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Crime and Safety

Italy - Crime and Safety


People often associate Italy with organized crime even though it has no major impact on the everyday lives of expats or locals residing in the country. Statistics show that the crime rate in Italy is no higher than The US or the other nations in Europe. In fact, compared to New York and Miami, instances of crime are fairly low even in the major Italian cities like Rome.

The crime rate in Italy does however vary significantly from one region to the other. The southern part of the country is not as safe as the northern part. Violent crime is quite uncommon in most areas across Italy. A major percentage of the locals who have been affected by crime are victims of fraud or corruptions. These two problems are rife all across the country.

The most common instances of crime against foreigners involve petty burglary, car theft, bag-snatching and mugging, especially in places that are teeming with vacation homes or tourist spots. Foreigners should therefore be extra careful when they are traveling with money, traveler’s checks and passports. Expats with their own homes keep dogs as protection. It is also a good idea to get steel-reinforced doors with triple locks and burglar alarms installed for additional safety.

People are advised to avoid leaving any items of value in their vehicles. Robbers could smash the window of a parked car in order to steal radios, sun glasses, cameras, mobile phones, luggage and briefcases. Many of them then make away with the car too. Instances of stealing items from cars at petrol stations or from moving vehicles are not reported very often. Car theft is also more common in case of expensive, foreign-registered cars, which are mainly stolen to order so that they can be sold overseas. Stealing mopeds, bikes and cycles is a lot easier and so owners are advised to use as many security locks as possible.

Bag-snatchers (scippatori) usually work in the big cities, where tourists make the easiest targets. They are difficult to spot as they may operate on foot, scooters, bikes and cars, depending upon the area. It is easier for bag-snatchers to get a hold of watches, jewelry, purses, backpacks and bags that are worn around the waist. Sling-bags and satchels with strong straps are more difficult to snatch.

On the other hand, the rate of crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping in Italy is among the lowest in the Western world. Even foreigners admit that this country is quite safe and secure for children. In a few areas, women may complain of sexual harassment though Italian men generally draw the line at whistling and catcalls. People can walk around at all times without any fear. Areas to avoid during the night time include train stations, parks and car parks because they are generally frequented by pickpockets and drug addicts.

Terrorist alerts in Italy have been few in the last decade or so. Yet, the authorities have put security measures in place to further reduce the risk of any terrorist attacks.

Any crime victim can seek emergency assistance by calling 112, regardless of the time. These calls are generally answered within 15 seconds and the location of the caller is detected in another 5 seconds or so. All the operators speak English and Italian. Callers may also ask for assistance in French, German or Slovenian.

Other contact numbers that are also useful in case of an emergency are:

Police – 113
Fire brigade – 115
First aid – 118

All crimes should be reported at the nearest police station (commissariato di pubblica sicurezza) or the local carabinieri without any delay. While the initial complaint can be made over the phone, it is mandatory to visit the station for completing the report (denuncia). The victim receives a copy of the report filed for insurance purposes. Unfortunately, theft victims in Italy rarely get their belongings back.

Italian National Police Officers are allowed to carry a gun at all times, without any time or territorial limit. They are generally assigned a pistol for an indefinite period of time. The local police officers can carry guns too, but within territorial restrictions. The assignment of pistols to the local police force could vary from a limited to an indefinite period of time. When the officers are off-duty, the weapon is supposed to be concealed properly. All arms carried by the police force are the property of the local or national government authority.


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