How to sidestep Senegal crime and stay safe

Taking some simple precautions can ensure you don't become a target for crime in Senegal

Senegal has both its petty crime and more serious incidents. Pickpocketing, purse-snatching and theft can occur both on the street and in taxis, and can turn violent. Some travelers have reported being victims of armed robbery, including at knifepoint.

There are general precautions you can take to avoid crime in Senegal. Always walk with others and avoid going out on foot past late afternoon.

Never flash or carry valuables and be vigilant in large crowds and markets, as these areas are where thieves typically target tourists. Crime increases around major religious holidays, so don't let your guard down during these times.

Places to Avoid

Crime happens frequently in Dakar, in areas like the airport, Place de l'Independence, the Western Corniche and the central part of the Plateau. Dakar's restaurant district, called La Petite Corniche, and St.-Louis' restaurant area, are known for muggings and robberies.

The Pink Lake or Lac Rose tourist area can be dangerous at night, especially on isolated beaches. Travelers should not go out alone and must be extremely cautious of suspicious-looking strangers.

(Keep your eyes peeled)

Highways after dark in Senegal can be dangerous as well, with banditry often occurring in the central and eastern parts of the country. This danger extends to Tambacounda and Matam.

Criminals are known to stake out RN2, or National Road, between Ndioum and Kidira. They may also wait for victims on the RN1 between Kidira and Tambacounda. Bandits may ambush cars and buses.

Try to avoid travel to the Casamance region as well. In June 2009, members of the Movement of the Democratic Forces of the Casamance rebel group reportedly killed three individuals in a car jacking near Kawane, a village in northern Casamance. These rebels have no qualms about robbing and assaulting civilians and government officials.

Don't be a Scam Victim

Vendors, beggars and children can be very aggressive when asking for money and may try to distract you while a partner steals from you.

(Make sure you're getting the real thing!)

Also watch out for those selling ebony as souvenirs, as some dodgy vendors will just sell regular wood covered in boot polish to make it look like the real stuff.

Use Common Sense

Another common type of crime in Senegal is fraud. Business, visa and dating scams all abound, and can result in physical violence in addition to loss of money.

Business scams often start with a random email from someone -- often a purported refugee or relative of a present or former politician -- who proposes an idea to generate rapid profit.

These scams can also involve advance fees, bank account information and false job offers asking for payment for visa or administrative processing. Remember that no legitimate employer will ever ask you to pay money for a job.

Visa scams mostly involve victims who want to go to the United States. They are offered a visa by someone, but only if they pay a high amount of money to register for an event or conference.

Links to fake U.S. government web sites are often used by criminals asking for donations. Criminals may try to win over a tourist's heart so that they can then ask for money after the visitor has returned home. This can happen in person or via email.

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1 Comment

  • Charley said

    Staying in coastal region only. Do not expe t to visit interior.

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