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Messages for American Citizens

General Threat of Crime in Haiti

November 8, 2011

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is issuing this Message to remind U.S. citizens that the threat of crime in Haiti, including kidnappings, is critical.  It is paramount for each individual to employ sound security precautions at all times. Crime is indiscriminate; it can happen anywhere, at anytime, and can be violent.   Pay close attention to your surroundings at all times and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

We further remind U.S. citizens that particular caution should be practiced in isolated areas, after dark, and when traveling alone.

Please report any actual or suspicious incidents immediately to the police.

Please read the following information to help avoid becoming a victim of a crime, random act of violence, or kidnapping.

AROUND YOUR RESIDENCE

  • Be aware of people in your neighborhood.
  • Keep your security lights on.
  • Padlock all doors and grills (with the locks inside) that are not used regularly.
  • Keep the telephone numbers (cell and fixed) of several neighbors handy.
  • Report any suspicious activity to the police.
  • Be aware of the areas you drive into around your residence – be alert, if you see something suspicious, drive away.

IN THE CAR

  • Drive slowly and cautiously. Be a proactive and positive driver – anticipate problems.
  • Be aware that driving in any crowded city can be like driving on a crowded sidewalk. Drive slowly and attentively.
  • Keep the doors locked and windows closed.
  • Avoid back roads (shortcuts), stay on main roads.
  • If something doesn’t look good, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts and leave the area.
  • Carry an emergency radio with you at all times. The battery should be charged and the radio should be turned on and monitored.
  • Anticipate fuel needs.
  • Inspect the tires before getting into the car.
  • Vary routes and times of departure. Be unpredictable in your trips, activities, etc.
  • If your car is bumped (usually) from behind, do not get out. Get the plate number and go to nearest commissariat.
  • In the event of an accident, use common sense. Do not stay at the scene. Immediately go to the nearest commissariat to resolve the issue and inform the police.

IN THE EVENT OF A KIDNAPPING

  • At the time of the abduction, try to stay calm. Remember that things are being done on your behalf.
  • Try to get a description of the perpetrators.
  • Try to get a description of where you are being taken.
  • Have a telephone number of someone you trust to give to the kidnappers.
  • Do not give the kidnappers the telephone numbers of friends.
  • Do not tell kidnappers about persons who can give money.
  • Show respect.
  • Be prepared for physical abuse.
  • Keep your options open - if you can escape, do so.
  • In case of a rescue operation by the police, lay flat on the floor and tell them who you are in a loud voice.

For further information about the situation in Haiti, please refer to our current Travel Warning and the Country Specific Information.  Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website http://www.travel.state.gov/, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review to "A Safe Trip Abroad," found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html, which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.