I know, I have put this message out a few times. But, if a robbery, sexual assault or another serious crime can be prevented because 1 person read the message. Then, it was well worth being reminded of personal safety again.
Be ALERT during this NEW YEARS CELEBRATIONS. New Years celebrations will bring in tens of thousands of people from all over Ecuador hitting the coast and other popular tourists destinations. Some will come just with the intent to commit crime.
Please take some time to read this.
(I HAVE ALSO INCLUDED IN THIS ARTICLE WHY YOU SHOULD SIT BEHIND THE TAXI DRIVER)
Robberies increase BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the holidays.
SOME PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS – Most are common sense, but sometimes we just need to refresh and keep focused so that we don’t become the victim.
*** Be aware of robberies involving people on motorcycles staking out locations like restaurants, ATM’s, shopping centers, etc. When the time is right, they will approach and demand personal items, money, jewelry, your shopping bags, etc. They will usually brandish handguns or knives. Many of these crimes are quick. Give them what they want.
*** Home invasions / burglaries will be on the rise.
DON’T TRUST ANY ONE ! I hate to say this but, even your guardians, house cleaners and caretakers. When you are going out to a party or any other function, the people you count on and trust also know when you will be out. Only a few are bad, but those are the ones that will hurt you and rob you blind.
So limit what they know about your day-to-day movements and habits.
*** Be careful with the uniformed officers – Police and Transito.
Corruption from officials demanding money during the holidays could happen more often. When confronted. Call “911” immediately to report this. The government wants you to report this conduct immediately. The officials asking for a bribe will back down, so call 911 and ask for a supervisor to respond. Make sure to have witnesses available or drive to the nearest police station or transit office. BE VERY CAREFUL! BE tactful and think before you do anything first.
*** Be careful with fireworks. Many stuffed dolls (monigotes) will be thrown into fires at the stroke of midnight. Some have fireworks inside of them.
*** Watch out for pick pockets, people who bump into you.
*** Carry (NOTARIZED) copies of your Passport or Cedulas in your purse or wallet. Leave the originals at home. You can even carry a dummy wallet, purse or phone.
*** Limit the amount of money you carry. (Leave your credit cards and ATM cards at home.)
*** Limit the amount of jewelry or flashy items on your person.
*** Always give the robbers what they demand. They will take and go.
*** Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Criminals often target people who are distracted.
*** Whether driving, walking or taking public transportation, plan the trip in advance. Know how to get to your destination by the most direct and safest route.
*** Watch your personal stuff, backpacks etc. when on busses. Do not put any bags on the floor or overhead storage, hold them on your lap. Sneaky criminals will drag them from under your seat and steal your personal items.
*** Make it a habit to always look back at your seat when getting out of a taxi or bus. Don’t leave your holiday gifts or other personal stuff behind.
*** Travel on populated, well lit streets. If possible, travel with a friend.
*** Many of you will be celebrating and drinking, please be careful, taxis and other criminals will target you if you had too much to drink.
*** Take Yellow, marked taxis or any other reputable taxi company. Sit behind the driver, don’t take out your phone, know the fare amount, try to have the exact fare amount on hand. Don’t flash any merchandise or money. If you get a bad vibe, act and get out.
*** If you suspect or know that the taxi driver is going the wrong way, be polite and ask the driver to stop so you can pee on the side of the street or that you have to throw up. GET THE F*** OUT OF THE TAXI ! (In a well populated location if possible)
*** If you see that the driver is making a phone call once you get in the taxi and looking back at you, changes directions or tells you he needs he needs to make a stop. GET THE F*** OUT !!! (In a well populated location if possible)
*** Never let the taxi driver pick up other passengers period.
*** Avoid leaving valuables in your car. Whenever possible, place items out of sight in the trunk of your vehicle prior to reaching your destination. Never leave packages in the passenger compartment unattended.
*** Plan your purchases in advance and carry only the amount of cash or (try to avoid carrying your credit cards or ATM cards) or credit cards necessary to make the purchase. If you must carry a large sum of money, divide the cash between your purse, pockets and wallet.
*** Carry your purse close to your body. Place one end of the purse in the palm of your hand and the other in the bend of the elbow. Never wrap the strap around your body.
*** If you are carrying a wallet, carry it in the breast pocket of your jacket or in your side pants pocket. The rear pants pocket is the easiest to pick.
