Posted by on
The Dominican Republic is friendly and welcoming and the vast majority of visits to the country are trouble-free. However, there is a high crime rate, ranging from opportunistic crime like bag-snatching and pick-pocketing to violent crime. But when you think of the Dominican Republic, you may associate it with relatively unsafe countries in the region, like Jamaica, Venezuela, or Colombia. Even though the DR is safer than those countries, the threat of crimes remains high, so make sure to be aware of the most common crimes.
Petty crime, including pickpocketing and robbery takes place across the country. Don’t wear expensive jewellery or carry large amounts of cash or valuable items like smart phones or cameras on the street. Keep electronic devices out of sight and use a hotel safe whenever possible. Don’t leave your bags or other possessions on chairs or tables in restaurants or bars.
Drive-by robberies can occur, where thieves on motorcycles snatch bags and valuables from pedestrians and sometimes reach through the windows of cars at red lights to steal belongings. Victims are sometimes hurt in the process. Keep valuables out of sight, and if you have a bag with you, carry it on the side away from the street. If travelling in a car, drive with doors locked and windows closed.
Violent crime and armed robberies against foreigners do sometimes take place, particularly in large cities. There have been a number of incidents in Santo Domingo where foreigners have been mugged at gunpoint or knifepoint during the daytime while walking in residential districts.
Take particular care at night and in remote areas. If you’re robbed, don’t resist, as this increases the risk of being hurt. Be aware that your attacker may be armed, even if you cannot see a weapon. Don’t use unregistered taxis, or hail a taxi on the street: use an authorised airport or hotel taxi service, or book a taxi from a reliable provider.
Incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against foreigners have occurred, including at beach resorts. In some cases, hotel employees or fellow guests have been implicated. Be cautious when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, be wary of rides or other invitations, avoid walking alone at night and don’t leave drinks unattended.
If you’re a victim of a sexual assault or other crime, you should report it immediately to your Embassy. Consular staff can help you to report the incident with local authorities if you wish to do so, explaining the process and assisting with the language barrier if required. No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Dominican authorities before departing the country.
If you lose your passport or it is stolen, a police report should be obtained before contacting your Embassy. The English speaking tourist police (CESTUR) can be contacted on +1-809-200-3500.