If you read any government website about travel to Peru (or any other country in South America) then you would probably never travel. The reality is that Peru is one of the safest countries in South America, and is a country that receives thousands of tourists every year. Petty crime in Peru is probably the biggest annoyance, and often those visitors who fall foul to this type of crime are not aware of their surroundings and are not using common sense.
The most common type of crime in Peru is petty pick-pocketing and theft of personal items, such as bags and cameras. Following these simple precautions will keep you safe and free from crime:
- Always be aware of your surroundings
- Never put anything important in your back pockets, or pockets which are easily accessible.
- Never take out money from an ATM in the street, always use a bank with an ATM inside.
- Never change money in the street.
- Always wear your handbag in front, so you can see it. Or, better still do not use one.
- Be cautious of taxis, especially late at night.
- Never leave bags unattended, even in restaurants.
- Use safe boxes provided by your hotel.
- Never flash your cash in public.
- Do not bring expensive jewelry with you, leave it at home….you will live!
The Tourist Police
If you’re unlucky enough to have anything stolen, your first port of call should be the tourist police (policia de turismo). Bear in mind that the police in popular tourist spots, such as Cusco, have become much stricter about investigating reported thefts, after a spate of false claims by dishonest tourists. This means that genuine victims may be grilled more severely than expected, and the police may even come and search your hotel room for the “stolen” items. However, provided your claim is genuine, you should stick to your guns and make sure you get a written report.
Peru’s headquarters for the tourist police is in Lima at the Museo de La Nacion, Javier Prado Este 2465, 5th floor (tel 01/225-8699, 437-8171 or 435-1342).