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Security Alert for Vietnam

 
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 800
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:07 pm    Post subject: Security Alert for Vietnam Reply with quote

I'm not in Vietnam, but I just got this Security Alert from the US Embassy. (I'm enrolled in the STEP Program mentioned at the end.) Thought I'd pass the message along here:

Quote:
Security Alert-U.S. Embassy Hanoi

U.S. Consulate Ho Chi Minh City

Location: Throughout Vietnam

Event: The U.S. Mission to Vietnam advises U.S. citizens of the High Crime rating for Vietnam. Recent reports of criminal activities include unwanted sexual advances, targeting children in public places for potential kidnapping, and reports of wrongdoing by taxis and ride-sharing services, including sexual harassment and theft of personal items.

Actions to Take:

· Maintain situational awareness and be aware of your surroundings.
· Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive jewelry or watches and keep the amount of valuables on your person to a minimum.
· Do not physically resist if confronted by an armed or unarmed robber as robbers may resort to violence.
· Use caution when walking or driving at night.
· Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists.

Assistance:

· U.S. Embassy Hanoi - Consular Annex
From outside Vietnam: +84-24-3850-5000
From the U.S.: 011-84-24-3850-5000
From landline within Hanoi: 3850-5000
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 024-3850-5000
[email protected]

· U.S. Consulate Ho Chi Minh City

From outside Vietnam: +84-28-3520-4200
From the U.S.: 011-84-28-3520-4200
From landline within Ho Chi Minh City: 3520-4200
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 028-3520-4200S

[email protected]

· State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs - 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

· Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.


Are things really that bad there? Regardless...be safe.
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voyagerksa



Joined: 29 Apr 2015
Posts: 92

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ho Chi Min City baa Saigon
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Hodor



Joined: 17 Oct 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Dunes by the gulf

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The brothel touts and drug dealers in Nha Trang were very aggressive. An altogether seedy town, in my view.

Last edited by Hodor on Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sigmoid



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 1249

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well. only targeting children in public places for potential kidnapping sounds really serious, but if you don't have kids...

Unwanted sexual advances is quite bad, of course, but haven't heard of any rapes of expats or tourists in VN, unlike some countries. Make a scene if you're in public. Just a loud "HEY!" can deter people who are hassling you since there are always other people around in the big city.

Wrongdoing by taxis and ride-sharing services is probably your biggest worry. I imagine the sexual harassment is when using motorbike taxis, which is primarily a company called Grab in VN (similar to Uber, which got bought out by Grab, I think), and theft of personal items involves taxicabs. Some tourists once told me how the driver put their bags in the trunk and then their smaller bags were taken out at some point by an accomplice. Keep your bags with you inside the taxi.

Good use of the word "wrongdoing", by the way.

Anyway, this is the kind of stuff that can happen in most big cities and the "Actions to Take" are also pretty much common sense anywhere in the world.

In short, don't worry too much. Are you traveling or planning to teach?

In my own personal experience, the only notable thing that has happened in my years of living in/visiting HCMC off and on since 2004 was when two ladies of the evening approached me on a motorbike while I was walking home around midnight. One got off and got close, but I let out the "HEY!" mentioned above when I felt a hand in my pocket and they skeedaddled pronto.

Anyway, there are a number of videos online. Search for "scams in Ho Chi Minh" and get educated. Also, there are expats in HCMC groups on social media. Finally, these are VN's English language news websites that report on major crimes, especially those involving tourists:

https://tuoitrenews.vn/

https://e.vnexpress.net
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 800
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post there sigmoid--thanks.

If I were to go to Vietnam, it would be as a tourist. As mentioned in the OP, I had received a US government STEP warning--a pretty rare occurrence (just the third non weather-related warning on a country in the last ten years)--and was only curious if the substance of it was true. I had always thought Vietnam to be relatively safe (besides the apparently awful traffic...).

Anyway, you more than answered my question. Thanks again.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 800
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally, while I realize one shouldn't laugh (as people have apparently been hurt by this), the idea of a taxi service prone to theft and sexual harassment being called "Grab" is, um, interesting. Shocked
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sigmoid



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 1249

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Finally, while I realize one shouldn't laugh (as people have apparently been hurt by this), the idea of a taxi service prone to theft and sexual harassment being called "Grab" is, um, interesting.


