Friday, May 25, 2012

This can happen to you-watch out!

Dear All

I have got the warning and read through it and think that as an activist I agree we watch out. Read and enjoy. JT

drsacs@state.gov
May 24, 2012:

Crime continues to plague everyone--expatriates and Tanzanians, permanent residents, and visitors. Criminal activity takes place during the day but even more under cover of darkness. Avoiding risky situations and employing simple security practices can make a huge difference to your safety: ·
Maximize your security awareness. ·
Minimize your security risks. ·
Minimize the harm that might befall you if all else fails.

In terms of minimizing risks, one thing you can do is to stop carrying pocketbooks, computer cases, backpacks or any other kind of bag. If you insist on carrying a bag, minimize what is in it. There are more security tips and reminders at the end of this document. When you read the following incidents think about how the individuals reacted (mostly really well) and think about your own security preparations and responses.

Recent Incidents Reported to the U.S. Embassy: On Sunday, May 20 around 1030 four men including two in brown police uniforms with polisi emblems approached a motorist who parked near the Sea Cliff Hotel. The men were in a small silver vehicle with a spare tire mounted at the rear. The men started to exit their vehicle but their uniforms didn't appear quite legitimate.

The motorist/pedestrian moved away to a more visible public space and the men got back in their car and sped away. On Saturday, May 19, around 0200, six assailants overpowered a guard at an American residence on Mwaya Street near Funky's. The guard was bound and gagged before he could hit his panic button. Some of the gang cut screens on the porch, others worked on a door. They slid open one door but couldn't defeat a bar lock to gain entry to the house. Others hammered and pried at another grill.

The banging on the bars awakened the residents who hit their panic button. This alerted the Knight Support mobile patrol to respond. Meanwhile the residents locked themselves into their safe haven and yelled at the assailants. The assailants didn't care and didn't depart until the mobile patrol arrived and then they all disappeared. (Do you have a panic button? Does it work? ) On Friday, May 18, at 2230 three individuals reportedly dressed in police uniforms gained entrance to a property on Haile Selassie.

The three were accompanied by another ten or twelve men who tied up three guards. Then they scaled the wall and invaded the neighboring property which seems to have been their intended target. They chased down a guard, tied, gagged, beat, and stripped him, dumping him in a garbage bin. Simultaneously other assailants broke down an office door, armed with pangas and hatchets. An office worker hit the panic button and Knight Support mobile patrols responded. However, several laptops, cell phones, money and other items were stolen. On Thursday, May 17, at 2200 an alert KK guard at an embassy residence on Slipway heard odd noises and called for the Embassy/KK Mobile Patrol.

The patrol discovered that next door a guard and gardener had filled two 20 liter containers with diesel fuel from the generator and were transporting it in a wheelbarrow. The resident was away for a couple of weeks. (What do you do when you go away? Who lives on your property?)

On Tuesday, May 15 at around 1900, an American Embassy employee parked in the parking lot of a restaurant on Msasani. She parked three spaces away from the well-lit entrance. She heard a car, turned and was bumped and knocked down by a white taxi with a yellow stripe. The backseat passenger grabbed her bag, dragging her for about 30 feet until she was able to disengage herself. Two guards reacted and chased the car. One threw a Masai club and broke the right rear window. Fortunately she wasn’t hurt.

She had previously minimized the contents of her bag and only lost a Tanzanian driver's license, cash, and a cell phone. According to the guards, the car must have trailed her from the main road. It drove slowly so as not to attract attention--as if it were going to park. (There is no warning. Once a bag snatch starts there is little you can do about it except to keep your cool and attempt to disentangle yourself.

The only measures would be preventive--in minimizing what you carry and preferably not carrying a bag at all.) On Tuesday, May 15, an IST teacher and her child were walking near Kahama Road when assailants in a silver minivan with tinted windows grabbed her shoulder bag. She was dragged and banged up but is otherwise fine. On Tuesday, May 15, around 1900 a female jogger was assaulted when running on the beach near Ocean Drive.

