonstrations

Large demonstrations and protests arise occasionally in Chile, and while most of them are carried out peacefully, they all present a certain level of danger of possible violence due to their political nature.

Clashes between protesters and the Chilean government can often become violent quickly. If you happen upon a protest or demonstration, steer clear of it.

Additionally, although terrorist acts such as bombings cannot easily be anticipated, you can lessen the chances of becoming a victim by monitoring local news reports and government warnings and by understanding the political climate of the areas you're planning to visit, prior to and during your trip. 

(FYI: We've switched off comments on this piece because it was getting way out of hand. Please be nice, people!)

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