The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office recently updated the travel advice for visitors to Ecuador to reflect an increase in the number of robberies on interstate transport and at bus stations in major cities.

Express kidnappings, in which kidnappers take a person to series of ATMs and force them to hand over money before releasing them, are another threat. World Nomads offers further information on this, including areas to avoid and guidance on which taxi companies are safe.

The video below from the FCO has useful advice for travellers – worth the quick watch.

From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

There has been a further increase in robberies on interstate transport and at bus stations, especially Quito, Baños and Mindo tourist towns. Most incidents took place at night. Where possible you should avoid travelling by road after dark. Cases involving British nationals have been reported on the routes between Quito and Baños; Baños and Cuenca; Quito and Tulcan; Quito and Mindo; Quito and Guayaquil; Quito and Cuenca; Quito and Latacunga; Quito and Otavalo; Quito and Mindo; Guayaquil and Cuenca; and Latacunga and Quilotoa. Don´t store your bag in overhead luggage space or underneath your seat. Keep your valuables in a safe place, preferably in a money belt or safe inside pocket.

Avoid taking interstate buses with a reputation for stopping to pick up passengers at night as many criminals use this means to attack passengers.

Express kidnappings – short-term opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash from the victim – also occur, particularly in Quito and Guayaquil. Victims can be targeted or selected at random and held while criminals empty their bank accounts with stolen cash cards. This type of crime can involve illegitimate and registered taxis. Ecuadoreans and foreign visitors are targets.

The use of unregistered taxis significantly increases the risk of becoming a victim of crime. Try to book a taxi through your hotel or by calling a known radio taxi service. If you are using an authorised taxi (yellow cab) in Quito and Guayaquil make sure it has the municipality registration number sticker displayed on the windscreen and doors; the orange license plates or the new white plates with an orange strip on the top and video cameras inside. Avoid hailing a taxi on the street. Larger supermarkets and airports have taxi ranks.

In mid-2013, the Ecuadorean National Transit Agency launched the ‘Secure Transport’ project throughout Ecuador. This includes the installation of security kits – video cameras, panic buttons and GPS – inside interstate buses and registered taxis. You should only use the yellow registered taxis, with the ‘transporte seguro’ logo, if a radio taxi isn’t available.

You can also order a secure taxi from a new free smartphone application ‘Easy Taxi’, available for Android and iPhone. A photo, the name of the taxi driver and the vehicle description will be sent to the customer.

Watch this this video from the British Embassy in Quito for more information and tips on transport safety:

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ecuador

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