Unfortunately one of the downsides of modern life is that we have all seen an increase in crime in our countries. Here we give you a guide of what to look out for. Safety lies in being aware and taking suitable precautions.
Organised crime is indeed a problem in Turkey at the present time, with criminal groups being currently active in casinos, nightclubs, prostitution and elsewhere. In an effort to eradicate this problem, Turkish Police are using increasingly aggressive tactics both in the investigation and arrest of suspects, while the Turkish Judiciary are reflecting this tough stance themselves upon prosecution and sentencing.
Street crime figures are relatively low in Turkey, although it is on the increase in large urban centres such as Istanbul and Izmir. As in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, common street crimes include pick pocketing, purse snatching, and mugging.
Visitors can be robbed while distracted by a staged fight or altercation and women are considered to be easy targets. It is strongly recommended that you leave your passport in the hotel safe, as a lost or stolen passport can disrupt your travel plans and be expensive to replace. However be sure to carry a good photocopy of your passport with you as proof of identity
English-or French-speaking foreigners have befriended tourists and then drugged them, using tea, juice, alcohol, or food. Two common drugs used are Nembutal and benzodiazepine which, when used incorrectly, can cause death.
In other cases, tourists are invited to visit clubs or bars, and then presented with inflated bills (often exceeding $1000), and coerced to pay them by credit card. Residential crime appears to be on the increase in major cities, with criminals targeting ground floor apartments for theft.
Do remember, however, that street crime is a problem in every large city in the world. Relatively few visitors are victims of crimes and those who practice good urban safety precautions are least likely to be bothered by crime.
Under no circumstances should you try pursuit yourself. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to tragic consequences. Call the police immediately. The numbers are:
In Turkey, Police officers wear navy-blue uniforms and caps. Patrol cars can be identified using the unique blue-white design and the writing “Polis” on the side doors and hood. Lieutenants and captains wear silver stars on their shoulders, highest ranking officers wear golden stars.
There have been some disputes in the past about the Police Department. One of many is the scandals that have been on the international press about handling demonstrations with excessive use of force. In Turkey the police is regularly criticized for being ill-mannered and bullying. However more importantly, the government is constantly accused for underpaying and understaffing the department, limiting its rights to exercise lethal force (today legally, a Turkish Policeman is not allowed to fire his weapon unless very exceptional circumstances are at hand), and trying to induce political influence in it.
To improve the problem, pilot projects under a European Union project for strengthening the responsibility, productivity and effectiveness of the Turkish police force have got under way in 10 cities, according to information from the Police Department. The officers working under the EU project will act as a bridge between the local community and the police force. (August 2005)
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