Is traveling in the USA dangerous

Security in the US - High crime rate

If you venture into large cities in the USA, everyday life is often to be enjoyed with caution. Especially since US citizens and immigrants with a permanent residence permit (green card) are allowed to acquire a weapon, security often suffers enormously.

Table of Contents
Searching for private property | Current security situation | Precautions against petty crime | Emergency numbers in Germany | Traveling by car | Further general information on behavior

Security is a particularly sensitive issue. Of course, as is well known from the media, the crime rate is particularly high. But as macabre as it may be: the tourist is usually not affected by this. The statistical probability of falling victim to a traffic accident in Germany is higher than that of falling victim to a violent crime as a tourist in the USA. The sensational reports in the local media, which highlight individual cases, cannot hide this.

So that no wrong impression arises: we do not want to play down, because special safety aspects should definitely be taken to heart, but there is also no reason to panic.

First of all, the general rule is that crime - as here too - must be viewed in a differentiated manner. It is considerably higher in the anonymity of the big cities than in the sparsely populated country, where you know each other. The social hot spots, especially in the housing estates of socially disadvantaged ethnic "fringe groups", should also be considered as a peculiarity that is only partially known to Europeans. "No-go areasYou should definitely stay away from these areas at night, and possibly also during the day. If there is still an attraction there that is worth visiting, you should go to it by taxi or in a group.

In a country where access to firearms is easy, "hero games" are forbidden. Of course, arming yourself is not a suitable means either, and if the worst comes to the worst, it would lead to difficulties with the police anyway.

What is required is simply common sense and an observation of the area. The transition from an unproblematic part of the city to a risk area can be on the next side of the street. However, if you watch carefully, you will also perceive such changes and avoid lonely paths or neglected areas, for example. Act as (self) confident as possible, but avoid provocations, especially when dealing with several young people.

Otherwise, the general rule applies: Where there are many people, violent crimes do not take place (however, so-called petty crimes such as theft are more likely to occur here). However, if you become a victim of a robbery, the same rule applies here as well: Do not provoke the perpetrator and let him have his way. Any resistance is dangerous and can lead to unpredictable reactions. Deaths involving tourists were often triggered by the victim resisting or simply not understanding the perpetrator. A small part of the money should be easily accessible as "booty" in such a case.

Searching for private property

Particular caution applies, however, to unannounced visits to private American properties. According to the so-called "Castle Doctrine“Everyone has the right to defend himself and his home with all means at his disposal - including armed force. So anyone who shoots someone because they think they are a burglar in the house can appeal to self-defense in the USA. Many states have extended the scope of protection of the doctrine to the entire property, in Texas, for example, the car is also legally part of the "extended“Home of your own. Some concern has been raised by the fact that in early October 2005 in the state Florida a new law has come into force, which guarantees the absolute right of every single citizen to self-defense in public. The Senate Bill 436 with the subtitle "Stand Your Ground Bill" (translates as "Law for asserting one's own position") extends the so-called "Law for asserting one's own position", which is valid throughout the USA and is derived from English customary law.Castle Doctrine". In Florida, every citizen can now end an alleged attack, for example in traffic, in a pub or supermarket, with gun violence without penalty, he only has to feel threatened in his integrity by the behavior of his counterpart, only against police officers this right of self-defense does not apply.

Current security situation

Who wants to be sure if it is acute security problems can see the Federal Foreign Office's recommendations on the Internet. Even better, because it is updated daily from Monday to Friday, the website Spots by AIR SECURITY International, Inc. provides information in English about risks for travelers all over the world. The FBI issues an annual report on the security situation in the USA.

Precautions against petty crime

As I said, the main problems of the average tourist do not lie in possible violent crimes, but in petty crime. And here are the rules that should be observed on any trip to any country. The following are to be mentioned in particular:

  • money you should only carry it with you to the extent necessary and distribute it on your body if possible, so part in the wallet or wallet (the "booty"), part in the socks and part in the neck pouch, the shoulder holster or the - invisible - belt pouch or money belt.
  • Travelers checks, proof of purchase of the travelers checks and at least one credit card if possible in Hotel safe (safety deposit box) to let. At least every hotel reception has such a safe, as this is required in order to exclude the hotel's liability for stolen objects. In better hotels you can also find a safe in the room. Travelers checks and credit cards are replaced relatively quickly if lost and are therefore a useful part of the travel budget, see Money for more information. The passport and the flight tickets should also "wait" in the hotel safe Copies sufficient or the identity card is sufficient. In all cases, it is advisable to make copies of all important documents, including the flight ticket, and to keep them separately
  • Aside from the "booty", everyone should Valuables and important papers Not "obviously", so to be worn under clothing on the body.
  • Handbags Do not hang loosely over your shoulder (they can be torn away very easily), but with the strap across your head and so that they are not on the side of the road (easy prey for cyclists and motorbikes). It's hard to deny the tourist. Professional thieves have a focused eye and can distinguish nationalities based on jeans, T-shirts, etc. Nevertheless, it cannot hurt to try to find out if possible "American"to dress (whatever that may be).
  • A Fanny pack makes sense if you are among many people. In the evenings and on lonely paths, however, it is an unmistakable attraction and should therefore be left in the hotel. The White Ring and criminal police advice centers recommend "Busch’s body safe“, Which has two safety locks on the back towards the body and can be worn directly connected to the belt. This is quite bulky and doesn't look very chic, but we've also had good experiences. You can now buy this at many points of sale, including on the Internet. For example on Amazon.
  • Jewellery should only be placed in safe places and is otherwise an unmistakable sign of a worthwhile sacrifice.
  • At Subway stops always wait in the security area. Here you can either find a servant or a camera. The safety areas are specially marked and can be requested at the counter if necessary. In rush hour traffic, subways are safe from theft - largely safe. Outside these times, you should get on as close as possible to a member of staff (usually at the front).
  • Strangers or casual acquaintances no personal details or Hotel room numbers notify.
  • in the hotel Always lock the room door from the inside. Never open the room door without a security chain and first look through the peephole. Ask for ID for strangers and ask at reception if you are suspicious. Keep windows closed. In every hotel room, the escape route in the event of a fire is usually posted on the room door. You should always take the time to take a quick look at this escape route, because in the event of a fire the time is usually short and the risk of rapid smoke inhalation is high.

