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US embassy warns citizens: Holidays ‘prime time’ for thieves

MANILA, Philippines - The holiday season in the Philippines is “prime time” for thieves and pickpockets who prey on foreigners, whom they perceive to be affluent, the United States embassy said in its holiday security reminder.

The embassy reminded Americans to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security.

“As we approach the holiday season, which is prime time for pickpockets and thieves, there remains a high level of criminal activity in the Manila metropolitan area. The embassy wishes to remind US citizens in the Philippines that while you may become a victim simply because you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, foreigners may also be targeted because they are perceived to be affluent,” the embassy said.

The embassy offered suggestions to help reduce their citizens’ chances of becoming a victim.

Americans should neither display lavish amounts of jewelry nor carry around large amounts of money, the reminder stated. “A good rule of thumb: Don’t take more with you than you can afford to lose,” it said, adding that they should keep money in the front pocket of their pants or skirt.

The embassy reminded Americans to always carry some type of identification.

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It also warned US citizens that pickpocket gangs “often appear to be homeless and begin by demanding money. They will sometimes aggressively follow the victims until they eventually swarm around them and begin to surreptitiously grab personal items from the victims, such as wallets and cell phones.”

Americans were also reminded to be aware that public transportation like jeepneys, Light Rail Transit and the Metro Rail Transit systems are prime venues for pickpockets.

The embassy also told Americans to drive with the windows rolled up and the doors locked, use a supplemental anti-theft device that locks either the steering wheel or the gearshift and not to park in deserted or isolated areas.

The embassy also reminded US citizens to secure their homes against burglars and be alert for suspicious objects or packages.


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