She was only carrying her phone, 10,000 TSH and her keys. Three men knocked her down and one hit her in the face. She screamed and hit back using her keys to strike them whilst they grabbed for her cell phone. After hitting one of the men in the face they backed off a bit and she ran to the Aga Khan Hospital nearby. (Fighting back may make things worse, but in this case it worked.) On Sunday, May 13 between 1400 and 1600 expats locked and parked their car in a guarded parking lot compound at a restaurant/art store on Msasani. One or more individuals broke into the car, got into the trunk and stole a laptop, kindle, and other items.

is possible they followed the car and knew what they were after. There is little that the vehicle owner could have done, it was daylight, in a guarded parking area. The only thing would have been not to carry valuable items--even though they were in the locked trunk.

On Sunday, May 13, at 0915 two expats were walking between Funky's and Shopper's when assailants in a white Noah with tinted windows grabbed the Amcits pocketbook. This knocked her down and she was briefly dragged until she disentangled herself and they sped off. On Friday, May 11, around 2200, a female American citizen walked on the shoulder facing traffic, with her bag on the side away from the street. A small SUV bumped into her. An assailant grabbed her waist and dragged her while she screamed and hit him.

She managed to break free but lost the bag. On or about Thursday, May 10, around 1830, a six foot tall, 200 pound male expat was walking from Shoppers Plaza to his house. He was walking from Haile Selassie down Mwaya Road toward Toure Drive. He was assaulted by individuals in a taxi. He was initially dragged by his shoulder/laptop bag but then hit over the head and knocked out.

Fortunately he only suffered a concussion and bruising. On Tuesday May 8, around 1845 an American citizen business woman walked from the Sea Cliff Hotel to a restaurant on Chole. Assailants in a white sedan grabbed her bag and dragged her. On Tuesday, May 1, around 1630 a female American citizen was walking home from Shopper's Plaza with her husband. Assailants in a dark blue or black sedan bumped into her, grabbed her shoulder bag and dragged her along the road. On Wednesday, March 28, a Tanzanian family on Msasani suffered a home invasion by five individuals. They gained access to the house, beat the adult family members and stole numerous valuables. On Tuesday, March 27, a visitor arrived at a non-Embassy house late one evening and convinced the guard to grant access. The visitor knocked on the front door of the house a few times and then wandered over to a car grabbed the keys in the ignition and drove out damaging the gate.

The victim believes that this was an inside job from someone who learned that he didn't always lock his car and sometimes left his keys in the ignition. On Sunday, March 25, a female expat was loading groceries into her car parked outside Shopper's along Haile Selassie. A car pulled up and grabbed her bag, dragging her along the ground. Security guards responded and the assailants let go of the bag. On Sunday, March 25, around 1745 a male was waiting to cross the street near the Sea Cliff Hotel.

A large black 4x4 grabbed his shoulder bag, knocking him to the ground and dragging him until he could disentangle himself. On Tuesday, March 20, around 1930 a female expat left a hotel gym with her bag in search of a taxi she had called. When she was a few yards from the driveway, on Haile Selassie, a small dark 4 x 4 found her, grabbing her bag and dragging her until she could disentangle herself. On Sunday, March 18, an embassy vehicle was headed to the airport. While stopped at a light an assailant tried to open the doors to steal a bag and iPod on the back seat. The doors were locked and the driver drove away.

On Saturday, March 17, around 2240, an American citizen and family were stopped on Mwaya Road waiting for an opening in traffic on Toure. Assailants smashed the rear window and tried to open the driver's door. The doors were locked; the American citizen didn't panic, and drove away, rescuing his family in the process. In early March, in the middle of the night, three or four men broke into two houses in a compound on Msasani. The houses were protected by two guards who were assaulted, injured, and ran off. One house was vacant while the residents were away and it was simply burgled.

the other house the men assaulted the occupants, tied them up and stole numerous valuables. The burglars escaped and the occupants were freed later by guards in a mobile patrol that was conducting rounds. In February, American citizen tourists visiting Serengeti National Park were the victims of armed robbery at a tented camp in the Serengeti region.