Emergency numbers in Germany

And yet: every 23 seconds, somewhere on earth, a German holidaymaker is the victim of a theft, fraud, assault or traffic accident. Pickpocketing only takes an average of four seconds. The most important telephone numbers for Germany in the event of damage:

  • Foreign Office (names the next embassy): 01888-170
    Card emergency
  • EC card: 01805-02 10 21
  • Visa: 0130-81 49 10 / 069-75 76 10 00
  • Eurocard / Mastercard: 069-79 33 19 10
  • Diners Club: 05921-861234 / 069-26 03 50
  • American Express: 069-97 9777 77 / 069-26 03 58

Note: There has been one since July 1, 2005 uniform blocking number In the Federal Republic of Germany: +49 116 116. Within Germany the call is free, from abroad you have to pay the call costs. The complete list of the affiliated organizations is available on the Internet at

Travelers checks is available from Thomas Cook on 0130-85 99 30 and from American Express on 0130-85 31 00. Instant cash transfers are possible via Western Union (0180-52 28 22) and MoneyGram (00800-82 82 82 09). A nationwide information telephone and a victim emergency number for crime victims are available on 01803 34 34 34. For the transfer, see also transferring cash from home.

Traveling by car

When driving through cities the Lock doorsis the best way to prevent theft. Incidentally, in many types of cars, the central locking happens automatically as soon as you start the car. Will the own (rental) car rammed, the recommendation applies: do not stop under any circumstances, but go to the next "public"Drive on to the next place (e.g. at a gas station) and only leave the vehicle there and call the police. Of course, this also applies if someone behind you flashes the headlights or activates the hazard warning lights; you should only check your own car in the safe area.

But consider soberly that you legally obliged to provide assistance in the event of an accident are. Therefore, keep a cool head as possible and try to assess the respective situation soberly. There are high penalties for hit and run. In the event of personal injury, call the police on the emergency number below. All accidents involving personal injury or property damage over $ 500 must be reported in writing to the police within 10 days.

If you have damaged a parked car, you do not have to wait, you can leave your contact address on the parked vehicle and inform the police afterwards. It is generally advisable, as a tourist, to call in the police in the event of accidents of any kind. It is also helpful to have a local contact person at the car rental company or the insurance company you have taken out, especially a legal protection insurance for motor vehicles.

If you have any problems, this is Emergency number Police (including fire and ambulances) across the United States 911. If the traffic comes to a standstill, it's one sufficient distance to the vehicle in front of you to stop in order to be able to drive past it if necessary. Incidentally, rental car companies are obliged to draw their customers' attention to danger areas and to hand over maps that enable a safe journey (to the hotel, etc.). By the way, the days when rental cars were clearly recognizable as such are over. Nevertheless, caution is advised when picking up the rental car upon arrival in the evening (see the recommendations for first-time visitors), because what use are the best recommendations if you cannot heed them because you have simply lost your way in the dark.

Did you get lost: never stop by the roadsideTo read the map, go to a well-lit "public square". Nor should one stop in the street to ask anyone for directions. There are problems with the vehicle larger streets, then in the USA the recommendation applies: lock the doors, switch on the hazard warning lights and wait for the police to arrive. Of course are too Hitchhikers taboo (not only in prison areas, to which special attention is drawn by signs on the streets).

Emergency telephones be called Call box and contain a telephone receiver in the housing. If you take it off, you are automatically connected to the emergency call center. Luggage and valuables should not be left in the car. If this is unavoidable, e.g. because of a stopover, they should at least not be visible from the outside, i.e. disappear in the trunk or glove compartment.

The police is not the friend and helper of the local kind. It is - as is well known from American crime novels - quite rough in practice, as the other side knows no scruples either. If you are ever stopped by the police, behave calmly and deliberately. The chasing police car will turn on its blue / red light and drive behind you. Then stop on the side of the road, sit in the car and keep your hands visible on the steering wheel. In no case, do not nibble in your jacket, bag or glove compartment looking for your papers. The police officer could interpret this as a search for a weapon and act.

Further general information on behavior

Not in the area "security", but in connection with violations of the law the following are"regulate"to see which one should pay attention to in order not to come into conflict with the law yourself:

  • Drug possession, distribution and use are strictly forbidden and can lead to long prison sentences.
  • The Moving in public (for example on the beach) is seen as arousing public nuisance and can be punished - not just with a fine
  • Nude bathing is illegal - even for small children - it is only tolerated on certain beaches.
  • In the US it is illegal to Children under 12 years unattended allow. So don't leave your children alone in the hotel room for a short time. Violations can result in severe penalties.