Thursday, April 14, 2011

Safety Tips for expats in Argentina

My friend Rick Davis sent me this email, its safety tips from an expat forum. There’s good info here and valid no matter where you live.

Posted by: “Frances Perry”
Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:58 pm (PDT)
A good security note on tires and then reminder. This was sent out today.
Some unfortunate security incidents have happened to members of our community over the past few days; some of them have occurred on streets. So I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of certain preventive measures that can keep us safe. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:
· According to published statistics, tire thefts increased 30% this year. Most of them were imported tires. One of the reasons for this happening are the import restrictions that went into effect in March 2010.
- Use the parking lot
- Leave nothing in sight inside the car. In some cases, a person who wants to steal a tire will proceed to breaking a window or lock to get inside the car if he sees something inside the car that catches his attention. Have an alarm installed in the car and add safety locknuts for the 5 wheels. These locknuts have a special key that you should keep with you and not in the car.
- If you see a person or vehicle that looks suspicious, let the guard know. There have been cases where the victim said he/she was suspicious of someone but decided not to say anything.
While I am writing about a security topic, let me also add a few additional security tips that can be useful:
· If you need to withdraw money from an ATM, do so during banking hours, at the bank where there is security. ATMs in shopping malls or gas stations are not recommended.
· If you need to go shopping, try to estimate the money you will spend and do not carry much more cash than that with you. Whenever possible use debit and credit cards. A random thief will prefer to rob someone who has cash on them, not someone who is using debit or credit cards. It’s also a very good idea to keep your cash separate from your documents, so that if you are robbed, you only lose your money, and not hard to replace IDs or other documents that contain details about your life.
· When you are on the street, stay aware of what is happening around you. Otherwise, you become an easy target. Using your cell phone while you walk distracts you, and sends others a signal that you are distracted. Also, remember that women are many times involved in street crime—do not think a person or their movements are less suspicious just because it’s a woman.
· If for any reason you think you are going to be robbed, walk faster and try to go into a store or near a police officer, and alert him. If you don’t see a store with guards or a policeman, walk faster and change direction to see if the suspicious person is really following you. Always keep a good distance between yourself and other people– nobody can rob you from a distance. Shouting somebody’s name will make other people think you are not alone. Shouting fire, fire will alert other people and/or neighbors.
· There are cases of phone calls saying that one of your family members has been kidnapped. These are called “Virtual Kidnappings” (secuestro virtual).
There are a few excuses that these “kidnappers” use to engage you in conversation when you answer the phone so that they can demand a ransom for the “kidnapped” person, such as:
- Reporting an accident.
- Saying that they are the police and asking for details.
- Sometimes there is a tape saying the phone call is being made from jail.(Este es un llamado del servicio penitenciario)
- Repair service from the phone company.
- Any other excuse to engage the person in conversation so they can threaten the victim.
It’s very important not to engage in conversation with someone you don’t know or whose number you don’t recognize. If someone is trying to get your attention like that on the phone, hang up immediately, no matter what their excuse is. If it is something truly important, they will most likely call back. They may also call back to try to get your attention again. If you are still not convinced that it’s a safe call, tell them that you are going to call the police. Do so even if the person who speaks to you speaks perfect English. In one of the incidents this week, the second person who spoke did so in English. If you leave your house, give the people who stay home a way to get in touch with you in case of an emergency.
· If you go downtown try to park in an indoor parking garage.
· When you return to your house, look around for suspicious people or activity. If you see something you don’t like, keep driving, and then call your house to let them know that you are around the block and ask them to call the police. Some people don’t want to bother the police if they are not sure but its better then getting robbed and its one of the ways to avoid becoming a victim.
· If you parked the car outside your house and it’s already dark outside, leave it outside. A family was robbed a year and a half ago because they tried to move the car off the street once it was dark.
· If you go to a restaurant or a bar, try to pick places located in busy areas and that have security guards or police.
· One of the most important points to remember is to not fight back if you are getting robbed. It is extremely risky to try to avoid a robbery once it has begun, and will most likely provoke a violent reaction from the robber(s). Preventive measures can keep us from becoming victims of urban crime, and the correct reaction once we are involved in an incident can save lives.
· Exchanging information and letting people know about incidents that happen to us can help other people stay alert These conversations are very important so that everyone can be aware of personal security issues, and perhaps avoid a difficult situation.
Join the forum discussion on this post


Don Williams said...

1) The US State Department provides a long list of tips/suggestions for international travel here:

2) In some cases, there are links to specific services that the US Government provides to US citizens.

In such cases, the information may also be useful to non-US travelers as well (e.g, frequent types of crimes and crime areas in specific cities.)

I only wish the US State Department would include similar information for US cities as well, since you can definitely get your butt kicked in certain sections of New York , Washington, Philadelphia,etc. : )

3) And, of course, the embassies of other countries provide similar services to their citizens, if one thinks to check.

4) If Ferfal has some time in the next few weeks, I would be interested on his view of the US State Department's description of crime and safety in Argentina, located here:

Don Williams said...

1) There is also what I think of as International Travel for Dummies. I.e, a contract with Global Rescue Inc to send their doctors, Navy Seals, etc to haul your butt out of whatever trouble you've managed to get into:

2) It is kinda hilarious to look at some of the situations into which Global Rescue's clients have blundered -- stuck in the Himalayas, clawed by a leopard in Africa, bitten by a cobra, etc.

I don't think Darwin would have approved of Global Rescue.

David III said...

The last part about not fighting back... Ridiculous! Yes people get hurt... They get hurt even if they do not fight back. Once a group decides to be passive victims they become the preferred target! Wake up people! If everyone fought back all the time, crime would be very rare!

FerFAL said...

Yes, that part about not fighting back, well... dont agree with that.
Then again if you dont know how to do it, lack the mindset or the tools to do so, then the first time you get a gun shoved in your face isn't the time to get started.

Don Williams said...

1) I forgot to mention -- corporations use Kroll Associates to provide them with more detailed local knowledge than what is provided by the US State Department.
Detailed security advice, background checks on potential business customers or suppliers,etc.

2) The Latin America branch of Kroll Associates has an office in Buenos Aires, with a web description of their services, contact for news reporters, employment contact,etc.