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Safety in Ecuador

I am a Canadian man, living in Vancouver.  I would like to visit and live in Ecuador for a few months and hopefully longer.  It seems like a wonderful country. I am a social worker and English language teacher. I would like to volunteer in these areas. However, the Canadian government website warns about a high level of crime against foreigners including armed robbery, assaults and kidnapping.  Can someone shed some light on this for me.

Armed robbery and kidnaping are rare outside the troubled areas that may include the Colombian border area, Guayaquil (Ecuador's largest and most dangerous city), south Quito and Lago Agrio (Sour Lake).

Armed robbery and kidnaping can occur in any city in the Western Hemisphere.  They are extremely unlikely in most places in Ecuador unless you make yourself a target.

Several years ago, an Expat's pregnant Ecuadorian wife went alone to a bank in Quito and withdrew a large sum of cash.  Somebody inside the bank may have signaled the withdrawal to confederates outside.

When the woman walked out of the bank, men on a motorcycle drove up to her and stole the money*.

cccmedia

*Details based on a post by the husband on expat.com Ecuador forum.

Thanks for the information ccc.  I'm new to this site and not sure exactly how it works. Is there a way to get input from other people living in Ecuador regarding safety. Is it worse than other places? I'm interested to hear what others think about the safety issue. You mentioned not making yourself a target. Other than flashing money and carrying expensive electronics can anyone offer any other tips.  Thanks

Vancouver Man :

Is there a way to get input from other people living in Ecuador regarding safety. Is it worse than other places? I'm interested to hear what others think about the safety issue. You mentioned not making yourself a target. Other than flashing money and carrying expensive electronics can anyone offer any other tips.

If someone bumps into you, possibly spilling something on you and offering to help clean you up, assume they have a partner who may try to rob you during the diversion.

Don't shake hands with strangers on the street.

Don't make eye contact with apparent beggars.

Don't accept food on the street.

Don't accept flyers or business cards on the street.

Don't wear jewelry on the street.

Stay alert on buses and around public places.

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Go to the Ecuador forum welcome page and enter safety in the search box to start navigating to threads about this topic.

cccmedia

Vancouver Man :

regarding safety. Is (Ecuador) worse than other places?

Apart from the problem places I mentioned earlier on this thread, Ecuador is one of the safest countries in South America, especially as regards the two crimes you cited in particular.  However, in the larger cities, so-called opportunity theft will be encountered by Expats.  This is when they let their guard down in busy places or on public transportation or somehow make it obvious they are carrying valuables.

Venezuela and Brazil are dangerous with regard to violent crime.  In Colombia, I'd avoid Bogotá, Cali, border areas, and nighttime roadways between Popayán and the Ecuadorian border.  El Poblado sector in Medellín .. and the Juan Valdez Coffee Zone communities are safer areas, although I'd avoid walking around the El Centro sectors of Pereira and Armenia after dark.

cccmedia

Cali is actually pretty safe - unless you are in a gang, involved with drugs, or conspicuously display your wealth, and/or are just in the wrong place at the wrong time where you stand out (and many North American and European foreigners do stand out, by appearance and speech).  This is true in any big city in Colombia and elsewhere in many countries, where many crimes as cccmedia points out are crimes of opportunity.   The mostly non-violent crimes can occur literally on the spur of the moment, or by one or more criminals following you until they see their chance.

There are no guarantees against crime anywhere.  If you do as most locals do - keep situational awareness at all times, even during the day, and go with a group when possible, and just don't put yourself in risky situations, most of the time you'll be fine.  Most of the time nothing good happens after midnight - don't tempt fate.

Don't carry large sums of cash, and don't carry a wallet in your back pocket with anything that you don't want to lose.  Carry at least some small bills in a pocket that you can give easily to satisfy a thief - they are not usually willing to take a lot of time searching you unless you have put yourself in a position where they feel they would be safe in doing so.

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