Safety Tips

Limit the amount of cash you carry. We recommend not carrying more than $50.00 in cash on your person while you are out in public. Bring debit/credit cards. For longer stays, you can also use your ATM card to get additional cash during your stay. The few dollars you might pay in fees are well worth it to prevent losing hundreds of dollars in cash that cannot be replaced.

Keep your wallet/money/purse close to and in front of your body.
Wear your purse or bag with the strap across your chest. If your wallet and/or money is in a larger bag, make sure it is in a secured section away from the front/outside of the bag where someone might just reach in and grab it. In crowds, it is particularly important to be aware of your wallet and/or money and keep it close to you. Try and limit the amount of time you have your phone/mp3 player/technology out, particularly on the metro. It is easy to take something out of your hand, especially when you are paying attention to it instead of the people around you.

Do not go out alone at night.
Avoid going into unfamiliar areas of the city alone. We recommend against being out alone after 11:00 p.m. If you are going to an unfamiliar area, be sure you know how to get there and try to travel with a group. If you have a specific address, make sure you are going to the correct quadrant of the city, i.e. Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE) etc. The quadrant will be given after the street address. The Capitol Building is used as the center of the city, with NW, NE, SW and SE radiating outward.

Be aware of the people around you.
Especially at night, pay attention to the people around you. If you feel that someone suspicious is watching you or following you, try to get to an area of the street where there are more people, or enter a store, restaurant or other public place. Often, just paying attention to the people near you is enough to ward off most pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Don’t let yourself be distracted, as pickpockets can work in pairs. Never go near a car to answer a question. Be alert!

Try not to look like an out-of-towner/tourist.
When you’re out in public, don’t wear a seminar name badge in a visible place. Try to know where you are going and study your map before you go out. If you do look at a map while you are out on the street, try to be discrete. Criminals may sometimes target people who show obvious signs of being visitors.

Have a record of all the valuables in your wallet/purse.
Record the numbers of your credit cards, ATM cards, driver’s license, etc. Also have the phone numbers for the credit card companies, banks, etc., that you would need to call to cancel your cards if they are lost or stolen. Leave a copy of this with someone back home, and bring a copy with you that you keep somewhere in your luggage separately from your wallet. This information will be very helpful for you and the police if your wallet is lost or stolen.