SECURITY NOTICE American Embassy Dar es Salaam
Year End Security Notice
January 17, 2013
During the year-end Holiday season hardened criminals, the marginally employed, and even some freelancing security personnel worked diligently to raise capital. Their efforts contributed to an apparent seasonal crime wave. The methods were the same as always and fell into a few categories. Basic categories of crimes repeated morning, noon, and night:
· Bag Snatching
· Bad Taxi Rides—ATM Express Kidnappings
· Burglaries and burglary attempts Some basic concepts to counter crime:
· Be alert
· Minimize your exposure
· Use security equipment
· Trust your instincts
· If you see something, say something–report it to RSO
Additional tips and in-depth security reminders are at the end of this tome. While I have your attention, one thing that has become a life and death matter is bags. Please do not carry them. Anywhere. Ever. You need to adapt to the environment that you are in–not pretend that you are back home. If you ignore this advice and insist on carrying a bag please recognize that all the information that you have received about how to safeguard your bag in the rest of the world can get you killed in Tanzania.
“Security Experts” may have told you to carry a bag with the shoulder strap across your chest or to carry a backpack strapped through both arms. That may be marginally effective in preventing a pedestrian criminal from easily running off with your bag–if he is alone and operating without confederates. But in Tanzania the more serious problem is vehicle-borne bag snatching. Strong straps across your chest make it difficult-to-impossible to get free if a criminal in a vehicle grabs the bag and drags you down the street. A few months ago a Greek doctor was killed during a bag snatch when she couldn’t free herself and the vehicle dragged her along until her head struck the curb. So please don’t carry bags. Just carry a bit of cash in your pocket and leave your bag at home.
If you are determined to ignore this advice then consider holding a bag in one hand so a criminal can easily steal it without killing you in the process. Below are incidents from the past couple of months that were reported to the RSO. They remind us about the importance of taking care of family and friends. Material goods don’t matter too much, but if criminals are after poorly secured material goods they may end up harming someone and that really matters. This is a long notice. If you get tired of reading then skip to the end to refresh yourself on security tips. Please forward, print, and distribute to family and visitors.
Zanzibar Updates: There were numerous reports of bag and camera snatching in Stonetown. There were also some reports about smaller hotels falling victims to a gang of invaders who tied up lone night time guards and robbed guests. Larger hotels with more established security might be a good option. There was also some religious violence that included throwing acid in the face of a Muslim cleric and the shooting of a Priest on Christmas Day. Zanzibar is a great place to relax but you cannot afford to let your guard down. Minimize what you bring with you and do your best to maintain alertness–even while on vacation.
Security Reminders: This is a reminder that whether in the U.S. or overseas there is always the potential for the threat of harassment, violence, or criminal acts. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase your security awareness. Keep a low profile while commuting, doing errands, or pursuing leisure activities.
Pedestrians, Joggers, Cyclists:
Activities such as jogging, cycling and walking in areas such as Coco Beach are risky. If you are going to engage in them then maximize your awareness and minimize the down side:
· Ban backpacks and purses. They attract thieves.
· Select routes where you can run, walk, or bike on the shoulder. Consider heading “counter flow” so you can see the traffic (if it is safe to do so).
· Don’t wear headphones. If you insist, then only wear one earpiece so you can listen to the area around you.
· Don’t be alone. Make a friend. Walking, jogging, or biking alone is a bad idea.
· Where/When: Location and time of day are key factors. Never walk, run or bike after dark. You’re invisible to traffic but highly visible to thieves.
· Consider wearing bright reflective clothing so you stand out.
· AVOID walking/biking near: Toure Drive, Coco Beach, Ubungo Bus Station, South Beach Ferry area or any place where there aren’t houses on both sides of the road. Assailants like to hide in/escape to areas with brush and/or areas with crowds. If you go to the South Beach Ferry or the Ubungo Bus Station then arrive and depart in a secured vehicle.
Maximize Awareness/Minimize Risk:
· Download your wallet and your stuff. No flashy watches, jewelry or Ipods. Just carry a concealed cell phone and the minimum amount of cash that you need that day.
· DO NOT CARRY ATM, CREDIT or DEBIT CARDS or you may find yourself on a tour of a lifetime visiting ATM machines until your credit limit is maxed out.
· International criminal groups are stealing debit and credit card information using sophisticated card skimming hardware and software. There is a history in Dar of card “skimming” and RSO strongly urges you not to use ATMs but instead to obtain cash from the Embassy cashier. Also advise your TDY personnel to bring and cash checks at the Embassy rather than to utilize ATMs.
· Carry your phone(s) with you at all times with the ringer on.
· Vary your times and routes; change your schedule and routine.
· Be aware of your surroundings.
· Lock your doors.
· Close your windows.
· Set the alarm (if you have one) when you park.
· Secure bags in the trunk or leave them at home. Bags attract thieves. Cars are glass boxes. If you leave a bag on the seat someone may break the glass.
· Secure (and hide) all electronic items: cell phone, GPS, IPod, I Pad, computer, and handheld radios.
· If you are driving around Dar late at night be especially cautious when stopped at traffic lights. In order to avoid assault at isolated intersections, some drivers refuse to stop at lights and decide to proceed cautiously after slowing down. That may help to avoid an assault but it also means that all intersections are really dangerous at night whether you have a green light or not.
· When driving in traffic ensure you leave adequate space between your car and the vehicle ahead. Maintaining a space cushion in front of you is particularly important when stopped in traffic. The practice enables you to maneuver your way out of a sticky situation.
· Refill your gas tank anytime it is half full to avoid running out of gas at a bad time or place.
· Take legitimate taxis from a car service, hotel, or restaurant. See Management Notice No. 08/2013 dated January 13, 2013, which provides a list of legitimate car and taxi services.
· Photograph the front or back of the taxi showing the license plate and send it to a friend.
· Ask for the driver’s name and cell (implies future business) and send it to a friend.
· Test the doors and windows before you get in. Child locked doors and tinted windows are a bad sign. Find another cab.
· Don’t take bajajs, daladalas, or hail unknown taxis on the street.
· Don’t take taxis hailed by people you just met.
· Don’t take taxis that have other passengers in them.
· If a taxi stops for gas get out.
· If a taxi stops for other passengers get out.
· Lock all doors and security grills–especially at night. Your guards should check to ensure that they are secured while making their nighttime rounds.
· Ensure windows and fire escape grills are secured.
· Secure your safe-haven at night. Ensure your emergency radio, cell phones, and telephones are in place and function.
· Use your alarm system. Ensure the members of your household know where the alarm panic buttons are and how to use them.
· Advise your guard and test your (and his) panic buttons on a monthly basis.
· Your first warning that there are intruders may be the sound of your alarm, which the guard will activate if there is danger.
· If the alarm sounds or you believe someone is trying to forcibly enter your property or home, move your family to the safe haven and secure it.
· Activate the alarm using the panic button or keypad if it hasn’t been activated already. You must employ the security measures for them to be effective.
Maximize your awareness and minimize your risks.
· Share this notice with family, friends and TDY personnel. This email is UNCLASSIFIED.
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