Safe travels in Peru: what to do when you get robbed in Cusco ?
Travelling to Peru for many is a trip of a lifetime. Miles away from home you will find yourself immersed in Peruvian culture. Many people, especially in the Andean regions and in Cusco, are dressed in traditional clothes. You will find people selling traditional Peruvian meals on the streets. There are so many things to see and do in Peru and so many things to discover. People offering handcraft articles, artesania, at the local markets of Pisac or Cusco. Others inviting you to visit their restaurants, or want to take you to their hotels. And all the beauty around you: the landscape, the scenery, and the Inca ruins full of history. A trip to Peru is a guaranteed success and you will travel back home full of amazing memories.
Just be careful to not let all the excitement and the cultural shock –if any – make you forget to be cautious. Especially when walking on the streets, in busy areas, at night, be careful. Also in Cusco, there are beggars in the streets, asking for money. But also there are pickpockets that don’t ask for money but just take it. This is not only common for tourists, but also Peruvians are victims. However, as a foreign traveler, you will always be a target. Pay special attention in busy places such as on buses and at San Pedro Market in Cusco. It sounds almost cliché, it’s kind of obvious, but yes, keep your bag in front of you and keep an eye on it at all times. Other tips for not being robbed in Peru are: never walk alone in an abandoned street, don’t walk alone on the street late at night, always walk in the lit areas, don’t walk with ear phones, don’t carry valuable jewelry. Another important tip: if you take a taxi (especially) late at night, make sure it is an official, registered taxi and not just ‘anyone’, with a sticker “Taxi” on the window. You can recognize official taxis by the sign on the roof of the car with the name of the company, the phone number and/or the logo or company name on the doors of the car.
But then still things can go wrong. I got robbed myself from my phone when I left San Pedro market in Cusco. Leaving the roofed market , I thought it would be safe to wear my bag on my back again. As soon as I did that, very casually I got blocked in a busy street close to the market area. I was surrounded by people going in all directions on the sidewalk. I couldn`t go anywhere so I needed to stand still for just a few seconds. That is when it must have happened, because minutes later, entering a shop, an employee told me my bag was open. Phone was gone.
Do not let these stories keep you from travelling to Peru though. The same thing could happen to you in any (Western) city in the world. Also keep in mind that everything in Peru is relatively cheap. Buying a new phone in Cusco was almost a delight. I bought one for 199 soles (approx. US $ 70 at the time of writing) and it has all the functions I need (Whatsapp, Facebook) and it is actually a lot faster than my old phone. I am not saying I was happy with the theft of my phone, but yes, I am happy now with my new toy. I did not let this incident scare me and I will certainly enjoy the rest of my stay in Cusco and in Peru.
Finally, what to do when you get robbed in Cusco? First of all, go to the police within 24 hours. There is a special tourist police in Cusco in the city center. I first went to an internet café to change all my passwords: email, facebook, online bank account, couch surf account, and every other thing I could think of. Also remember to clock the SIM card of your phone, but in my case that could not be done due to the closed office of my provider. Because I was running out of time and I was busy during the rest of the week, I went to the police a week later, as I needed a police report to send to my insurance company. At first they didn’t want to file my complaint because I was too late. After pushing it they finally wrote a report.
Luckily for me it was ‘just’ my phone that got stolen. I did lose a lot of precious photos that I didn’t backup, but worst things could have happened. My wallet, passport or credit card could have been stolen. If something like this happens to you, block your card right away! Always make sure you have a phone number of your credit card company so you can take action instantly. After blocking your card always go to the police.
In case your passport gets stolen contact the embassy of your country. You will need a new passport to be able to go back home or to continue your journey to other Latinamerican countries. Your embassy will help you out and give you an emergency passport. This document will only be valid for the journey that you specified when you applied and for a specific period of time. This will be shown on the document.
Some useful addresses:
Tourism Police Cusco
Calle Shapy 510,
084 249 654
Torre Parque Mar
Avenida Jose Larco 1301,
+51 1213 9800
United Kingdom Embassy
Torre Parque Mar
Avenida Jose Larco 1301
+ 51 1617 3000
Avenida Arequipa 4210
+51 1 203 5940
Avenida La Encalada cdra. 17 s/n
Surco, Lima 33, Peru
+51 1618 2000