The Clever Travel Companion Updates

10 Surprising Risky Destinations - According to the State Department January 16 2018, 0 Comments

The U.S. Department of State recently assigned every country in the world a "travel safety rating". The safest places are ranked Level 1, while the places that Americans are advised to avoid are considered Level 4:

travel safety department of state ratings 

Many tourist-frequented countries were highlighted for travel safety concerns as Level 2, meaning Americans should “exercise increased caution” and “be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.” Many of the advisories stem from threats of terrorism, while others are due to crime or weather.

Surprising Countries with Level 2 Travel Safety Ratings

Here are some countries you might be surprised the State Department gave a lower travel safety rating to, and why the agency says you should exercise caution when visiting them.

Denmark

“Exercise increased caution in Denmark due to terrorism,” the travel advisory states. “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Denmark. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning.”

Belize

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“Exercise increased caution in Belize due to crime,” the travel advisory states. “Violent crime, such as sexual assault, armed robbery, and murder, is common. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”

France

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“Exercise increased caution in France due to terrorism,” the travel advisory states. “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in France. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning.”

Antarctica

Antarctica research ship cruise

“Exercise increased caution in Antarctica due to environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather,” the travel advisory states. “The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Antarctica.”

Italy

Italy warnings and dangers

“Exercise increased caution in Italy due to terrorism,” the travel advisory states. “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Italy. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning.”

The Bahamas

(Photo: Shutterstock)

“Exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime,” the travel advisory states. “Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime.”

The United Kingdom

“Exercise increased caution in the United Kingdom due to terrorism,” the travel advisory states. “There is also a risk of isolated violence by dissident groups in Northern Ireland, focused primarily on police and military targets.”

Germany

Cologne, germany

“Exercise increased caution in Germany due to terrorism,” the travel advisory states. “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Germany. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning.”

The Maldives

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“Exercise increased caution in Maldives due to terrorism,” the travel advisory states. “Terrorist groups may conduct attacks with little or no warning … Attacks may occur on remote islands which could lengthen the response time of authorities.”

Spain

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“Exercise increased caution in Spain due to terrorism,” the travel advisory states. “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Spain. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning.”


Video shows just how easy it is to be pickpocketed this Christmas December 11 2017, 0 Comments

The above video highlights just how easy it is to become the victim of pickpocketing - especially as the high streets, shopping centres and malls get busier in the festive period.

The clip, released by Nationwide building society, a UK Bank, aims to warn people to be more vigilant as they go about their festive shopping this year.

The social experiment was performed by expert pickpocket and entertainer Lee Thompson.

Lee, who advises the police on street theft techniques, said: “Unfortunately pickpocketing is very common, especially in areas where crowds gather and people are distracted.

"A good pickpocket understands human psychology and knows people can only direct their attention to one or two things at a time."

There were 442,000 "theft from persons" offences in the year ending June 2015 in England and Wales alone.

Nationwide polled just over 2,000 street theft victims and found that mobile phone theft accounted for 15% of all incidents with the average value of each loss totalling £221 (approx $300).

Apple's iPhones tops the thieves' wish list, followed by other brands, such as Samsung.

The survey also found trouser and coat pockets are the most common place to steal from, accounting for 34% of incidents.

Bags worn over the shoulder or on the back accounted for 26% of incidents while theft from a bag on the floor or table came in at 18%.

Two thirds of victims (66%) were with someone else or a group; a third (32%) were on their own.

Just 19% of culprits were caught, with four in ten victims (40%) not going to the police because they either didn’t think the thief would be caught (25%) or couldn’t be bothered to report it (9%).

According to those surveyed, London was the most common place for pickpockets to operate with Manchester coming in second, Birmingham third, Glasgow fourth and Leeds fifth.

Dan King, Nationwide’s Head of the Current Accounts, said: “Christmas and sales events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday are a perfect opportunity for criminals to fill their festive wishlist.

"At this time of year people tend to carry more cash on them, making it really easy and lucrative for pickpockets to operate.

"Mobile phone thefts make up a large percentage of all property stolen on the streets and it's not just the phone itself that is valuable, but also the personal data it contains."

Lee's Top Tips to Avoid Pickpockets

Be vigilant - if you suspect someone is following you, stop what you are doing and walk in a different direction.

Don't look like a tourist - pickpockets love tourists because they often carry lumps of cash and are not paying attention.

Travel light - leave any unnecessary valuables in your hotel room or at home.

Don't wear clothes that make you stand out - High end clothes, expensive jewellery or watches make you a walking advertisement for a pickpocket. The Clever Travel Companion range is perfect for this with it's plain aesthetic and secure zipper pockets. 

Don't advertise - if you have to travel with your valuables, keep them out of sight as much as possible.

Cash machines - use well-lit cash machines at a reputable building society or bank.

Secure your backpack - rucksacks are an easy target for pickpockets. Make sure they are securely fastened and secure valuables in your front pockets or a money belt. Keep your bags in sight at all times.


6-fold increase in pickpocketing in just 8 years November 02 2017, 0 Comments

Pickpocketing in Malta has last year reached an all-time high of almost 2,500 cases, an average of seven reported a day. These statistics have forced the Maltese parliament to address the issue in public. While Malta may not be the best example of the situation worldwide, this is a statistical reflection of the rise in pickpocketing cases reported worldwide and a demonstration of how brazen, professional, organised and adaptive thieves are becoming. 

This worrying trend, which has been developing over a number of years, is even more pronounced when considering that the overall total for 2016 shows a sixfold increase when compared to 2009.

Details on various thefts offence committed last year were tabled in Maltese Parliament recently by Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela in reply to a question by Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami.

The places to avoid were the main tourist hotspots of Valletta and Paceville.

It transpired that, in 2016, pickpocketing was the most common type of theft reported, with 2,447 cases. This was 20 per cent up over the previous year. According to the data, this offence rose steadily since 2013. Four years ago 1,469 pickpocketing cases were reported, followed by 1,538 in 2014 and 2,030 in 2015.

This trend has been linked to a number of Eastern European gangs, some of whom have been brought to justice already and further demonstrates that this is a pattern seen all over Europe and not just in Malta. In Paris for example, the rise in pickpockets around the metro and Eiffel tower have seen a number of Eastern European gangs prosecuted as has London's Transport Police in relation to a rise in thefts on the London Underground. 

Cases the police refer to as “snatch-and-grab”, whereby the offender forcibly obtains personal belongings like bags, purses and mobile phones, increased to 179 in 2016, an increase of 41 per cent over 2013.

Though no detailed overall breakdown of the localities where pickpockets are most likely to strike was divulged, this newspaper last month reported that, in 2016, one in every eight offences was reported in Malta's tourism hub, Valletta. This data confirms earlier research carried out by criminologist Saviour Formosa who had concluded that, in 2015, the places to avoid were Valletta and Paceville.

Safe not sorry

• The Maltese police rolled out a crime prevention campaign last summer targeting the spike in pickpocketing together with a number of tips to avoid being targeted.

Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket.

• Bags should be carried in front with flaps against your body.

• Keep straps short and bags tucked under the arms.

• Do not display any jewellery.

• Do not show any money – keep it safely in your pockets.

• Stay alert and aware of what is going on around you.

• If possible, install a tracker application on your smartphone.

• Keep a record of the unique reference number (IMEI) of your phone – this can be retrieved by dialling *#06#.

• Use your phone’s security lock or PIN number.

• Do not write PIN numbers for credit/debit cards on your mobile phone.