One of the major drawbacks to living in or traveling to a “developing country” is the crime and the inconsistency of law enforcement. If you have been here for a while or have read the news about the Dominican Republic you likely know what I am talking about. As foreigners, we stand out as targets. The majority of the local population don’t have a lot of money, and in the opinion of most residents of the DR, all foreigners or extranjeros are rich.

Dangers traveling from the Airport

Recently there have been alerts from the US Embassy in Santo Domingo about persons in taxis, public cars and guagua being stopped and robbed by people dressed as Police while traveling from the Las Americas International Airport near Santo Domingo to nearby hotels and even when traveling to private homes. This is one report which involved Airline Employees traveling to a hotel (Embassy Report).

Safety Recommendations

While this could happen at any airport in the DR, the Las Americas International Airport seems to get the most complains of robberies and muggings. First, you might consider choosing a different airport. Second, if possible travel during the day, most muggings happen when the streets are deserted at night. Don’t assume because you are in a taxi you are safe, quite frequently these assaults happen to travelers in a taxi.

If you are driving here is a list of safety precautions you should consider.

  • Vary your times and routes to and from work
  • Keep your doors locked and windows closed (residence and vehicle)
  • Check the interior and exterior of your vehicle prior to getting into your vehicle. Look for things that are irregular or abnormal.
  • Be unpredictable when possible in both your work and social schedules.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • In traffic, always attempt to leave space in which to maneuver. Always leave yourself an exit. Be prepared to take evasive action at any time.
  • Avoid choke points in travel. Be wary of diversions.
  • If you are being followed or harassed by another driver, try to find the nearest police station, hotel, or other public facility to call the Police. Never lead the person back to your home or stop and get out.
    Whenever possible, do not have a set day for shopping, errands and personal needs. Be unpredictable.
  • Public transportation vehicles such as the route taxis (“carros publicos”) and urban buses (“guaguas”) are unsafe and should not be used.