Most tourists have a tendency to feel some apprehension when it comes to their personal safety, especially when they try new and unfamiliar holiday destinations.
Cape Verde Islands have seen an increase in tourism in recent years (about 400.000 tourists in 2010) and that has invariably brought an increase in crime, making Cape Verde no different from other holiday destinations.
Having said that, it should be noted that Cape Verde is a relatively safe destination for visitors and tourists when compared to other countries. In Africa and according to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an independent evaluator of African nations, Cape Verde is ranked 3rd of all 53 African countries in terms of Personal Safety and Rule of Law, only behind two other fantastic holiday destinations; Mauritius and the Seychelles Islands.
Minor crimes like petty theft and robbery are the most common, especially in the larger cities of Praia in Santiago Island and Mindelo in São Vicente where crime levels are highest. Crowded areas such as market places, festivals, celebrations or the more popular beaches, is where incautious tourists are most vulnerable.
A lot of this crime is done by Nigerians and Senegalese but Cape Verdeans are also involved. Beaches are also one of the favorite places for pickpockets to ply their trade, many times coming in groups that quickly snatch handbags, wallets or cameras, or break into hotel rooms at night. This is why you will find armed guards with baseball bats in Santiago and Boa Vista Islands.
Here are a some simple basic precautions and advice that you should take to prevent you from getting robbed, mugged or scammed during your Cape Verde Holidays;
- Don’t walk around alone at night in unfamiliar areas as you may become an easy target for a mugger. If you want to walk around and explore the night, do so in a group. Women especially should absolutely not walk around alone at night as they tend to attract unsolicited attention from obnoxious males, or worse, muggers.
- Don’t flash large amounts of money around as this would mark you as a target for pick-pockets or scam artists who may try to talk you out of the money they know you are carrying.
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended or out of your sight as they are likely to be stolen when you’re not looking. Instead, leave them in a hotel safe, even if you have to pay the €4.00 fee that many hotels charge for a safe. Make sure you take a picture of your valuables to document them for insurance purposes or to make a claim with the hotel, just in case.
- Don’t leave anything, even low value items, inside an unattended parked car. There are too many incidents where windows were smashed and trivial items were stolen. Also you could be held liable for damages to a car rental if you did not purchase optional insurance.
- When you find yourself in crowded areas, be constantly aware of your surroundings. Don’t become distracted or taken off your guard by unusual activity, like someone bumping into you or asking you odd questions. This usually is an indication of a pickpocket in action.
- Be careful about confidence tricks or scams. If a stranger approaches you with a very credible story that requires you to part with any money, no matter how small you think the amount may be, you are probably being scammed.
- Don’t pack your valuables like cameras, jewelry, passports, travel documents or items that may hold sentimental value, into your luggage when traveling by air. They should always be kept in your carry on hand bags, just in case the airline company loses your luggage.
In short, take all the normal, common sense precautions, like not showing signs of affluence, avoid carrying valuables in public and remain vigilant at all times, and most of all, enjoy yourself and everything that Cape Verde has to offer!
In case you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime in Cape Verde, contact the local police. The emergency line in Cape Verde is: 132 (Police) and 131 (Fire Brigade). You should however be aware that response times can vary and that service standards may not be as efficient as in the US, UK or other EU countries.
You can find lots of valuable information on Safety and Security precautions plus travel advice when visiting the Cape Verde Islands. Just click the links below:
Foreign Embassies and Consulates in Cape Verde
There is no British Embassy in Cape Verde. The British Ambassador to Cape Verde resides in Dakar. Mr Antonio Canuto, the British Honorary Consul in Mindelo, Sao Vicente island, can provide limited assistance in an emergency; (tel: +238 2322830), or ask for Mr Canuto’s assistant, Isabel Spencer (tel: 238) 2323512 or 2323123.
Embassy of France in Praia, Cape Verde.
Address: Quartier Prainha da Praia – Santiago.
P.O. BOX: 192 – 76000 Praia
Phones:  261 55 91 /  261 20 69 Fax:  261 55 90
Germany has no Embassy or Consulate in Cape Verde
The closest contact is in Dakar, Senegal
Phone: +221-8894884 Fax: +221-8225299
For European tourists whose countries have no diplomatic representation in Cape Verde, we suggest contacting the French Embassy above.
Stay safe and enjoy your Cape Verde Holidays!