After having lived in Athens for the last 30 years, I suppose that I am fairly well qualified to responsibly report on the issue of crime in Greece.
I seperate crimes into two basic categories. Violent and non-violent crime. Obviously, violent crimes include things such as muggings, armed robbery, assault and battery, and purse snatching. Non-violent crimes would include simple theft, pick-pocketing, and fraud.
Luckily, violent crime is almost non-existent here in Greece. I have yet to hear of anyone ever getting mugged here in Athens. This is a type of crime that the people of Athens will not accept. Criminals know that should they dare to attack someone on the street with the intent to rob them, onlookers would not only rush to the victim's aid, but, would also willingly testify in court against the perpetrator. This inhibits the criminal element considerably. Crimes of armed robbery like that which was experienced by tourists visiting Miami are also unheard of here in Greece. Acts of violence against tourists are considerred to be completely unacceptable by all Greeks. Local Greeks often fall victim to acts of violence at the hands of certain tourists who on occasion consume too much "ouzo" and lose control. These, though, are rare incidents but they do happen from time to time.
Generaly speaking Greece is an extremely safe place to visit for tourists. I consistently get reports from simple tourists who visit my carpet store about how they feel very safe in Athens. They can sense an aura of peaceful existence here and they often comment how they wish they could feel the same in their own cities. Many people have told me how they even felt safe walking down dark and deserted streets in Athens late at night. Whereas they wouldn't dream of doing the same in their own countries.
Non-violent crime is a different ball game. Unfortunately some tourists are victimized by petty non-violent criminal acts. Although these are rare, none the less, I feel that I owe it to my readers to make them aware of the potential threat so that they can take the necessary precautions.
The most common crime that tourists become victims of is that of fraud at the hands of the taxi cab drivers who line up at the airport while waiting for unsuspecting tourists. The normal fare for a trip from the airport to downtown Athens is about 30 euros. More often than not, that is what you will pay, but unfortunately, a significant number of dishonest cab drivers have been charging fares of up to 50 euros for the same trip. This may seem trivial to some people, but I believe that it still is a despicable act of fraud which must be stamped out.
Obviously this does not apply to a pre-arranged taxi transfer which costs 50 euros or more. But in this case you are paying for the trip there as well since he is coming specifically for you and will wait for you even if your flight is delayed. But a regualr street taxi should not charge more than 30 euros at any time. To read about taxi transfers see www.greecetravel.com/taxi
The Greek police have finally recognized the importance of this type of crime and have initiated a campaign of police action which has brought dozens of dishonest cab drivers to justice. Penalties have been stiff and have helped to stem the problem. Tourists can assist by simply refusing to pay and asking the driver to come into the hotel and discuss it with the concierge. If your cab driver insists on charging more then ask him to take up the matter with the police. At the mere mention of the word "police" he will "head for the hills".
Just last week a tourist told me that he was asked to pay $20.00 by his cab driver for a trip which should have cost less than $10.00. He got the doorman at his hotel involved who threatened to call the police. At that point the cab driver left the scene in such a hurry that he ended up without getting paid anything by the tourist. If he waited for the police he would have found himiself spending the night in jail. Therefore, he obviously opted for a quick get-a-away. I encourage all tourists to do the same when confronted with these gutless dishonest cab drivers.
The only other type of crime tourists need to
with is the rather
rare incident of falling victim to one of the
"pick-pockets" who operate in the crowded streets
Most of these "pick-pockets" have come to Greece
countries like Rumania, Hungary, Poland, Albania,
police have made numerous arrests but the best way
fight this type of
crime is for the potential victims to take
necessary steps that
would make it almost impossible for the
simple precautions would include :
In conclusion, all you need to do is follow these simple instructions and you will have a wonderful visit to Athens and all of Greece as well.
For more information on Crime in Greece see http://www.athensguide.com/practicalinfo/crime.htm
Regards from sunny Athens, Greece. Tom Mazarakis
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