Street Crime in Buenos Aires

You are welcome to share your story if you are a tourist and victim of crime in Buenos Aires. Your experiences may help others avoid a problem.

Feb 8, 2012 WARNING: If you are mugged in Buenos Aires do NOT attempt to fight off the thieves. They are usually armed, either with gun or knife. This morning a tourist taking photographs was killed when three men attempted to steal his camera and bag. When he resisted he was stabbed and died moments later. This is particularly disturbing since Plaza San Martín is generally one of the safest spots for tourists. It’s a place I would consider safe for taking photographs and not getting robbed. But just be aware that crime can happen anywhere in the city. Be careful, be safe. Enjoy the city & don’t give up your life for a camera.

NOTE: Most people finding this post & leaving comments do so by searching Google for “street crime in Buenos Aires”. The comments below are generally from people who already have been victims of street crime in Buenos Aires. Potential tourists also should be aware that thousands of people visit Buenos Aires each year without encountering any problems. But problems with crime do exist.

I feel very safe walking around Buenos Aires and even where I live in San Telmo, which some people think is not a very safe area. But, again, today I was reminded that thieves come in all types.

Walking out to get the paper this afternoon, I saw two teenage girls chasing another teenage girl and a guy through the intersection of Tacuarí and Brasil.

At first, I didn’t think anything about it. There’s a school on this block and you often see teenagers chasing each other around, just playing. All the teens looked around the same age, appeared to be working class kids from the area.

So, I thought that it was just a game though the two people being chased were taking some chances darting out into traffic. And the girl being chased was smiling, as if it was all a joke, though I did notice she had a backpack in her hands, which is what the other girls appeared to be after.

By this time, a small crowd was gathering on the corner and the girls doing the chasing started shouting, “ladrón”. At that point, everyone standing around started to realize that it wasn’t fun and games. A couple of young guys standing next to me on the corner took off across the street and chased down the girl with the bag.

They finally got the bag back but not the girl or the guy who took it and not before whatever was in the bag was stolen. A policeman eventually arrived and the girl tearfully explained what had happened as she looked through her bag.

This is the third robbery that I have witnessed in the past year. Interestingly, all the victims of those three robberies were not American or European tourists – as one might expect – but South Americans. Indeed, the girl today definitely was local. We have a porteña friend who had her digital camera stolen, snatched straight from her hands while she was taking a photograph. And in front of the Obelisc we saw a man get his wallet lifted from his front pants pocket.

In the other two incidents, the thieves looked like thieving, low-life types. But today’s culprits appeared to be ordinary people, whom you would never suspect. But I don’t want to sound alarmist. I see people wandering around snapping photos with digital cameras all the time. So, I guess it’s just a reminder to be cautious – but not paranoid – of your valuables and your surroundings.

Ceci also saw a man get his wallet stolen as he tried to board a bus in front of Estación Constitución.

A final word about safety in San Telmo: in the past few months, I have noticed that there is now a policeman stationed on just about every other street corner. Their presence is quite obvious at night when the streets are rather empty, but they’re around during the day also. The problem during the day is that the policemen are often hanging out in some kiosk or chatting to the guy selling newspapers. So, you probably have to yell loudly to get their attention. And, I maybe I’m wrong, but somehow I just don’t get the impression that policemen here are going to do a TJ Hooker and chase anyone down. (Ok, I’m showing my age in that cultural reference to American TV). But I do feel safer knowing that the police are fairly visible.

Update: As of 7/29/2014, comments on this post are disabled due to spam.

101 comments on “Street Crime in Buenos Aires

  1. Michael on

    I’m glad to see someone who feels very safe about walking around Buenos Aires. I have been living here for six weeks, and I love this city, but I can’t say that I feel safe about walking around my neighborhood, Monserrat (Chile/San Jose), at night. In those six weeks I have been robbed and/or mugged four times, once by someone who threatened me with a knife. Most recently it was a group of three kids who restrained me and took my money. Fortunately I did not lose too much, since my previous experiences taught me only to take with me what I need at night, and nothing else. I’m tall and blond, two markers that apparently make me an obvious target as a foreigner. And then there’s my crappy Spanish as well.

  2. Jeff on

    Hi Michael,

    Sounds like you’re having some bad luck. Sorry to hear that. Hope that your experience of BsAs improves.

