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Author Topic: How can I prevent theft?  (Read 9960 times)
fototrotter
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« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2009, 02:19:18 AM »
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Quote from: nniko
I've had many pleasant experiences with people in various parts of the world, and certainly don't have the sort of general attitudes that you're accusing me of.

I didn't mean to accuse you personaly of any attitude nor (mis)behaviour,... It was meant as an elaboration on your earlier post...
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marimagen
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« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2009, 09:30:38 AM »
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Thank you everyone. I'll be going to Mexico City, and then to other places. MC is one of those big cities where things can happen in broad daylight, even in 'normal' downtown areas. I've been there before and nothing has ever happened to me, yet I was never carrying expensive equipment around. I'll use the plastic bag trick just to be on the safe side. Thanks, Marie
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2009, 10:13:43 AM »
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...and how do you survive if you have a big, valuable camera system - anywhere?

A P65+ or a Hasselblad with a big zoom is twice the size of a Nikon... but it might be less interesting to a professional thief, as there are fewer of them about, which would make them more traceable.

Can you use Phocus without Hasselblad knowing the serial number of your camera?

If you want quality pictures without using something that looks interesting to thieves, use a "really naff" wooden view camera (or use one to hide your DSLR)!

Most of the people who get mugged are young males, who have the confidence to go places where others would not.
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reburns
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« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2009, 12:29:36 PM »
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Weigh in on this:  How about a small can of pepper spray?   - it is a reasonable defense one-on-one?  two+ of them and one of you?  against a guy with a knife?  general defense for a woman to protect her body?  Each situation is different, but is it a good stack of odds in your favor?

I've thrown one in my shoulder camera bag many times when traveling overseas.  Airport security gives the carry-on camera bag nary a look.  Only twice has security even bothered to look thru lenses (hello C4?), and never thru the kick-knacks and thingabobs in the pockets.  I've had my teenage daughter carry-on pepper spray and twice airport security pulled it out and handed it back to her (WTF?).


All in all, I endorse FotoTrotter's list, especially the common sense bit.  Try canvassing a new city when you arrive just to get a feel.  Add to that email yourself S/N's of your camera gear in case you need to file a police report.  A police report will be very useful when filing an insurance claim.
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jasonrandolph
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« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2009, 01:18:30 PM »
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Since it's Mexico City, I would seriously consider a bodyguard.  Your camera may be the least of your worries.  That said, the best defense was already mentioned above: insurance.  Make sure your policy covers theft and damage at the very least.  With that said, good luck and be safe!
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Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2009, 03:01:51 PM »
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Somebody mentioned professional thieves - I think you should worry more about the junkie out for his daily fix: if it shines, if it's big, if it looks expensive, if it looks new, maybe worth a couple of thousand bucks, then hell, I might get fifty! Go for it, man, GO!

Rob C
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David Sutton
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« Reply #26 on: September 25, 2009, 09:10:13 PM »
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Quote from: marimagen
Thank you everyone. I'll be going to Mexico City, and then to other places. MC is one of those big cities where things can happen in broad daylight, even in 'normal' downtown areas. I've been there before and nothing has ever happened to me, yet I was never carrying expensive equipment around. I'll use the plastic bag trick just to be on the safe side. Thanks, Marie
Hi Marie. I'm sure you'll be fine with the advice here. If you are still unsure, I would google "Mexico City martial arts clubs" and contact one to see if you can employ a couple of students to accompany you. They would regard it an honour.
David
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Rob C
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« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2009, 02:34:07 PM »
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Quote from: Taquin
Hi Marie. I'm sure you'll be fine with the advice here. If you are still unsure, I would google "Mexico City martial arts clubs" and contact one to see if you can employ a couple of students to accompany you. They would regard it an honour.
David





No offence to anyone, least of all the martial arts fraternity (perish the thought!) but it reminds me of the 'who's gonna police the police?' situation that might be in the process of being set up here... I think any woman is putting herself into a hell of a difficult position taking on strangers as bodyguards: my daughter once had to stop by the side of the road because something went wrong with the car; a guy stopped, helped her out and then thought he had the right to payment by favours... that was Spain, and I doubt you can expect anything much better in Mexico!

