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2007 Warden Messages

Crime Update (July 18, 2007)

July 18, 2007

The United States Embassy is sending this Warden Message to update the American community of the crime situation in Mozambique.  This information was provided by the Regional Security Office (RSO) of the U.S. Embassy.

As many of you know, crime in the Maputo and Matola areas has increased significantly.  There has been a surge in violent crimes such as carjackings, bank robberies, armed assaults at ATMs, home invasions, and robberies of commercial stores.  Violent crime has occurred in many areas of the city and at various times of the day and night.  Some of the areas affected include multiple locations along the Marginal, the baixa, Julius Nyerere, Alto Maé, communities along the outskirts of Maputo, and in Matola.  Additionally, violent criminal activity has increased in the Sommerschield area.  Many of these incidents involve criminals armed with automatic weapons.  Although no area of the city is designated off-limits to U.S. government employees, everyone is strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of security awareness and follow good security practices. 

To combat the increased level of crime, the Government of the Republic of Mozambique (GRM) has ordered military police units to begin citywide patrols.  Military police units will be conducting patrols during the day and night as a supplement to existing police security measures.  You should expect to see increased police patrols and checkpoints throughout the city.  Do not drive through a police checkpoint until police or military officials direct you to do so. 

It is strongly recommended that you have appropriate identification with you at all times.  Additionally, ensure that you have all required vehicle documents such as registration and insurance information with your vehicle.

To reduce your risk of being a crime victim, the RSO recommends that Americans follow the security advice provided below:

1. Banking: If you must use an ATM, choose an ATM located in the most secure area possible.  For example, using ATMs at places such as Game, Super Mares or any location that allows you to withdraw cash without being on the street is the best option.

2. Residential Security:  Ensure your homes are properly secured at night.  All doors and windows should be secure, and if you have a residential alarm, use it.  Alarms offer you early warning to a potential home invasion and the siren often is enough of a deterrent to cause potential thieves to flee.  Review residential emergency planning.  Use your safe haven grill gates at night, if you have them, and make sure your families know what to do in an emergency. 

3. Carjacking Avoidance:  Remain vigilant while driving anywhere in Mozambique.  Ensure that vehicle windows are rolled up and doors are locked.  If you are dropping someone off, please do so quickly and avoid conversations in a parked vehicle, especially on more remote streets.  Also, be aware that carjackers use multiple techniques to seize vehicles.  Often, carjackings involve multiple assailants.  Listed below are some common techniques used by carjackers.  This information was previously distributed via a Warden Message in September 2006:

Simple Commandeering – The attackers approach the vehicle while it is stopped.  The driver and any passengers are then forced out or taken hostage.  The attackers then take the vehicle.  Note: It has been normal practice for any hostages to be released shortly after a vehicle is carjacked regardless of the carjacking technique used. 
The Bump – The attackers bump the victim’s vehicle from behind.  When the victim exits the vehicle to assess the damage and exchange information, the vehicle is taken.
Good Samaritan – The attackers stage what appears to be an accident.  They may simulate an injury.  The victim stops to assist and the vehicle is taken.
The Ruse – The vehicle behind the victim flashes its lights or the driver waves to get the victim’s attention.  The attackers indicate that there is a problem with the victim’s car to get the victim to pull over.  Once the victim pulls over, the vehicle is taken.
The Trap – The attackers use surveillance to follow the victim home.  When the victim waits for the gate to be opened, the attackers then block the victim’s escape and take the vehicle.

The Roadblock – The attackers select an attack site on a roadway that can be easily blocked with items such as trees or stones.  Once a vehicle is forced to stop because of the obstruction, it is commandeered.  This technique is usually used in isolated locations.
The Moving Roadblock – The attackers use their vehicles to get in front and behind a target vehicle.  Once this occurs, the attackers in the front vehicle brake suddenly forcing the target vehicle to stop.  The vehicle is then commandeered.  Like the roadblock, this technique is normally used in remote or desolate areas.
We do not recommend driving outside of Maputo after dark. 

4. Reassess your personal security:  Be aware of your surroundings and be especially careful when out after dark.  Although crime can happen during daytime hours, the risks are higher at night.  Be especially cautious at night and carefully evaluate whether or not you need to be out late.  Areas around hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants are often areas where criminals focus their efforts.  Remember there is some degree of safety in numbers.  Try to not be out alone, especially after dark.  In most cases, it is better not to resist a carjacking or other criminal act unless your life or the lives of other individuals are in imminent danger.  Please remember that your vehicle and other personal possessions are not worth your life, the lives of family members, or the lives of friends. 

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found.  Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy is located at 193 Avenida Kenneth Kaunda, Maputo
Telephone (258) 21 49 2797; Fax (258) 21 49 0448
Web site:  http://Mozambique.USEmbassy.gov
E-mail: ConsularMaputo@state.gov

Emergency After hours phone: 21 49 0723 or 82 310 7190

The Consular section is normally open Monday to Thursday 7:30- 4:00 (closed 12:00 to 1:00) and Fridays 7:30 to 11:00.

Visa interviews are normally conducted on Tuesday and Thursday morning, so it is advised to schedule non-emergency visits to the Consular section at other times.