Peru - Tourist shot in taxi robbery
Horrible news has emerged out of Peru - A young woman has been shot in the stomach at point blank range as a result of a botched robbery.
Elizabeth “Lilly” Littlewood, a 26-year-old woman from Newcastle, Australia, and her partner were taking a taxi to Lima airport when the incident occurred, according to reports.
The driver pulled a gun on the pair, shooting Littlewood in the stomach as she tried to escape. She is now recovering in Lima hospital after undergoing surgery.
Aside from the physical and mental trauma endured by Littlewood and her partner, the attack is also a blow for the area of Lima, which prides itself on being a relatively safe destination for tourists to South America – a popular travel jaunt for the World Nomads community.
This horrible case drives home the point that safety must always be observed when travelling, especially in areas subject to crime and social disorder. Sometimes it is just a matter of “wrong place, wrong time” – but there are many things that can be done to minimize the incidences of robbery or violence.
World Nomads has put together some specific safety considerations in regard to robbery that can be made when travelling to Peru.
• Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport is a hunting ground for conmen. Bogus tour operators, people who pretend to know you, or bogus taxi drivers may all approach you.
• Use the services of one of three official taxi companies located at desks directly outside the International and Domestic Arrival halls. Avoid using taxis that operate on streets. Also, check for lights on top of the taxi, and proper signage on the car to make sure your cab is legitimate.
• If you have luggage, you should not take a station wagon cab where your luggage can be seen, as it attracts robbers, who use mobile phones to advise accomplices to hold up the cab and rob you further along the road.
• Never leave your luggage in the cab with the driver behind the wheel. There have been incidents where passengers have got out with their luggage still either in the cab or boot and the driver has driven off.
• Be aware of the risk of "express kidnappings" - short-term, opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash from the victim. These have occurred in the main tourist areas in Peru, including Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. Victims are often selected at random and held while criminals empty their bank accounts with their stolen cash cards. Once the cards have been used the victim is usually quickly released.
• There have been a number of cases in the past few years of female tourists being raped. Mostly in the areas of Cusco and Arequipa but also in places such as Mancora, Pucallpa and the outlying areas near Incan ruins. Women should take particular care at bus terminals, when hiring or getting into taxis, and avoid isolated areas particularly after dark. Some assaults on inter-provincial buses in rural areas have included the rape of female passengers and crew. Be alert to the availability and possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs.
• Street crime is also prevalent in cities in Peru's interior, including Cuzco, Arequipa, Puno, and Juliaca.
• Tourists should be particularly cautious when visiting the Sacsahuayman ruins outside Cuzco. They should not travel alone, but do so in as large a group as possible. Visitors should also avoid these areas at dawn, dusk, or nighttime, since roving gangs are known to frequent these areas and prey on unsuspecting tourists.
• Going as part of a group with a local guide may help prevent this.
We hope you take heed of these warnings if you plan to travel to Peru, and keep travelling safely.
Author: Phil Sylvester
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