Play on the side of caution and don't tempt Fate; it isn't worth it for such a silly reward as a photograph you don't even have to take.

Rob C
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terence_patrick
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« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2009, 05:01:42 PM »
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I was just in Mexico City, carrying a 5DMKII all over the city. The best advice is just to remain low-key, don't attract attention to yourself by acting overly cautious or suspicious of people around you. A little social-smarts goes a long way. Unless you're on assignment for a client that can afford to get you a fixer/translator/bodyguard, just behave like you would in your own city. Don't go walking through dark alleys by yourself in sketchy parts of town with all your gear in tow. Keep your gear manageable while walking the city. Know what's around you and have a basic sense of the city's layout before exploring. The Mexicans are very, very friendly people and typically don't mind being approached for help with directions or advice on local flavors. It also won't hurt you to have a backup camera system at the hotel.
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SeanBK
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« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2009, 05:04:10 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
........ Play on the side of caution and don't tempt Fate; it isn't worth it for such a silly reward as a photograph you don't even have to take.

Rob C

I do agree with Rob C, why bother? I LOVE photography as much as anyone on any forum but I have strong reservation @ your trip. Good Luck & God speed.
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feppe
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« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2009, 06:21:06 PM »
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If you even have to ask yourself that question, don't do it unless you're desperate for the money and fame it brings you, and are ok carrying the emotional and physical burden of getting mugged, or possibly much worse. Is your photography worth it? Unless you're shooting to get a Pulitzer, the answer most likely is "no."

As for bad anecdotal experiences "overseas" (whatever that means): there are bad people in every country. Having said that, statistically Mexico City is one of the worst places on earth on muggings, assault, murder, rape and kidnappings, so I urge you to heed the above warning.

All the bravado of hiring bodyguards, plastic bags (how are you gonna take pictures out of a plastic bag?), being prepared to fight (for a woman, really?), carrying pepper spray, etc. is largely inconsequential. Some of that is prudent behavior in familiar surroundings, but going to a foreign location infamous for its crime, (presumably) not speaking the language, and (presumably) looking like a rich foreign woman with very expensive camera equipment is something even I wouldn't do as a man - and I've visited over thirty countries, been to some pretty hairy places (with guns), am over 180cm, 90kg, have done martial arts most of my life, and have military background.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2009, 10:17:34 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
I once spent several years training at a karate school, and one of the female instructors also held awareness classes for women, particularly directed at women who had reason to worry about their physical security (nurses on the night shift, waitresses in late-night clubs, etc.) One of her key training things was to urge women to assess what they were doing -- if you think there's a possibility of some behavior getting you in trouble, don't do it. If it's convenient to go out to the parking structure alone, but possibly dangerous, then don't do it. I would suggest that if you're thinking about going somewhere that you might get mugged, don't go there. Especially don't go there with a camera -- it's not so much that they might steal the camera, it's that a camera has a certain outsider aggression to it, and that tends to piss off the people who get easily pissed off. It's a turf thing. Is it really worth getting beaten up or raped to get a photograph? I knew a women reporter who went to a routine street crime in Minneapolis (no camera) and the gang guys around got pissed off just because she was there, and burned her car -- and the cops were there. I know another well-known female photographer who got terribly beaten by a cab driver in Jerusalem because of her political opinions. Don't get "chickened" into it, either -- don't let people push you into doing something you don't want to do. This would be easier to talk about if we had an idea of where you're going. Different attitudes are needed in different places, and some places, you just shouldn't go. If you're talking about visiting Venice and the major kind of crime is purse snatching and pick-pocketing, that's one thing; if you're talking about Kirkuk or the North Philly Badlands, that 's completely different.
The karate instructor would make the point that yes, you do have a perfect legal right to go to the biker bar at midnight on Saturday, but if you get raped, even if they catch the guy and put him in prison, you won't get unraped.


