“That will be 6 Euro please”, said the
cashier at the food counter. Bill reached for his wallet to retrieve the cash he had just received at the money exchange 30 minutes ago. A short trolley ride later, Bill’s group was ready to experience some local cuisine.
Unfortunately, Bill’s wallet was missing, along with his cash, credit cards, immigration papers and the address of the small, little know hotel in which he had registered. Shocked at this discovery, Bill confessed his problem to his traveling companions who readily paid the food bill. The immediate problem was solved, but Bill’s day, if not the entire trip, was ruined.
Thinking back on the trolley ride, Bill remembers the normal looking “local’s” that crowded around him on the packed trolley car. He now recalls that as his attention was diverted by the historic buildings along the way, one of the “local’s” bumped into him, apologized in their own language and then exited the trolley car at the next stop. A victim of a pickpocket’s skill, Bill wishes he had put his wallet in his front pants pocket as he had been instructed to do.
Our mission teams almost never experience issues of security or safety. We do our best to educate and train our teams on how to keep their stuff in their possession and control.
The physical security and safety of our team is always a priority. The mission leadership will take every precaution to assure the team’s physical security, for both person and property. While you probably will not encounter any violent crime, petty theft is a real possibility. Unsecured property will disappear in seconds. Pickpockets routinely target foreigners, especially North Americans. Simple and common sense precautions will reduce the risk of your property being stolen.
Common Sense Pays Off
We ask our team members to use common sense when traveling internationally. We typically travel in a group and we ask that you please stay with the group. Even in familiar airports we ask that you tell another team member if you leave the group to get a snack or go to the restroom. There may be a few limited times that you will be free to walk around near the mission site. We ask that you identify a partner to accompany you during these times. Please do not go anywhere alone. Never leave the mission site without coordinating with the mission leadership.
Keeping Money, Documents and Valuables Secure
Hidden pockets or money belts are your key to peace of mind during travel. Keep only a typical day’s spending money conveniently located in a pocket or backpack and put the remainder in your money belt. You will only need to get into your money belt when you need to replenish your “pocket change”. Your mission leadership will advise you on what to do with your important documents while at the mission site. Remember to make a copy of all important documents to keep in a separate location.
While at the mission site, living quarters, or host home be sure and utilize any locks that are provided. If the door to your sleeping area and work area can be locked, lock them whenever the area is unoccupied. It takes only seconds for someone to slip into your work area or living area and remove your belongings.
Pickpockets and Other Thieves
Pickpockets target travelers, especially in airports, on public transportation and in markets. Thieves often team up (even children) and create a distraction such as causing the person behind you to bump into you or some other type of commotion.
Wallets, purses, backpacks and belt bags should be kept in front of you when in public places. Wallets should be kept in the front pocket. Cell phones, cameras and other valuables should be continuously secured.
Never leave your cell phone, camera or anything valuable lying around. Always keep valuables on your person or zipped up in your luggage safely out of sight.
On Planes and Trains
Always keep any slips of papers or claim tickets that you are given at an airport or on the train no matter how small or insignificant they appear. It is best to keep them with your passport so that you can find them later.
Don’t Think It Can’t Happen to You