criminal situation on Russian trains
(in response to some of the recent Notice Board questions on train and airplane safety)
Train safety is much higher, and criminal situation is much less serious than most travel books want you to believe. In close to 10 years I have been assisting foreign travelers not one of them got into trouble while on the train. I had my wallet cut out once but that happened somewhere between Bratislava and Warsaw, not in Russia...
Police present is rather noticeable and reassuring in Russian trains. That makes criminals resourceful. Most crimes involve entering into a relationship with the victim: drinking, playing cards, and otherwise making friends. Railroad police claims to solve 90% of crimes reported.
Example of crimes:
- plain straight-forward theft and pick-pocketing (rare)
- robbery (extremely rare)
- impersonating a friend of your compartment neighbor and taking away the luggage
- sleeping pills (clonidine) into your vodka or even tea
- [I'M QUESTIONING THOSE WHO TRAVEL BY TRAIN EXTENSIVELY TO COLLECT CRIME STORIES - CHECK BACK LATER - I WAS PROMISED AN INTERVIEW WITH A LADY WHO GETS INTO A MISADVENTURE JUST ABOUT ANY TIME SHE TRAVELS]
- Lock your compartment for the night
- Watch your luggage
- Keep your valuables on you
- Be discreet in making friends in trains. That is not to say avoid contact with fellow travellers, just watch out. If you can't see the crook, you deserve it, which is not to say he doesn't deserve the gallows.
- Avoid alcohol abuse. In fact, given the often stuffy air and dirty washrooms, consider avoiding alcohol altogether.
- Watch out if invited to a game of cards. At one time enticing people in to games of cards was a standard prelude to crime.
- [ANYTHING ELSE?]
IT IS COMMON TO GRAB EACH OTHER'S BAGS BY MISTAKE. I'VE SEEN SEVERAL OF THESE SITUATIONS. MAKE SURE YOUR POSSESSIONS ARE CLEARLY LABELED.
Another related page I can think of is the old What to take with you on your Russian journey.
Train tickets ~ Moscow to St. Petersburg ~ Horse riding at our cottage