I pretty much agree with what you and Feppe said above. Like Feppe, I have had plenty of training, and not in no-contact fake-fighting (eeeh-yah!) martial arts (LOL), but in legitimate full-contact MMA. I boxed for 6 years, and (when I lived in CA) I trained in submission wrestling for 4 years. I've had half my ear bit off in street fights, my nose broken 3x, and I still carry scars from broken bottles and a knife ... so I have been around the block a time or two ... and yet there are still places "I" as a well-trained man am afraid to go  

All the training in the world won't save a person from a gun. And, contrary to the movies, all the training in the world won't help you prevail in a planned, group attack. You're done. Especially for a woman. I was a lot more reckless in my youth, and used to enjoy getting into trouble, but again that was as a young man. As a middle-aged man, especially in today's no-morals, trigger-pulling society, I have slowed down to a crawl and eventually learned the value of the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

That being said, there is a fine line between healthy caution and overblown paranoia. Even when I go out hiking in God's country, I carry a sidearm. Does that make me paranoid? Some may say yes, others may say no. The way I see it, there is no telling who or what I'll run into out in nature, and (trained though I may be) I would rather be fully-prepared than under-prepared. And that is in a quiet countryside, let alone in the back alleys of an impoverished inner city.

Regarding 3rd world countries, the truth is there are some places that offer minimal risk, some places that offer a legitimate (but acceptable) risk, and there are places that simply are not worth the risk. The funny thing is, in a 3rd world country (or really, any major city), these levels of risk can all be within a few hundred feet of each other. You can meet the nicest person in the world in one spot, and you can meet your killer 3 blocks down the road. That's the way it is in any hardcore city.

In the end, it's all up to the individual---what levels of risk he or she is willing to take, what levels of risk he or she is able to recognize in advance, and what levels of risk he or she has adequately prepared for. I suppose this is why some people never have faced any danger, while others have handled various dangers as they came, while still others never make it home from an unexpected and/or unplanned-for danger. It's called survival, and some don't survive, and in the end no one else can plan your choices for you but you.

Regarding the choices you make, the best advice I could give would be, if you feel uncertain or unprepared in any situation (especially as a woman), then err on the side of caution and don't do it ...

Jack

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feppe
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« Reply #32 on: September 27, 2009, 06:24:08 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
I was a lot more reckless in my youth, and used to enjoy getting into trouble, but again that was as a young man. As a middle-aged man, especially in today's no-morals, trigger-pulling society, I have slowed down to a crawl and eventually learned the value of the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

That today's society is somehow more dangerous than in the past is a oft-quoted fallacy: it's a well-studied fact that homicide rates have fallen dramatically over the past few centuries. I suspect it's because it's so much easier to read about the grisliest murders imaginable due to global media, and perhaps due to the numerous crime shows and movies out there. In the past all you knew was your town or city.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 06:24:54 AM by feppe » Logged

Peter Mellis
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« Reply #33 on: September 27, 2009, 11:47:12 AM »
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My company had two subsidiary operations in Mexico City and I spent a fair amount of time there during the late '90's. One of the things that I was doing during that time, was looking at industrial properties to buy or lease. Riding around with armed guards carrying automatic weapons made me very uncomfortable, as did knowing about some of the incidents that took place while I was there. I worked with and spent my time with local people that knew where and where not to go, but they were all very nervous themselves. About a year after I stopped going down there with any frequency, a fellow that I worked with and got to know fairly well, was murdered. He was in his mid-thirties, very fit and an ex US Navy Seal. He had lived and worked there for several years. was of Mexican descent (didn't look like a foreigner) and was a low key, cautious guy.

As lovely as Mexico City can be (except for the air) and as nice as the majority of the people are, it is a very dangerous and corrupt place. I would seriously rethink my visit.
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stevesanacore
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« Reply #34 on: September 27, 2009, 07:01:12 PM »
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Quote from: marimagen
Hello,
I will be travelling shortly to places where getting mugged is pretty common if you're wearing a nice watch or an expensive camera. I intend to take my D3 along and I'm kind of afraid they'll snatch it way from me. Is there a way to make a camera less obstrusive so that it doesn't stand out so much like a "rob me" item? Thanks, Marie


A few years ago I was bidding on a shoot in a country that had a bad reputation for crime. I brought this up and they offered body guards or the army to escort me. If you are not working for a client that has that kind of pull, then why go? I would never go to any location that was this dangerous to shoot a job no matter what the pay was. I suggest you do more research on where you are going and make some educated decisions.

