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Expat Advice about Crime & Safety in Ecuador

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Advice from Expats in Ecuador about Safety, Security and Crime in Ecuador.

Expat Advice  - Crime & Safety in Ecuador

Safety and Security for Expats in Ecuador is critical. Below we have pulled together some thoughts, tips and general strategies for staying safe from our Ecuador Forum and the U.S. Department of State:

From our Ecuador Forum for Expats:

"I've been working on my situational awareness. I had it pretty good years ago but I've gotten slack. On my first trip out, to Basque mall west of the airport, I found myself reverting to stateside behavior. A woman in a sales kiosk handed me a piece of paper and I took it. I chided myself outloud for forgetting to NOT accept things in that way. My friend said... "Here it's ok, on the street it is dangerous." No, better to get in the habit of never accepting something, making it automatic, without any thinking. A thousand times it doesn't matter then one time it does."


"Thank you for the reminder. I know that many on this forum feel the subject is being beaten to death, I disagree. Because, we are talking about deeply ingrained habit, the habit of being blissfully UNaware. A sign of having grown up in a less challenging environment."

"The thread on Guayaquil bus Safety is to be observed in all the major cities. The reason crime rises during the holidays is due due to more crimes of opportunity with the influx of foreigners and foreign family members."


"I have not had anything stolen because I remain aware of my surroundings most of the time. Once while shopping in the tourist area of the Quito Malecon I caught 3 young men following us. There is a reason the Embassy posts warnings for this area. Again, in Ahtacames, 3 young men were following us. Both times I made eye contact and made 'gestures' and they moved on. Both times were during the day."

"Last year we escorted a 67-year-old woman (stranger to us) to one of the street markets for an hour because her husband was too drunk at the casino to take her and she was going alone. That would have been a risk that should not be taken in Quito."


"I got a chance yesterday to practice the good advise presented here. A couple of malls, the square with the presidential palace and Parque Carolina, on the bus. The articulated bus made me think of a pea being shot down a crooked straw. I've seen fair rides that cost more and did less. Plus a lot of bumping of people packed in like sardines.

Not having a fat wallet or anything in the pants pockets is a must (for me) Cash in a tee shirt pocket, atm card well hidden and not obvious. The ton of coins I had at the end of the day were in the front right pants pocket... good luck to the pick pocket on them, I struggled to retrieve them.

The camera, my cheap wall mart digital, $20. When not active it was in a zipper'd breast pock in the shirt worn over the tee. The pictures were ok, but just. I will take the nice camera out when I feel more confident. I keep thinking of a lanyard of some sort for it, back up for the strap."


"When you give people the freedom to share their experiences regarding crime in Ecuador, a picture starts to form. Finally, people are understanding that Ecuador can be a very dangerous place, even if you live there, and think you know the parameters of the culture of crime.

One simply cannot drop their guard at anytime, and must be aware of their surroundings at all times. One has to be careful what they wish for, and who they trust. Unsaveries have learned very quickly, that, "gaming," is the quickest path yet, to wealth and power."

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: Jan 06, 2011

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