Street Robbery in La Paz - Tourists Beware

A tourist couple was robbed yesterday in La Paz and shared their story on our site. We encourage all tourists to share their experiences in Bolivia. If you plan to visit Bolivia, please be sure to take the time to read all the travel safety tips on our site. You can find them under our TRAVEL PLANNER section. Every country on this planet has crime against tourists and Bolivia is no exception.

FAKE POLICE TEAMS UP WITH FAKE TOURIST

My husband and I are currently staying at the Hotel Europa in La Paz. We were out exploring the city yesterday and were sitting on a bench on the 6th Agosto and Montevideo when we were approached by a young women claiming to be from Chile asking directions. We were joined by a man claiming to be a tourist policemen. We were all hustled into a white taxi and our belongings searched thoroughly. We became very agitated when he demanded that I remove my rings which refused and I demanded to be taken to the British Embassy. He then hung my bang outside the car and I jumped out with my husband but he had taken all our money, a mobile telephone and camera. We made a statement to the hotel who have forwarded this to the police - I hope! This experience was very frightening but has not been taken seriously at all. It has made our trip to Bolivia horrible - we have lost all our photographs and we will be so happy to leave on Tuesday 6th Dec as planned. We will, unfortunately, be spending my birthday and our wedding anniversary in this country but we will never visit again or advise friends or family to do so. I suggest that hotels make guests aware of these teams of robbers and also take more seriously these events. I would like to make a statement to a police officer face to face not via hotel staff! I should like to unsubscribe to this site as I have no intention of finding anything further about Bolivia - I just want to leave! Your site is pretty useless and doesn't appear to worry about victims of crime more about how wonderful Bolivia is.

MY RESPONSE

Unfortunately crime against tourists does occur frequently in Bolivia. We have several pages on the site that speak to this situation and on which you'll find advise such as travel precautions, preparing for your trip, safety measures, and more. You'll find them under the TRAVEL PLANNER section, in our forums, and in our LIVING IN BOLIVIA section, as well as other pages throughout our 3000+ page site.

I'm truly sorry you had such a nightmarish experience. But I'm very thankful to you for taking the time to share it. By doing so (and I wish everyone did) others may be able to avoid this type of situation.

To future readers of this message, the following are just a few of the pages on which you can find more information to keep you safe during your travels to Bolivia:

Preparing for your trip

Precautions to take during your trip

We regularly post embassy travel warnings here

Bolivia travel tips (includes many safety tips)

Bolivia news - updated daily so you can be aware of potentially negative situations

Crime is one of the reasons we always suggest travel insurance

Bolivia travel warnings

Your travel stories - where you can share to help others

Comments for Street Robbery in La Paz - Tourists Beware

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Nov 23, 2016
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Kidnapped in La Paz
by: Geoff Layton

On 8 Oct 2016 I was sitting in Plaza Murillo in La Paz and a young lady sat beside me and we talked for half hour or so.Laughing etc.She asked me if I would take a photo of her in a nearby church.When we walked into the church a policeman said "no photos" and asked for my passport.He led me outside and told me to get into a car to go to the police station to check on my passport copy.I was unsure but he seemed genuine.
Once in the car we headed up to the no go area(I have been to La Paz before).It wasnt long before I realized I was kidnapped.I was terrified totally.He took credit cards,kept my passport and took 500$ US(i found this out later). Terrified I finally jumped out of the moving car and ran.
The girl would not get out so I knew she was part of the scam.
I assumed I would die.
The police in La Paz were not interested in the least.Didnt care a stuff.Disgusting.
Tourists need more warning about this--at airports etc.

The rest of Bolivia was fantastic.Loved the rest--especially Salar and Sucre.

My tour guides were very apologetic and kind I must say---and are now friends.BUT be careful here.

Jun 17, 2016
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kidnapped and Robbed in Broad daylight
by: Anonymous

I was in La Paz, walking to the textile museum last week at 3pm on a moderately busy street when I was physically forced in to a car that stopped right in front of me by a man and woman - there was another man driving- it was very well orchestrated. They took all my money and went through my hand bag asking for my passport (which was hidden under my clothes and they didn't find). They got my credit cards out and started yelling at me for pin codes which I refused to provide. They drove to an ATM and when one guy got out of the car (I assume to force me to withdraw cash from the ATM) I noticed the door unlock on my side, I opened it and ran as fast and hard as I could without looking back (years of training for long distance running paid off). At this point I was completely lost as I had been driven in an unknown direction and then ran in another direction. I found a police officer and started to explain to him what had happened, before I finished he said "that didn't happen. Go away" (or similar in Spanish). I am a typically a calm and collected person but felt incredibly fearful in this moment. Don't believe anyone who tells you La Paz is safe. People say "it's ok if you don't travel alone and stick to tourist areas" BULLSHIT!! If a woman can't walk alone somewhere in the middle of the day, just a block from the main street then it is NOT a safe place. BE CAREFUL !!

Jul 01, 2014
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Bolivia is horrible
by: Anonymous

I live in Mexico City and I was crying from happiness when i returned from Bolivia. We took a bus to the salt dessert in winter and some assholes took our blankets, they threatened us so we spent the entire ride dying. In la paz, we got some money and a guy said he needed help getting to the lottery building because he won but was scared. Long story short, we were scammed 400 bucks after that and left with a stupid little purse with monopoly money. Careful. Y yo soy mexicana caray! Son una mierda.

Oct 21, 2012
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Bolivia does not deserve tourists.
by: Anonymous

Bolivia does not deserve tourists.
The scam fake police seems to be one of the main industries there, The Tourist police are incredibly under rescourced and cannot deal with the massive amount of scammers in La Paz.
The fake police scammers are very overbearing and scary so it is difficult to not do as they demand.
The food we found in La Paz was terrible.
So if going to La Paz go on a diet and never go out without a group of freinds to assist you. Also do not cary hand bags or cameras to make you an easy target.
Travelled to many countries this is the worst for tourist protection against scammers.

Sep 22, 2012
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safty in tiwanaku
by: barbara

im afraid to go to la paz but im very intresting to see tiwanaku,how is safety there i like to stay there 2 days coming from puno

Dec 07, 2011
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this is one of most common scams in world, not "made in LaPaz"
by: jeanstac

I am a 66 year old retired woman and I live in LaPaz, Bolivia 8 months of the year by choice because it is far far less dangerous than living in my home country, the USA. LaPaz is by far one of the safest capitals in the world: think DC, London, Caracas, Lima, Rio, Madrid, Rome ....all have many multiples of crime as LaPaz.

Your hotel was probably just trying to save you the trouble of dealing directly with the police. Anyone can and does make police reports and the police are pretty concerned about tourist crime because tourism brings in money and scared tourists don't come.

I am terribly sorry you had a problem in LaPaz. The scam they ran on you is typical world wide, not "made in LaPaz". One of the most basic of tourist rules is to never be tricked into entering a vehicle. Always insist on going by taxi to meet them somewhere....again, this is one of the best known tricks in the world...not just LaPaz.

Dec 04, 2011
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STREET ROBBERIES OCCUR IN ALL COUNTRIES
by: Anonymous

Please do not feel agitated in reference to Boliviabella. I am a US citizen and have traveled to Bolivia more than 30 times in the past ten years, luckily to say that I have never been robbed in Bolivia. I feel that this website does its best to articulate the advantages and disadvantages of visiting and living in Bolivia. Robberies occur in all countries and we all should use caution...I love Bolivia and will be living there this spring....JSD

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