Petty crime and burglary are common in Cabo Verde, especially in marketplaces, and at festivals, street fairs, and public gatherings. Criminals do not necessarily target U.S. citizens, but rather anyone perceived to be affluent, regardless of nationality. Often, the perpetrators of petty theft and pickpocketing are gangs of street children, so visitors should avoid groups of children who appear to have no adult supervision. Muggings occur often, particularly at night and in more isolated areas, and increasingly involve violence. The perpetrators are predominantly males between the ages of 14 and 25 operating in groups of two or more to attack their victims. Due to inadequate lighting in many public areas, often caused by rolling power cuts in urban neighborhoods, you should be especially vigilant after dark, carry a small flashlight to illuminate your path, never go out alone, keep vehicle doors and windows locked, and avoid isolated places.
National police statistics that show a decrease in crime in general in Cabo Verde conflict with a public perception that crime is actually growing, particularly in the cities of Praia and Mindelo. This perception has been fueled by intense media coverage, and a marked uptick in violent (often drug-related) robberies, physical assaults, and murders. Over the past two years, there have been several murders and attempted murders, including some on the tourist islands of Sal and Boa Vista, although none have involved U.S. citizens.
The Embassy emphasizes the particular dangers of using hillside stairways connecting neighborhoods in Praia and many other Cabo Verdean cities and towns. These stairways, although offering convenient shortcuts through hilly terrain, have been scenes of some of the most notorious assaults in recent months, even in broad daylight with many people present. The Embassy strongly advises against using these any time of day.
As reported in the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, domestic violence against women is widespread in Cabo Verde. Although the Cabo Verdean national assembly adopted a law criminalizing gender-based violence in July 2010, implementing legislation remains a work in progress.
Counterfeit and pirated goods, although widely available in street markets in Praia, Mindelo, and elsewhere, are nevertheless illegal in both Cabo Verde and the United States. U.S. citizens who buy these goods are punishable under Cabo Verdean law.
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