*** When in a restaurant, don’t leave your handbag over the back of your chair or on the floor. Don’t leave belongings unattended.
*** Keep an eye out for dishonest servers in restaurants. You put valuables on the table like your I-phones, cameras etc.
*** Don’t wait until you have reached your front door to look for your keys. Have them ready in your hand. If a stranger is standing near your door, it may be a good idea not to go in until the situation feels safer.
*** Lock your front door immediately upon entering your home.
*** If you live in an apartment building, don’t buzz in someone who rings your bell until you have verified who they are. This will help protect both you and your neighbors.
*** Be wary of con artists. Con artists use a number of ploys to trick you and steal your property. Some divert your attention while another picks your pocket, some pose as utility workers or as a trades person to gain access to the inside of your home, while others conduct scams that are more elaborate involving several con artists.
*** As a consumer you should avoid illegal vendors selling goods on the street. Purchase merchandise only from licensed vendors or reputable stores. Follow your instincts. Remember, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.
Install the app – ECU911 on your android or Iphone.
These are just some but very important tips for day-to-day personal safety and security.
***********I have been asked a few times why sitting behind the taxi driver is the safest.************
Sitting behind the taxi driver is the safest from my personal experiences as a detective in the New York City Police Department and working as a decoy with over 100 times being robbed while targeting criminals that rob passengers on taxis, trains and busses. I have also worked directly with the NYC taxi and Limo commission (TLC) in enforcement, targeting cab drivers. I was also deployed as a decoy cab driver picking up passengers in high crime areas known for robbing taxi drivers all over Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
In Ecuador, taxis with a safety partition that separates the driver and the passenger are very rare. So this is related for cabs that do not have any kind of partitions.
- Sitting behind the driver you have more control of your safety and can do more to effectively take action if something serious happens.
- Seeing the cab drivers hands is great, but most of the time, the seat in front of you is blocking your view of their hands. Their right hand is shifting and the left is on the wheel. So you will almost always see their left hand on the wheel.
- You have quicker reaction to grab the driver from behind if your safety is jeopardized. Choke hold with your arms. You can also use their chest seat belt to wrap around their neck. (for Self DEFENSE only) In Ecuador it is a law that the driver wears a seatbelt.
- Most people are right-handed. If the driver pulls out a gun with their right hand they will have to switch to the left hand and point the gun across their chest and turn around to face you. Even if they stop the cab to grab their gun or knife with the right hand they then will have to completely turn their body to face you while displaying the weapon with their right hand.
- You might also be able to kick the back of their seat with both legs and push it forward so that it limits the space they have and keeps distance between you and them.
- When you are sitting behind the driver, you can see the driver side door compartment. Some might stash weapons there. You might be able to see a weapon. Another place to stash weapons is under the driver side seat. When you notice them bending down to reach under their seat a red flag should go off. If you are sitting behind the driver, you can see the glove compartment. If they stash a weapon in there you will be able to see it and react faster.
- When you get inside the cab and sit behind the driver, you might notice the driver adjusting their rear view mirror to see you. That is normal. But if you see them being very uncomfortable and adjusting to SEE you a lot more, a red flag must go up. If the taxi driver tells you to sit behind the front passenger seat, refuse and get out.
- Another safety issue is that the taxi driver will avoid turning into the driver side during an accident. They will turn to the right side where it is exposed more to an impact in a collision.
- If you sit behind the front passenger seat here are the cons. Your reaction time is greater to get out of the line of sight if a weapon is pointed at you.
- When you sit inside a taxi you put your backpacks, bags etc.. on the seat next to you, which is behind the driver. This will make it very hard for you to get behind the driver if they lock your doors.
- If you understand their language, it’s easier to hear their conversation if they get on their cell phone to tell other criminals where to meet to rob you.
- If you have to look at you phone or take out money from you purse or wallet to pay for the fare, they can’t see what you are doing if behind the driver.
- Most of the cab placards or ID tags are hung behind the driver. Hard to see it if you are on the other side. If in trouble, yank the placard off the taxi and run.
This is just a few safety tips and the reason why you should sit behind the driver.
Lastly and most important. Avoid violent confrontations. Give them what they want and get out of the taxi safely. Most injuries happen when one resists.
Stay ALERT and stay safe always.