  3. mason on

    Mugged in Buenos Aires-Palermo Area in middle of the day

    I am a 6 ft tall 185lb American visitor who in the middle of the day in the very busy Palermo Area, near the Plaza Serrano area street fair on a Saturday (near Plaza Palermo Viejo) was jumped by two men about my size who likely wanted my Rolex watch (stainless steel, not gaudy.

    I screamed quite loudly, no police were anywhere to be found despite the area being loaded with regulars and tourists alike, and the men got off me, returned to a third man waiting on his motorbike and left with just my 10.00 US sunglasses.

    A few very nice locals apologized to me for “their country.”

    I blame the government not the typical Buenos Aires Argentinian.

    This is not bad luck. Seems to be a common occurrence if one does a search on the web about this.

  4. Jeff on

    Hi Mason, Sorry to hear about your incident.

    But, honestly: if you’re walking around the streets of Buenos Aires wearing a Rolex……

    As I always advise people: be cautious. In addition to the cheap sunglasses, leave the Rolex back home in the U.S. and wear a cheap drugstore watch.

  5. Stuart on

    We were in Buenos Aires on Sunday 7th staying at the Marriott Plaza. We walked down towards the clock tower past the Plaza St. Martin. I noticed a car stop behind us and glimpsed two South American types, a man and a woman get out. She was carrying a town map and whilst I momentarily thought it strange I just assumed they were from the countryside. A few seconds later I was liberally splattered with a huge dollop of foul fishy smelling brown slop. It was on the side of my face, down my back and in my hair. “Sh*t” I thought – literally.

    Next thing the two ‘tourists ‘ ran up and pointed to the trees saying “birds, birds” and the man offered me some tissues. Again I thought it was good luck that they were passing but strange to have a pocket full of Kleenex! Next thing as they fussed over my stinking dilemma the woman spun me round and said “Look at your wife, she’s covered” I was distracted and at this point of contact my wallet was probably stolen from my front trouser pocket. They had squirted a mixture of urine, cement, olive oil and fish oil over us.

    The hotel staff said that gangs of pick pockets come to town on Sundays because the police presence in low – the have to take a day off. The locals are at home, the city is full of tourists and this weekend, being a Bank Holiday there were two big cruise ships in harbour. Rich pickings.

    That afternoon we were ‘attacked with bird sh*t’ again outside Hotel Colon and as the two young people ran up to assist I screamed at them to leave – in slightly more colourful language. They stormed off briskly pointing to the skies and shouting “birds, birds”. I went into the hotel to see three other tourists who had just been robbed. Next day a couple in our hotel were attacked. I asked about the location of the tourist police station but was advised not to go as there wouldn’t be an interpreter in until Tuesday, they were expensive and it would take forever to arrange!

    It didn’t spoil our visit totally but it was uncomfortable walking around the beautiful streets of the city knowing it was open season for tourists weekend.

  6. Jeff on

    Hi Stuart,

    Sorry to hear you were a target of the bird poop scam.

    I do hear about that particular type of attack quite often. It mostly seems only to occur in that area. Your tactic of screaming at the people is a good approach. The fake bird poop is a distraction that throws you off-balance.

    A street-smart tactic for any tourist in a large, foreign city is to remember: if a stranger walks up to you on the street, you should not stop and talk to that person. Keep walking. It’s rude but may keep you safe.


  7. Stuart on

    Hi Jeff,

    S’funny but when I yelled at the two young people I was concerned that I might be seen as being rude! Darned English preconceptions that everyone is ‘nice’. Lesson learned. Thanks,


  8. Stan on

    I arrived in Buenos Aires from Cordoba. 15 minuts later my small bag was stolen – camera, laptop, wallet with passport, vaccinations book, and about 400 dollars. I have been traveling for more tha 14 months and never had any problem. It was the bird poop trick, in front of the train station where the buses are. And I was just thinking about it a day before! Fortunaterly, I didn’t put my more expensive camera in that bag, and all the photos where also in a different bag. But I broke my routine of having my passport, cards and money secure, and it happened… Just 3 seconds and gone. Yes, someone pointed at the sky…and said birds. And imagine, I was protecting myself by not stopping, and I put the bags close to each other in front of me and against a wall. But just a second of looking the other way, and gone…
    I am trying not to think about, I don’t want it to spoil my trip. The bummer is though that we all know how much we, the backpackers, need the money. But what goes around comes around – I am sure something is already waiting for those low-life cowards. After all Central America, and half of the South, I never thought it will happen here, but the lesson is – you just must stay focused.

