Crime & Safety Situation

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Kenya  remains critically rated for both Crime and Transnational Terrorism. The Embassy updated the travel warning for Kenya in February 2009 to note the recent security situation following the disputed 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. However, the greatest threats in Kenya  continue to be road safety, crime and terrorism. The most common crime in Kenya’s major cities, and in particular Nairobi, is car-jacking. In virtually every instance, carjackers use weapons to rob their victims.

Most victims, if they are completely cooperative, are released unharmed with their vehicles. However, victims are sometimes tied up and put in the back seat or trunk of their own car. Criminals who commit these crimes will not hesitate to shoot a victim who is the least bit uncooperative or who may appear to hesitate before complying with their assailant.

Street crime is a serious problem and more acute in Nairobi and other larger cities. Most street crime involves multiple armed assailants. In some instances, large crowds of street thugs incite criminal activity, which has the potential to escalate into mob-like violence with little notice. Pickpockets and thieves often carry out “snatch & grab” attacks on city streets in crowded areas, as well as on idle vehicles in traffic and commit other crimes of opportunity.

Vehicle side mirrors are a favorite prize of Street boys, who can pull them off in a matter of seconds while a vehicle is stopped or slow moving traffic. Visitors are advised not to carry expensive valuables such as jewelry, electronics, etc., or large amounts of cash on them, but rather store valuables in their hotel safety deposit boxes or room safes.

However, it is not prudent to travel with such items at all, since hotel safes can be broken into or taken out of a room and might also be accessible by hotel personnel even when locked. Walking alone is not advisable especially in downtown areas, public parks, beach areas, and other poorly lit areas, especially at night.

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