Statistics for street crime in Buenos Aires are difficult to access, and visitors have to rely on the personal experiences of others - some good, some bad.
Before my first visit to Buenos Aires, I poured through the blogs and sites to review the merits of the various barios. Should it be the 'leafy Palermo', middle class Recoleta, Carlos Gardel's Almagro or the edgy San Telmo? Well, congratulations on your choice of San Telmo for your stay. San Telmo is still very much a village, with a fairly static resident population, an exciting artistic side, and of course, plenty of tango.
San Telmo is intrinsically safe. Most street crimes occur in the tourist areas of Av Mayo and the Micro Centre, as well as on the subte, where conscious care is necessary. It is unwise to take risks, especially after dark, but you should not be inhibited from walking in the streets of San Telmo. Here, we set out ten suggestions for keeping safe in this busy city.
Our top ten hints
- Carry only what you need, and nothing more. Keep your house keys accessible on a key-back.
- Avoid wearing watches, jewellery (including costume jewellery) or cameras that will draw attention. A £15 water resistant watch need not be removed at customs.
- When drawing cash, ensure that it is safely placed before you leave the ATM; and secure your wallet or purse before leaving shops.
- Never keep cash in a back pocket, and split larger amounts between bags or wallets. Consider carrying a 'false wallet' - with expired credit card and small notes.
- Choose your handbag with care. A rucksack style bag is less easy to dip or snatch, and the clear plastic variety has advantages. Attach it with an alarm. In busy areas, carry a bag to your front rather than your back.
- Take only radio taxis, write down your destination before you leave, and hand it to the driver. For your return journey, carry a piece of paper with your address in San Telmo. Keep small notes to one side for your taxi fare.
- Keep your sube pass handy before entering the subte or boarding the colectivo. Take extra care on the subte, planning your journey in advance.
- In cafes or restaurants, avoid putting your bag or sack on the floor or pavement. Keep it secure on your lap, attach to your leg, or use the high shelves provided in some cafes.
- When out and about, if a stranger/s approach you (especially on a motorcycle) do not engage - stranger contact is not part of the culture here. Move into the road/open space and draw attention. ’'Spray and help' - the old trick of spraying green or grey paste and then offering to help clean your clothes - this means danger. Disengage and move away immediately.
- Walk with purpose. Those who appear diffident are visible targets for street crime.