I've started this thread because A. My wife and I have 10 years experience working with groups of volunteers on the border. B. Because there are many Americans/foreigners I witness throughout the country which are completely oblivious to the threats that face them in the colonial zone (market santo Domingo) for example. While not inherently dangerous compared to my home town Detroit, this like many other developing countries, is one of opportunistic crime. Mostly petty theft and non violent larceny. (Grab and runs). I have over 15 years experience in Law Enforcement in the detroit area. I currently am a sworn reserve police officer in a small village outside Detroit. I also am an executive protection agent/international investigator for Gold Bull security here in the DR.
When prepping groups prior to on the ground deployment, assuming a pre-trip meeting takes place, is a great time to toss in some rules to follow in general. We cover with all of our groups (4-40 people) things like:
Don't bring your iPhone 6+ here and expect it not to get stolen the second you leave it on a table at a Pollo Rey. It's worth $1300 dollars. In perspective about 59,000 pesos. Average salary per month here is around 12-15,000 pesos. Instead bring an old cell phone that doesn't work and use that for pictures. If you have an international plan, swap the sim out into an older less tempting model. Keep in mind, some volunteers will not follow this advice or can't due to restrictions or availability of other devices. This brings me to point number 2. Be discreet. Do not put it in your back pocket or walk down the 27th of February chasing Pokemon. A moto will swipe it out of your hand in broad daylight. It's really just common sense security protocol. Every NGO needs to have a SOP (standard operating procedure) for security with on the ground mission teams. If you don't, make one. If you don't know how, email me I can assist and customize to a specific org or mission. Remember, you're in another culture. It's not for us to impose our culture and customs, but accept and work around the one you've been taken into with grace, understanding and humility.
Please be safe out there. Heads on a swivel hearts wide open.