My cameras would be the least of my concerns traveling into a dangerous location. Insurance will replace your cameras.

More details on where you are going would help others in determining your risk factors.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 07:02:02 PM by stevesanacore » Logged

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James R
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« Reply #35 on: September 28, 2009, 12:32:15 AM »
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It took about 10 minutes in Paris for the first pick-pocket to attempt to grab my wallet.   Same problem in Rome.  Here is my process: 1. I bring multiple CF cards and swap them out often. A thief may get my camera, but, he doesn't get my pics.  2. I have insurance on my gear to lessen the financial impact.  3.  I keep to the safer areas of a town.  4.  Don't shoot after dark.  5. Use a crappy back pack.  6. I'm pretty brazen and approach people to take their picture and find out what they'er doing.  Engaging the locals works for me.  7.  I have stopped traveling abroad, spending more time traveling the US--except Newark, Chicago, and parts of LA.    

Removing the financial concerns of a theft makes for a more enjoyable trip.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 12:33:13 AM by James R » Logged
Herkko
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« Reply #36 on: September 28, 2009, 01:28:50 AM »
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Quote from: feppe
All the bravado of hiring bodyguards, plastic bags (how are you gonna take pictures out of a plastic bag?), being prepared to fight (for a woman, really?), carrying pepper spray, etc. is largely inconsequential. Some of that is prudent behavior in familiar surroundings, but going to a foreign location infamous for its crime,

I agree. Handling pepper spray in rogue street attack is making you a very potential victim for homicide. I could (but most probably won't) go for it in Finland where I know the conditions somehow, but _never ever_ anywhere outside Europe. I've heard several stories of fatal knifings as a tourist has resisted in robbery, in places like Thailand, Kenya and so on. Do not carry your credit card around, if it's legal in your destination keep only copy of your passport with you + enough cash to be handed over to criminals so they will not get too upset. Do not resist, your travel insurance can cover the material losses but not loss of your life.

I've been traveling by business and leisure around World and would suggest to hire, not bodyguard but guide for your photography activities. At least he/she knows where&when you should definitely _not go_ for safety reasons. The difference between 'good area' and 'bad area' is like night and day in many locations, and you can do a lot of extra photography without worries in knowing company. Local guide is also a big help in navigating around, in restaurants and hotels etc. I much rather concentrate on photography on a trip to rural China, Colombia or Bolivia than spend hours negotiating routes or communicating with non-English speaking hotel staff ;)
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #37 on: September 28, 2009, 09:16:48 AM »
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Quote from: feppe
That today's society is somehow more dangerous than in the past is a oft-quoted fallacy: it's a well-studied fact that homicide rates have fallen dramatically over the past few centuries.

I must admit I skimmed the link you provided, but it seemed to show mainly that the crime rate in Europe is much lower, percentage-wise, than the crime rate in the USA. Thus the fallacy that seems to have been committed is assuming that the comparatively lower crime rate in Europe nowadays is representative of USA, let alone Mexico City and other parts of the world.




Quote from: feppe
I suspect it's because it's so much easier to read about the grisliest murders imaginable due to global media, and perhaps due to the numerous crime shows and movies out there. In the past all you knew was your town or city.

That could be true with some people, just as I am sure it is true some people feel they can dismiss the very real issues of today's crime rate in bad areas by providing a weblink to an article that has nothing to do with them. I am also not sure any of us ever lived in a time where "the only town we knew was our own city," but even if this were true the city I grew up in was Los Angeles, which I can assure you that what I personally know about that city is that it contains sections whose crime rates are terrible and that this has nothing to do with TV shows, the movies, or centuries gone by (though the actual crime rate has inspired a few shows ...). I also have personally been to Mexico (albeit Tijuana and Cancun).

The real truth is, in some cities, in some parts of the world, the crime rates have dwindled to being quite low ... and the relative expectation for a woman traveling alone safely is quite high ... while in other cities, in other parts of the world, the crime rates are much, much higher ... and the relative expectation for a woman traveling alone safely is quite a bit lower.

