Italy is a country with many facets. It is a paradise for an outdoor enthusiast with skiing in the Alps, snorkeling in the crystal blue of the Mediterranean or hiking through the countryside. The cities are filled world famous works of art and acclaimed restaurants and night spots. But beneath this perfect vacation spot is danger. Although terror strikes are non-existent and political violence is rarely directed at foreigners, theft, scams and assault are real hazards for tourists. Perhaps the most prevalent crime against tourists is theft. Often, bags are grabbed from vehicles or from tired travelers at bus or train stations. It has been reported that tourists have been giving drugged drinks and robbed when the effects kicked in. Italy is also famous for gangs of children mobbing a tourist and taking everything he is carrying.
It pays to be proactive when traveling through Italy. Avoid wearing expensive, or even expensive looking, jewelry and bags. Watch the local news or read a local English newspaper if one is available, to find out where crimes have been committed and don't go to those areas. Travel with at least one other person if possible. If you are traveling alone, join a tour group. Make sure that you know the telephone numbers and addresses of the local police departments as well.
Out in Public
Perhaps the most important thing is to always be aware of what is going on around you.If you see someone suspicious, duck into the nearest restaurant or shop where there are other people. Be aware that many criminals in Italy work in pairs, so be on the lookout for suspicious groups especially young children. If you are approached and offered anything or someone asks you for help, find a nearby police officer and report the incident. In Naples, look for operators for the Urban Tourist Assistance in yellow vests for help with directions or to report problems. Currently, there has been a rash of ATM related crimes in Italy, and the U.S. State Department recommends that travelers only use ATMs in well lit areas.
What to Do If a Crime is Commited
If you do become a victim of crime in Italy, immediately report it to the local police as well as the closest U.S. consulate or embassy. If it is an emergency, dial 113 for immediate help. If you have had credit cards stolen, immediately call and cancel them as well as any other banking institutions that might be effected by the theft. If there is a language barrier, Italian law allows you to hire an attorney to file charges for you. There is possible compensation from the Italian government if you are the victim of terrorism, organized crime and hit and run drivers but not other crimes.
Article Written By Catherine Rayburn-Trobaug
Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh has been a writer and college writing professor since 1992. She has written for international companies, published numerous feature articles in the "Wilmington News-Journal," and won writing contests for her poetry and fiction. Rayburn-Trobaugh earned a Master of Arts in English from Wright State University.