Although still relatively low, crime in Kathmandu and throughout the country has risen in some categories and declined in others. In a number of recent cases, criminals were found to have used sophisticated scams to commit crimes, particularly in Kathmandu. In addition, there continue to be reports of robberies, burglaries, and sexual assaults involving foreigners, including in the popular tourist districts of Thamel and Bouddha in Kathmandu. Police also report that foreigners have from time to time had sedative drugs placed in their food or drink by individuals who seek to rob or otherwise take advantage of them. Visitors should avoid walking alone after dark, especially in areas experiencing power cuts, and should avoid carrying large sums of cash or wearing expensive jewelry.
In addition, visitors should consider exchanging money only at banks and hotels. There have been several reported incidents in which tourists have had their belongings stolen from their hotel rooms while they were asleep or away from their room. Valuables should be stored in the hotel safety deposit box and should never be left unattended in hotel rooms. Travelers should be especially alert at or near major tourist sites, including the Thamel district of Kathmandu, where pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are most common. It is recommended that passports and cash be carried in a protected neck pouch or money belt, not in a backpack or handbag.
Visitors to Nepal should also be vigilant against various scams. One of the most prevalent involves a request to carry jewelry to a business contact in another country. This scam often results in the unsuspecting tourist being forced to withdraw large sums of cash from his or her bank account and creates the risk of further penalties at the border. Please also see the section on Special Circumstances below regarding scams suffered by individuals coming to Nepal to volunteer at orphanages or other organizations. Nepali police forces have limited resources and lack sufficient manpower to effectively enforce law and order, as well as to pursue claims of fraud or petty crime. Their services are not up to Western standards. Many cases reported to the police remain unresolved.
Criminal activity in the Terai, the southern plains region of Nepal bordering India, remain at levels higher than the country as a whole. In the Terai, criminal groups sometimes extort funds and kidnap people, although this activity generally is not directed at U.S. citizens. Extortion tactics used by armed groups in the region include assault, vandalism, and low-level IED attacks.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Purchase of bootlegged goods is illegal in the United States, and may be illegal as well under local law. Do not agree to carry or store any packages from a stranger. There have been instances in which the packages concealed contraband material or drugs, and the foreigner who accepted the package was arrested by police for possessing the illegal substance.
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