Bogota - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Petty theft is the biggest risk. Organized crime is also a problem. It is not recommended to walk outside after dark, nor to drive in certain areas of the city. More than half the city is considered a "red zone". There are also occasional protests by people and taxis alike that can disrupt traffic and sometimes grow violent. - Aug 2023

Muggings for wallets and cell phones is really common here. Also I've heard of scopolamine attacks in clubs and bars (where you get robbed at home.) - Feb 2021

Pickpocketing can be bad, especially in central Bogota. - Jul 2020

Be aware of being drugged at parties or in your home. Scopolamine is used to drug people and rob them. Perpetrators typically befriend the victim and drug and rob them in their home. There are also ruses to rob people in taxis. If the taxi suddenly has mechanical problems and pulls over and the thieves jump in. Also thieves hide in the trunks of taxis. - Feb 2020

Bogota is a high-crime city and you need to be very alert to the risk of pick-pocketing, mugging, and scams. You need to be alert and aware of your surroundings, know where you are going, be cautious about using your phone on the street, and be cautious about walking at night. - Nov 2018

No dar papaya! (Don't let yourself be a victim.) Don't carry your phone in your back pocket or it will get swiped. I had one swiped from a front pocket. I carry it in a bag or in an inside pocket now. If you're on your phone outside, pay attention to your surroundings. Colombians have warned me when I've been typing something into my phone out in a park.

It seems pickpockets and some knifepoint robberies seem to pick up around Christmas time. I was more cautious walking my dog at night this past December, but in general I don't ever feel unsafe. Use any big city rules. Avoid bad neighborhoods, but the nice neighborhoods will get the petty thieves looking for opportunities to swipe something. Security seems quite competent and is everywhere. - Sep 2018

The same as any big Latin American city which includes some muggings, and harassment. I have heard that some people have their wallets or phones stolen. The general rule is common sense: be aware of your surroundings, don't walk alone at night, don't go to seedy neighborhoods, don't use your phone or pull out your wallet on the street. - Aug 2018

Muggings are increasingly common, especially cell phone theft. It's become so common, that the government decriminalized the theft of cell phones, so there's nothing the police will do. Gringos should watch their purses and drinks at bars. Recommend bringing cross-body purses and leaving all jewelry at home. In general, Brazil felt more safe than here. - May 2018

Just like any other big city, don't walk around flaunting your best jewelry or cell phone. Also be careful when you go to bars and to watch your drink at all times. - Apr 2016

Yes. Petty theft is not uncommon, and even the occasional mugging at knifepoint occurs. That said, nothing has happened to me or my family. If the government can finalize a peace agreement with the guerrilla groups, that will eliminate an element of insecurity. - Aug 2015

Security is a huge concern. People stay in their neighborhoods and are inside by dark. - Aug 2014

Tons. Many diplomats and private sector energy employees require body guards and armoured cars in many areas of the country. The U.S. Embassy severely limits travel for personal reasons. Certain major highways still have FARC checkpoints. While most urban areas are significantly safer, rural areas are still dangerous in much of the country. There are concerns of kidnapping, land mines; more so in areas where illegal armed groups remain. This affects your ability to travel to many of the rural tourism opportunities. Driving is also limited because certain highways pass through dangerous areas. You must fly to many locations driving up the costs of your weekend trip. - Jun 2014

Colombia still has a very high murder rate, but Bogota itself has become increasingly safe. While robberies and muggings still happen, you can avoid most of that by using common sense (travel with a buddy, walk purposefully, don't wear ostentatious jewelery, and do NOT pull your Iphone 4 out in public if you don't have to. - May 2013

The country has various security challenges. In the north of Bogota where most expats live, there is some petty crime, but for the most part there are no significant issues. - Oct 2012

Bogota is a danger-pay post, and there are definitely security concerns on a larger, narco-terrorist level. On a day-to-day basis, there is normal, big-city street crime, so you just have to be aware all the time and use common sense. - Jul 2012

For government folks, the danger pay of 15% is nowhere near sufficient. The danger is not from without, but from within. The foreign nationals (even Colombians generally recognize this)are incredibly non-direct in their personal dealings. They are, without exception, friendly in social and work settings, but can be dangerously spiteful and devious. Imagine an entity run by the foreign national mafia where the current management kowtows to their every demand. It is a viper's nest. - Apr 2012

It's a big city with a certain level of crime. The Millionaire's Run is not unheard of, where a taxi locks you in and takes you around the city to take money out of cash machines. Robberies at knifepoint are becoming increasingly common in the north of Bogota where most official Americans live. I generally don't leave the house with anything that I couldn't stand to lose. That being said, I've lived in lots of big cities (NY, Paris, Washington DC) and don't feel any more insecure in Bogota than in those places. You just have to use your street smarts. - Dec 2011

Of course there have been issues since we've been here, but daily life rolls along without much fear for personal safety. There are some big-city petty crime problems with an underlying sense of "we hope there isn't anything bigger to worry about". (FARC, etc.) - Jul 2011

The same as in all the big cities, but We live in secure areas. - Nov 2010

Lots. There is the obvious threat of the FARC, then you have a lot of street crime. I always feel I have to look over my shoulder here. - Sep 2010

Yes. Security concerns include sometimes-violent street crime, home invasions, FARC-inspired terrorism, and the inability to use public transport. All trips out of town have to be approved by the RSO. Currently the third-biggest city in Colombia, Cali, is simply off limits. - Aug 2010

All of the big-city security issues you would find anywhere, plus the diminishing threat of kidnapping. - Aug 2010

Bogota is considered a high threat post. Crime is high--like in many big cities--and there is minimal risk of kidnapping. This said, I feel quite safe here and think that with a little precaution you'll have no troubles. - Aug 2010

You cannot drive to the south of the city. I've heard that cellphones are the target. You cannot use expensive jewelry, and you cannot travel by car from one state to the other one because of "las Farc". Driving here is an issue. They really drive poorly. - Jun 2010

Almost all of my staff were robbed this year. Just cell phones, but one was pushed into a car to do the millionaire's run (take you around to ATMs to drain your account). Yes, lots of crime in Bogota. And there are neighborhoods in all cities that tourists would not want to visit. Much of the country is off-limits due to the conflict, but most large cities are accessible. - Jan 2010

I've heard about embassy folks being mugged, but I feel extremely safe in the city. - Sep 2009

Lots of crime and the ever present worries of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the FARC decide to do something - Dec 2008

Yes, lately there have been more armed robberies and the threat of attacks against Americans is very real. - Dec 2008

Some, I guess given the history of this country, lots of demonstrations. But I feel safe going around, doing shopping. - Nov 2008

Both street crime and terrorism, though more of the former. - Nov 2008

The security concerns are very real. I am here with my three small children. On the surface, people are eating picnics in the park, riding bikes, always laughing and kissing and enjoying life but just under the surface it's scary. In the year I've been here, I've had a few friends get robbed and much worst. I myself, have been safe and enjoyed myself but AGAIN, I'm a New Yorker and many big city people do just fine here because we don't go where we aren't supposed to and we're on alert at all times. . .using all the common sense God gave us! - May 2008

Embassy employees are not permitted to hail taxis or ride buses. Some employees have been robbed of electronics or jewelry while jogging, so use caution when going outside. Otherwise it is pretty safe within Bogota. - Apr 2008

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