Safety in the Big City

  1. NEVER use your cellphone on the bus
  2. Always be aware of who is behind you during busy times on public transport
  3. When you ascend the bus, try to be the last one so that no-one is behind you. Would-be thieves use this time in the crowd when you are preparing your BIP card to grab and run
  4. In crowded places always keep your bag in front
  5. If you are drunk don’t walk alone
  6. When you use a cash machine (redbanc), check that the keypad and the slot where you insert your card is completely secure. Thieves often place fake numbers and card readers on machine to take your information but these are usually not very secure given that they are placed on in a hurry.
  7. Avoid people seeing your pin
  8. One common ruse is to open the car door on one side at the same time as it is being locked so that someone can go in once you have walked away
  9. If you are walking alone and there is a person that you think has bad intentions coming quickly behind you, change direction to see if they follow. If they do, don’t waste time just run. Scream to get attention from people around you and say “ayuda” or “socorro.”
  10. If you are in a dangerous situation, don’t fight just hand over what they want.
  11. When in the taxi (or when driving) keep the doors locked
  12. If you are concerned about taking a taxi, memorize the plate number before you get in
  13. Before a trip in the taxi, you can estimate times and costs using the app
  14. In the taxi watch out for fake bills and note swaps. State when you pass the money how much you are passing “Here is 10,000 …”.
  15. If you think the taxi meter is rising too quickly, get out. To avoid big problems, pay it and write the plate number down, and then formally report the driver to the Ministerio de Transportes.
  16. If you are in a stalemate situation with the taxi driver, threaten to call the police (or actually call the police)
  17. To avoid a portonazo, some ideas could be to install a GPS in the car, to install an electric gate or to get someone to open the door. If you see someone suspicious around, don’t get out.
  18. Don’t leave things in jacket pockets and tie bags to the table when you eat out
  19. Warning signals: random people by your house, shifty movements from being nervous
  20. During a phone scam, just hang up and do not engage in conversation because they use your words to determine if someone is home, if you have a daughter etc
  21. Start observing your surroundings so that you can come to see what is normal and what is not. Open. your. eyes!

This list was intended for those who are new to city life, or who would like to be extra-cautious in the city. By no means is Santiago more dangerous than anywhere else, and these tips can apply to any city, anywhere.  This post was prompted by recent news events that could have been avoided.  Any tips will be added to the post.

For more information regarding what to look for and tricks of the trade see the following blog posts:

Wheels on the Bus about the city-wide bus service from the drivers perspective

Yo Me Pare el Taxi/    Taxista in SantiagoTales from the taxi

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