Crime And Police In Italy

Crime in Italy is at lower levels than in the UK or the US. The information on these pages will give an awareness of possible problems and how to protect yourself against crime in Italy.


There is a mistaken belief that Italy is rife with crime but this is largely untrue. In Italy you won’t see the harmful public drunkenness that can be a problem in Britain, or violent street crime as in many US cities.

Italy is a relatively crime free country. Certainly there is organised crime – from the Sicilian Mafia and Neapolitan Camorra to high-level corporate crime, but these rarely have an impact on the ordinary visitor to Italy. Meanwhile, domestic violence is the most widely reported violent crime in Italy.

However there are some crimes to be aware of:

Pickpockets – Fagin would be proud of the bands of street urchins that work the tourists. They usually work in pairs or groups and while one lot are distracting the tourist’s attention, another is pick pocketing them.

In one routine, one thief throws something at the victim, a second thief assists them in cleaning up the mess, and the third discreetly takes the victim's belongings.

Another trick, usually carried out on public transport, is to slit the bottom of the victim’s handbag and walk off with the contents.

Avoid these types of crimes by being aware:

  • Don’t flash expensive goods such as cameras about.
  • Keep your money in a money belt.
  • Split up your money and keep cards and passports in separate places.
  • Wear a handbag with a strap short enough to tuck firmly under your arm, but not long enough to dangle freely from your shoulder.

Car Crime – most car crimes are petty. Cars parked near beaches during the summer have been broken into and had items stolen. Robbers take things from cars at petrol stations often by smashing car windows. There have been incidents of car-jacking, but these are few.

To avoid petty car crime keep your valuables out of sight. Don’t leave belongings on the seats.

The Police

There are a number of different forces that you should be aware of in case you need to contact the police.

Carabinieri –wear military type uniforms with white shoulder belts. They handle general crime, drug offences and public order.

Polizia Statale – assaults and thefts should be reported to them.

Vigili Urbani – direct traffic and issue parking fines in the cities.

Polizia Stradale – take care of crime and traffic offences on the motorways.

If you are a victim of a crime your first call should be at the local police station or Questura where they also deal with lost passports and other formalities.

Emergency Phone Numbers:

  • 112 for the Carabinieri.
  • 113 for general emergencies.
  • 115 for the fire service.
  • 116 for roadside assistance.
  • 118 for an ambulance.
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