According to the U.S. Department of State as of 23 May 2019, there is an alarming trend affecting foreign visitors. This could include tourists, students, and other short-term visitors. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, is reporting the targeting of foreign visitors for robbery across Ukraine.
The scheme involves visitors being befriended by unknown persons in the area they are visiting. A typical ruse is a perpetrator stating they are a traveler in need of help or assistance. At some point during the interaction, the victims report becoming ill and/or unconscious after having a drink.
The assumption is the drinks are being spiked with a narcotic to induce incapacitation. Once the victim is in a vulnerable state, they are being robbed. There are also reports of armed robberies and shootings occurring which are targeting the same demographic.
Some precautions can be taken to mitigate this risk:
- Maintain situational awareness at all times
- Key a low-profile and avoid displaying items of value like expensive jewelry
- Avoid traveling alone
- Avoid giving the impression of wealth
- Stay extra vigilant in areas known to be frequented by foreigners
- Avoid using ATM’s in public view if possible
- Do not accept drinks from strangers and do not leave drinks unattended
Make sure you are diligent when completing your risk assessment prior to travel. A comprehensive understanding of potential threats and how to mitigate them is paramount.
Remember, this type of preparation is not conducted to create a state of paranoia, it is done to create an attitude of confidence knowing you have taken the necessary steps to be ready to the best of your ability.