Security and Armory
If you plan to move to to the DR, then it’s important to realize that there are the “Have’s” and the “Have not’s”. It’s a third world country and if you leave yourself open to be mugged or robbed, then the chances are high that you will be! Typically if you’re white, then you’re considered rich in many locals eyes (even if you’re struggling to get by).
Make sure that you check out the various residential areas before you accept a villa or apartment. Most foreigners will give you their run down on what security measures they are taking to secure themselves and their belongings in each specific town or area. Gated communities usually have security guards which you pay for either through your rental agreement or separately.
Unless the Gated Community is paying top dollar for a security company which has modern communication tools, a tight system and great screening then you can normally expect that the level of quality is much to be desired. Guards are only getting paid anywhere between 6-10000 pesos per month and it’s quite common to catch them sleeping at night. Most robberies are either linked to the security guards or done directly by them. So often when community’s want joint security rather than individual security, then it’s like “The wolves looking after the sheep”. If you plan to secure a villa, then often the best security is what you provide yourself.
Here are some tips:
- As most burglaries are inside jobs then be extremely picky on who you hire as a guard, house keeper, nanny or gardener (if you can handle it yourself, then that is often safer). Individuals looking for work have an amazing ability to come across as angels, when only a small percentage are. If you hire based on recommendation, then be sure that the person who recommends the potential staff member is someone you would trust with the title to your house! In other words many scams happen here where even the recommending person is in on the robberies – so be very careful when recruiting!
- Keep it to your closest friends if you’re throwing a party or if you are going away for the day – a weekend or for a while. Be very careful who comes into your property I.e. prostitutes, motoconcho’s, taxi drivers, cleaning staff and police are renown for casing your place, and then soon after you get burgled (often by police with masks). If someone you don’t know asks you where you live, be vague in your answer I.e. “Cabarete” and quickly bounce a question at them to get off the topic. If they persist, then simply say – “with all due respect (name) – I prefer to get know people for a while before I entrust where I live as too many bad things happen in this area – I hope you understand!”. If they don’t understand or respect that, then that should be a warning sign in itself.
- Get a Legal weapon with license – on the North Coast we recommend the arms dealer opposite Casa Nelson in Puerto Plata. A shotgun & license cost from RD32,000 and upwards depending on the model. Both rubber and normal shells can be purchased.
- Hand Guns are twice the price or more and require yearly taxes paid on them. Be careful of a common scam which can get you into a very messy and costly situation, which is buying a second hand gun through some amigo who’s got some other great amigo with an unlicensed weapon. Often they sell you the gun or shotgun for a cheap price and next they dob you into the corrupt police who then throw you in jail, and now you have to pay some insane amount to get out again, which all the culprits get a piece of – just not worth the risk! Often it’s the people who come to you with some offer that’s got a scam up their sleeve. If burglars know you have weapons and they have seen you leave your property, then they will try to burgle you to get the weapons. With “fast in and out” burglaries, they are usually after cash, jewelry, lap tops, weapons or other small stuff that can be carried on a motor bike and resold in a hurry.
- Ensure your property is well fences to make it hard for burglars to enter, and even add other materials on top if you can stand looking at them – also sensors or cameras can be erected to make it even more secure. Some even have metal bars on all windows and doors, but again it depends on where you are living and how secure you wish to be and if it makes you feel jailed by doing so.
- Get 2-3 dogs. Two for outside – especially spaded females are very protective and on alert, where male dogs often get lazy after a couple of years. Get one for inside as your live “indoor alarm system” for when you are sleeping. Maybe get a small dog who will bark his head off if it hears something going on outside. This little fella might just save you in case burglars poison the outside dogs followed by them entering your yard.
- Keep as little cash or valuables in the house as possible and DON’T build a safe. Either a construction worker or a maid will know or find out you have it, and this slips out among their friends who tells someone else about this “treasure chest” or they get involved in arranging a burglary with someone they know.
- As a foreigner, avoid getting into vulnerable situations I.e. walking in the wrong neighborhood or street especially at night. Or walking in a remote area where you could be attacked. Buy a small can of Mace (Pepper spray) and maybe carry a weapon as well if you do have to venture out of the public’s eye. Most attacks and burglaries are coward attacks. When challenged, most locals take off, as they were not really looking for a fight, but instead an easy financial catch. If you come driving at night and you ever have someone jump out in front of you with a gun, then try to run him over or at least avoid stopping and get away from him. May sound harsh, but it’s either you or him that ends up unlucky!
- Don’t flaunt your stuff, money etc… - here it’s not so much admired but rather envied and chased! (Down play your income if you are doing well, as this can make them come for your stuff as well)
- Like anywhere else in the world, lock your car, steering lock, house, gate etc…
- If you ever think of calling the Police, then try to get an experienced “friend” with the right connections to help you out, or they will try to extort money from you to substitute their low wages!
The good news is that in general it’s quite safe to move around when you are in the eye of many people I.e. in towns, near shops, restaurants, schools etc… just use common sense and if you are ever followed by someone in public, then turn around and challenge them confidently I.e. “Que Passa?” and 99% of the time they will move on, as they don’t want public attention.
June 7, 2011
Category: DR Living |