Risk of Crime in Phuket
Most visitors to Phuket will experience a perfectly safe and enjoyable holiday. Crime does exist and so it is important that visitors remain vigilant. The fact that Phuket is such a famous tourist destination means that it can attract criminals seeking easy prey. These criminals will not only be Thai nationals but also other foreign visitors. In most instances it will be possible for people to avoid becoming a victim of crime simply by taking sensible precautions. It is important to keep in mind that the rate of crime in Phuket is relatively low – especially when compared to many western countries.
Common Types of Crime in Phuket
The most common types of crime that visitors are likely to become victim of in Phuket include:
- Some foreign visitors have brought a stranger back to their hotel for sex only to wake up the next morning with their valuables missing. This is most likely to happen with a freelance prostitute and in many cases the victim of the robbery will have been drugged to make them sleep.
- If valuables are left out in the open there is a risk that they will be stolen. This type of crime is often committed by other foreigners.
- There are many different scams in Phuket which almost always involve a friendly stranger with a helpful and rewarding offer. The scam can end up with the victim buying something like overpriced gems or losing their money in a card game.
- One of the most common scams in Phuket is commission touts. In most instances these people will not be actually breaking the law, but they can sometimes grossly overcharge for services or tours – they act as a middleman and add a commission fee which they keep.
- The jet ski scam is where tourists who have rented a jet ski are charged for damage that they did not cause. The jet ski is in the water when it is rented so that people are unable to see that there is already damage to the underside of the boat – the owner will point this damage out once the jet ski is returned and demand to be paid for it.
- Another scam involves motorbike rentals. If there is any damage to the bike the owner can demand that the renter pays extortionate amounts to have it fixed – in some cases this damage will have already been done to the bike prior to the rental.
- People who attempt to buy illegal drugs can end up having their belongings stolen instead. The fact that they were breaking the law at the time means that they are unlikely to report the crime.
- Some taxi drivers can try to grossly overcharge the unwary visitor.
- Violent crime against tourists is relatively rare in Phuket. It is more likely to occur when a tourist acts aggressively or rudely towards a local Thai.
- Friendly expats can also be scam artists. They will try to entice the naïve tourist into investing money into their get rich quick scheme.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Crime in Phuket
There are things that visitors to Phuket can do to reduce their risk of becoming a victim of crime including:
- If people are inebriated they will be at an increased risk of crime. This is because their decreased mental facilities make them an easier target.
- Some of those who fall victim to crime in Phuket can be involved in illegal activity themselves at the time. Those who engage in behaviors such as buying illegal drugs will be at much greater risk of crime because of the people they will be dealing with.
- It is sometimes claimed that, if people expect to become the victim of crime they are paranoid, but if they expect not to become the victim of crime they are naïve. The best advice is to be vigilant but not overly suspicious.
- Phuket is generally speaking a safe place but it is still best to avoid walking alone in secluded areas at night time.
- It is always a good idea to be suspicious of strangers who are overly friendly. This is particularly true when this person starts up a conversation in the middle of the street.
- If somebody is offering a bargain that sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
- Many victims of crime later claim that they had a bad feeling about the person or situation but they ignored it. It is important to trust intuitions and if a situation feels wrong to just leave.
- It is not just overly friendly Thai nationals who can be a danger but also other foreigners. Beware of anyone who seems to be trying to sell something or offer a deal that sounds too good to be true.
- Avoid buying anything from commission touts as this just means paying more money. It is best to buy things directly from the seller.
- Those who are renting a car, motorbike, or jet ski should conduct a careful examination of the vehicle before they accept it. Any existing damage should be noted on the rental agreement.
- People should avoid handing over their passport when renting motorbikes or other vehicles. This gives the rental agent too much power and is too risky.
- It is important that visitors never act in an aggressive manner towards a Thai or cause them to lose face. Such behavior can quickly escalate into physical violence.
- When going by taxi always insist that the driver uses their meter or agree on a price beforehand.
- Avoid breaking the law in Thailand. This might not only put the individual in legal difficulties but it also increases the likelihood that they will become a victim of crime themselves.
- Avoid bringing complete strangers back to hotel rooms.
How to Deal with Crime in Phuket
It is usually better to deal with the tourist police rather than the regular police in Phuket. This is because these officers will be more experienced with dealing with foreign visitors. They are also more likely to be able to speak English. In Phuket there is also the volunteer police force that is made up of foreigners. The volunteers liaise between the foreigners and the Thai police. The tourist police can be contacted from anywhere in Thailand at the telephone number 1155.