Yes, the name is a bit funny but actually Grab's reputation isn't that bad. The taxi theft incident I mentioned didn't involve Grab and wikipedia doesn't seem to mention any incidents in VN:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grab_(company)

Here are a couple of recent articles about the company that mention complaints about service and pricing but nothing about theft or harassment. So again, wouldn't worry too much. Do watch the videos about taxis and other scams though.

https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/business/20180605/grab-hit-by-complaints-after-dominating-ridehailing-industry-in-vietnam/45946.html

https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20180715/grab-vietnam-sacks-driver-for-supposedly-kicking-passengers-out-of-car/46697.html
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Piscador



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've lived in various parts of Vietnam since the late '90s and my experience and observations have been that although petty crime is rife, violent crime is thankfully rare. Although I've been lucky and haven't been robbed (left a phone in a taxi once that I never got back, but that's all. My fault), quite a few friends and colleagues have had stuff stolen. Just a few of the incidents:
- $2000 stolen from a hotel room
- thief on a motorbike snatched a shoulder bag lying between the owner's feet (she was distracted, lighting up a cigarette)
- another woman had a bag snatched while crossing the street.
- a friend left his 2nd floor bedroom window open on a hot night - woke up to find his phone and wallet gone

As you can see, most of these are thieves taking advantage of an opportunity. It takes time to develop a sense of paranoia strong enough so that you automatically keep your belongs inaccessible. For example, if you're walking along the street with a bag, hold the bag under your arm securely on the curb side, where motorbike thieves can't get at it. Don't carry more money than you need. Don't carry your passport unless you need it. Hotel staff can and do steal valuables, so keep your stuff in a lockable suitcase.
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Unheard Utterance



Joined: 02 Aug 2018
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few years ago I was robbed of all my valuable possessions in the Old Quarter in Hanoi. I was on the 2nd floor and I asked upon check-in about security and the woman said just lock your window. I awoke on the 3rd/4th night (after I guess one of the staff members unlocked the window and told someone I had a phone, laptop, camera and lenses in the room) to find everything had been stolen. I was most likely drugged as no one is going to climb into my room, rifle through my stuff without me waking up as I'm a very light sleeper. I remember it vividly now. I remember being conscious but not being able to open my eyes. I thought the noise was the people next door. I slept with a chair jammed against the door for the next two years in Vietnam. I've traveled to over 25 countries and that's the only issue with theft I've had apart from being held up at knifepoint in Amsterdam.
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suphanburi



Joined: 20 Mar 2014
Posts: 892

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A generic warning like this, coming from a country that is notorious for mass murders (currently averaging about 1 every 2 weeks) and rampant violent crime (more murders on your average weekend (PER CAPITA) than annually in any other developed nation on earth is simply a joke.

Yes, there is petty crime here, as there is everywhere in Asia, but I would have a much greater fear for my personal safety if I were back in Phoenix, DC, or anywhere else back in the States.

Fear mongering at its best.

.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 800
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

suphanburi wrote:
A generic warning like this, coming from a country that is notorious for mass murders (currently averaging about 1 every 2 weeks) and rampant violent crime (more murders on your average weekend (PER CAPITA) than annually in any other developed nation on earth is simply a joke.

Yes, there is petty crime here, as there is everywhere in Asia, but I would have a much greater fear for my personal safety if I were back in Phoenix, DC, or anywhere else back in the States.

Fear mongering at its best.

.


I haven't lived in the US for about fifteen years, at least partly because of the concerns you raise. That said, again, receiving in Japan a US government STEP warning for another country in Asia is a pretty rare occurrence. This is just the third non weather-related warning on another country in Asia that I've received over the last ten years. The other two? The Philippines during the siege of Marawi, and Thailand regarding the far southern provinces.

Curiosity motivated my OP. See, I knew about Marawi, and I knew about the ongoing civil unrest in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla, so no surprises at either warning. Hadn't heard anything bad about Vietnam...so I asked.
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shanewarne



Joined: 21 Feb 2008
Posts: 146

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The police have close connections with the criminal gangs so it is possible to get possessions back if you know how. I knew someone who worked as a translator for the police who helped numerous foreigners.

One particular european girl who was staying in the old quarter had had her laptop, passport, etc stolen. Lucky for her though, the policeman dealing with the case felt pity and made a quick phone call to the ones in control of that particular area. She got her things back the next day.

i've heard other stories where if you treat the police with respect and generosity, they might 'find' your belongings, but it all depends on their mood and what they'll get out of it, of course.
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