Several travellers spoke of being mugged or robbed, particularly on dark roads at night and in isolated spots. The “darkness“ element is actually more widespread than one might think -- street lights are scarce in many public places and intermittent electricity blackouts can cause whole city sections to go dim. Marketplaces and festivals also attract pick pocketing.
In addition to street robbery, thieves sometimes wander into hotels and try to steal belongings, report travellers who stayed near the beach in Santa Maria.
The profile of the majority of criminals is a male age 25 or younger, but street children are also known for robbing tourists. Any group of youths that seems to be hanging out at night without adults may be on the prowl for your pocketbook or wallet. Whether they are an adult or a juvenile, you will rarely be accosted by just one thief -- they usually approach in twos or threes.
Travellers also report aggressive youths who offer to carry your bags from the airport in Praia. As for the profile of the victims, race, country of origin and gender do not really come into play. You have a higher risk of being attacked if you simply look like you have money. You know what this means: avoid wearing flashy jewellery and posh clothing and flaunting expensive electronics.
Troublingly, muggings are increasingly involving violence. Again, Praia and Mindelo are the most common areas for this kind of extreme violence, but it is also appearing on other islands like Sal. But do the statistics back up the perception of heightened danger?
While government web sites like the one belonging to the U.S. State Department say murders or attempted murders have occurred in Cape Verde in recent years, at least one notable incident did not actually involve any citizens of Cape Verde. In February 2007, a non-native resident of the island of Sal and some accomplices raped and murdered two Italian women staying on the island -- the man had formerly dated one of the women. A third victim, only 17, was beaten and left for dead, but survived. While this crime is heinous, its domestic nature -- and assaults committed by boyfriends and spouses against women are common in Cape Verde -- does not support the idea that violence against travelers is on the rise.
Organized crime, incidents linked to the drug trade and drug use and gang violence have been reported to be increasing. In late 2010, 68 people were being charged with various crimes like robbery and murder -- 12 of the suspects were thought to be juvenile gang members. The dozen were charged with stealing from homes in the Palmarejo and Tira Chapéu sections of Praia and the armed robbery and physical assault of several victims.
Since it is a group of islands, Cape Verde has some natural dangers related both to its makeup and positioning on the world map. It is built upon a chain of volcanic islands -- there are 10 main islands and five islets. Santa Luzia is an uninhabited island. The island of Fogo still erupts from time to time, with the most recent eruption occurring in 1995. Tremors from eruptions can be felt on the islands of Brava and Santo Antão as well. The volcanoes on the remaining islands appear to be inactive.
Most of the hazards will come not by land, but by sea. Rip currents are one of the chief dangers of swimming in the waters surrounding Cape Verde. Santa Monica beach carries risks both from rip tides and a rocky shoreline. Any traveller looking to undertake water activities, swimming or boating should take extra precautions with the currents. If sailing around the Cape, at least one government site lists the seas as “treacherous.“ Small fishing boats have gone missing over the years and sailing to the southern islands of Fogo and Brava is reported to be especially dangerous.
Leave your umbrella and rain coat at home when travelling to any of the Cape Verde islands, as rainfall doesn‘t normally occur. It‘s usually always sunny, too, with the only clouds appearing when storms from the east blow in. While this can make for a pleasant vacation, this lack of precipitation can cause droughts and shortages of food. It also means fresh water is not abundant. It‘s advisable to drink bottled water, as other forms might cause stomach sickness.
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