In closing, the good thing about the global media is, since the subject of this thread is traveling to another part of the globe than one's own town or city, which renders the crime rate in one's own city moot by default, is that by plugging into the global media one can decide whether the proposed point of destination on their agenda is really worth the risk, when all things (including the crime rate) are considered. The fact that in some foreign cities being accompanied by a military guard is recommended should be proof enough of this point, and so it would be my recommendation to the original poster that when the overall "ambience" of a place starts approaching this level of security that it would be wiser to select another place to travel.

Hopefully, we can at least agree on that,

Jack

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feppe
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« Reply #38 on: September 28, 2009, 12:34:19 PM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
I must admit I skimmed the link you provided, but it seemed to show mainly that the crime rate in Europe is much lower, percentage-wise, than the crime rate in the USA. Thus the fallacy that seems to have been committed is assuming that the comparatively lower crime rate in Europe nowadays is representative of USA, let alone Mexico City and other parts of the world.

No fallacy for US: here's a first-page google link to US homicide rate from a reputable source. There's been some pretty funny (or disturbing depending on how you look at it) research on the perception of homicide and violent crime rates - the two two are only loosely connected.

While this is not the place to really have this discussion, there has been some quite extensive research on historical deathtolls of wars, which show diminishing trends in the long term (centuries).

Quote from: JohnKoerner
That could be true with some people, just as I am sure it is true some people feel they can dismiss the very real issues of today's crime rate in bad areas by providing a weblink to an article that has nothing to do with them. I am also not sure any of us ever lived in a time where "the only town we knew was our own city," but even if this were true the city I grew up in was Los Angeles, which I can assure you that what I personally know about that city is that it contains sections whose crime rates are terrible and that this has nothing to do with TV shows, the movies, or centuries gone by (though the actual crime rate has inspired a few shows ...). I also have personally been to Mexico (albeit Tijuana and Cancun).

The real truth is, in some cities, in some parts of the world, the crime rates have dwindled to being quite low ... and the relative expectation for a woman traveling alone safely is quite high ... while in other cities, in other parts of the world, the crime rates are much, much higher ... and the relative expectation for a woman traveling alone safely is quite a bit lower.

In closing, the good thing about the global media is, since the subject of this thread is traveling to another part of the globe than one's own town or city, which renders the crime rate in one's own city moot by default, is that by plugging into the global media one can decide whether the proposed point of destination on their agenda is really worth the risk, when all things (including the crime rate) are considered. The fact that in some foreign cities being accompanied by a military guard is recommended should be proof enough of this point, and so it would be my recommendation to the original poster that when the overall "ambience" of a place starts approaching this level of security that it would be wiser to select another place to travel.

Hopefully, we can at least agree on that,

Anecdotal evidence is not data, it's a data point - the reason I pulled statistical data was because I was reading some wildly inaccurate generalizations about Spain, for example. There are some extremely violent murders in Finland, but it's still one of the safest places on earth. Making such generalizations just because a brother/cousin/I read it on the paper is generally ill-advised. There are several free and for-pay travel advisory services out there which have less biased data. Of course, local knowledge is always best.

Clearly I agree there are hotspots for violence, as well as calm locations. But by and large, humanity has become much more civil in the course of the past few centuries. LL thread lockdowns notwithstanding

As was clear from my original response, it was my strong recommendation to skip the trip, so we definitely agree there.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 12:42:50 PM by feppe » Logged

Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #39 on: September 28, 2009, 09:02:55 PM »
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If it's a really bad neighborhood, the best theft/assault preventive measure you can take is to have someone walk next to you carrying a loaded AK-47 (or tactical equivalent) who gives casual observers the distinct impression he or she knows how, and is willing to use it if necessary. Despite the best efforts of TV and Hollywood to give the opposite impression, the old west actually had a very low crime rate for this exact reason. The majority of people were armed, and only the extremely foolish or desperate were willing to risk their lives just to commit a robbery or whatever.

If you can't arrange for a friend with a "little friend", then canceling the trip might be prudent.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 09:04:04 PM by Jonathan Wienke » Logged

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