Crime Information for Tourists in Latvia

Latvia is a relatively safe country, and crime is generally non-violent in nature; however, serious violent assaults and robberies have occurred. Harassment of foreigners, ethnic minorities, and homosexuals has also occurred in Latvia.

The Riga Tourist Police Unit has a 24/7 English-speaking operator at 371 6718 1818 and English-speaking officers who frequently patrol the Old City. The most common crimes encountered by foreign tourists are purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and mugging, especially during the summer tourism season. Tourists -- particularly those carrying backpacks -- are targeted by individuals or small groups of thieves working together. Riga’s Old Town (Vecriga), Central train station (Dzelzcela stacija), Central bus station (Autoosta) and Central market (Centraltirgus) are crowded public places that are targeted by thieves.

Please be aware that there are numerous scam artists targeting foreigners in the tourist pubs and restaurants. You should pay special attention to the drink prices at bars. There have been instances of travelers being charged exorbitant prices. Bills have been as high as several thousand dollars for drinks, and in some establishments the management may use force to secure payment.

If possible, you should avoid walking alone at night and avoid using ATMs after dark.

In addition, Internet crime is a growing concern in Latvia. Common fraudulent schemes involve both Internet auction sites and Internet job-search sites. In the first scam, criminals offer you valuable items for sale at low prices on Internet auctions and request that your payments are sent by wire transfer to a bank in Latvia or through a fraudulent escrow site that they have created themselves. In this scheme, your money passes through a bank in Latvia and is quickly withdrawn at an ATM or transferred to a bank in another country. It is very difficult in these cases to discover the identities of the account holders or recover the funds.

The second common scam involves identity theft through false job offers. In this scheme, a company claiming to be located in Latvia, but which has a non-existent address, offers you employment as a U.S.-based agent or freight forwarder. When you respond to the job offer, commonly posted on one of several popular Internet job sites, you are asked for a Social Security Number and other identifying information under the guise of conducting a background check.

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