SECURITY REMINDERS Pedestrians, Joggers, Cyclists:

Though many of us like to engage in physical activities in the beautiful outdoor environment of the great Msasani Peninsula, activities such as jogging, cycling and walking in areas such as Coco Beach carry the potential of making you a healthy crime victim. The Embassy's Security office does not sanction these outdoor activities. However if you are going to proceed then maximize your awareness and minimize the down side: ·
Ban backpacks and purses. They attract thieves. ·
Select routes where you can run, walk, or bike on the shoulder. Consider heading "counter flow" so you can see the traffic (if it is safe to do so). Don't wear headphones. If you insist, then only wear one earpiece so you can listen to the area around you. ·
Don't be alone. Make a friend.
Walking, jogging, or biking alone is a bad idea. ·
Where/When: Location and time of day are key factors. Never walk, run or bike after dark. You're invisible to traffic but highly visible to thieves. · Consider wearing bright reflective clothing so you stand out, especially during the evening hours. ·
Don't carry a wallet or minimize what's in it.
No flashy watches, jewelry or iPods. Just carry a concealed cell phone and the minimum amount of cash that you need that day. ·
DO NOT CARRY ATM, CREDIT or DEBIT CARDS or you may find yourself on a tour of a lifetime visiting ATM machines until your credit limit is maxed out.

In Dar Es Salaam AVOID walking/biking near: Toure Drive, Coco Beach, Ubungo bus station, the South Beach ferry area or any place where there aren't houses on both sides of the road. Assailants like to hide in/escape to areas with brush and/or areas with crowds. If you go to the South Beach ferry or the Ubungo bus station, arrive and depart in a secured vehicle.
Vehicles: ·
Lock your doors. ·
Close your windows. ·
Set the alarm (if you have one) when you park. ·
Secure bags in the trunk or leave them at home. Bags attract thieves. Cars are glass boxes. If you leave a bag on the seat someone may break the glass.
Don't take bajajs, daladalas, or hail unknown taxis on the street. Come on! Don't be cheap with your life, get a legit taxi from a car service, hotel, or restaurant. ·
If you are driving around late at night be especially cautious when stopped at traffic lights. In order to avoid assault at isolated intersections, some drivers refuse to stop at lights and decide to proceed cautiously after slowing down. That may help to avoid an assault but it also means that all intersections are really dangerous at night whether you have a green light or not. ·

When driving in traffic ensure you leave adequate space between your car and the vehicle ahead. Maintaining a space cushion in front of you is particularly important when stopped in traffic. The practice enables you to maneuver your way out of a sticky situation. ·
Beware of cars driving close to you that may even hit your car from behind, in an attempt to get you out of your car, so that they can victimize you.
Residential Security: ·
Lock all doors and security grills--especially at night. Your guards should check to ensure that they are secured while making their nighttime rounds. · Ensure windows and fire escape grills are secured. · Secure your safe-haven at night. ·
Use your alarm system. Ensure the members of your household know where the alarm panic buttons are and how to use them. ·
Fix any faulty security equipment (grills, security lights, walls, anti-climb devices, doors, etc…).
In Sum: Maximize your awareness and minimize your risks. ·
Share this notice with family and friends. ·
If something untoward happens, please report it to the Embassy so we can assist you as well as learn from the incident. ·
Please program the following numbers into your cell phones, your family members' cell phones, kids' cell phones.
The Consular Section is open for routine American Citizen Services by appointment only. You can schedule appointment at our website www.tanzania.usembassy.gov.

For General American Citizen Inquiries please email us at drsacs@state.gov.

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