  9. Jeff on

    Hi Stan, so sorry to hear you fell victim to the bird poop. There does seem to be an uptick in crime here in Buenos Aires. Perhaps the growing economic gap here is a factor. Hope that the rest of your trip goes without problem.

    Stay safe & stay alert.

  10. Elaine on

    I’m going to Buenos Aires with a friend soon (in about a month), final destination will be Porto Alegre Brasil, we were thinking about staying for a few days in BA, and was wondering where would be a good area to rent an apartment, and any other suggestions and hints would be greatly appreciated, specially about clothing and how to blend in, I’m brasilian, caucasian and speak spanish as well, white, short about 5’3″ and brunette, my friend is canadian, caucasian, dark hair and a bit taller than me, does not speak spanish.
    Thanks a lot

  11. Jeff on

    Hi Elaine,

    You should definitely visit BA for a few days. For apt rental, most foreigners rent either in Palermo (trendy & hip), Recoleta/Barrio Norte (posh & stylish), or San Telmo (Bohemian & artsy but a little gritty for some foreigners). Don’t worry about blending in, most foreigners blend in quite well unless you’re wearing a fanny belt, cargo pants, baseball cap or other typical tourist clothing. Just wear normal clothing. In the more common neighborhoods that I mentioned, most of the Argentines are caucasian with brown hair, occasionally blond, in contrast to the darker skin hispanics found in other parts of Latin America. Have a safe & fun trip. Let me know if you need any more info.

  12. Elaine on

    Thank you so much for the reply. No basebal cap huh ? That’s his favorite, ha ha, that cap is staying at home. I was also wondering if there are trains or boats to Porto Alegre or close to the border and if they are pleasant and worth the time, we’re not in a hurry and it would be nice to enjoy the view. I’ve read about the bird poop scam, is there any others we should be aware of ?? Also, what do you think about laptops and cameras w/ big lenses ? is that a big no or is it possible to handle w/o getting killed ? Sorry don’t mean to sound negative, but being brasilian I have an idea of what could happen, but don’t know Argentina at all, first time there. Again, thank you so very much, we appreciate any info.

  13. Jeff on

    I’m not sure about transit up towards Porto Alegre.

    Laptops are very common and I often see locals with their laptops in wi-fi cafes around the nicer neighborhoods.

    And I do see an increasing number of tourists with expensive digital cameras and big lenses. I’ve always been leery of that, but I see it quite often these days. Just maintain a firm grip on all your valuable electronics. The grab-and-run theft is very common, so they look for easy targets. Don’t wave the camera around in one hand and without using the strap; someone will snatch it right out of your hands and dash down the street.

    Basically, just use street smarts & you’ll be fine in BA unless you’re very unlucky. Most of the violent crime here is targeted at the locals who keeps very large sums of cash (tens of thousands of dollars) in their homes.

    Do be careful about counterfeit money. Never give a taxi driver more than a 20 pesos bill. Never expect a taxi driver to change a 100 peso bill, they will ALWAYS will give a fake 50 in change. Some taxi drivers have been known to drive off with a tourist’s luggage, too. So watch that. Keep an eye on the taxi drivers and be careful which cabs you get into, but most are fine for short trips around town.

    Be alert & street smart is the best advice I can give, but also no need to be paranoid.

  14. Elaine on

    Well, I’m getting closer now, no worries, I won’t be paranoid, I’m brazilian, my friend on the other hand, ha ha. Will remember all your suggestions. Thank you so much for taking the time, it’s very much appreciated. Take care. Elaine

  15. Peter on

    I was beaten and robbed in San Telmo on Sunday (3rd May 2009) at 10.30am by two young guys who came up to ask for money with their fingers in their jackets pretending they had a gun. When I refused and turned to walk away, they grabbed my shoulder bag strap which was over my neck and started pulling. I resisted and they pulled me onto the road and dragged me along as I was fighting. They punched me in the temple. A car drove along the street and I thought it would frighten them off, but the car just tooted, drove around them and continued on. There were anout 10 people in the street looking but no on came to help. Eventually the bag strap broke and the guys ran into a house on the street. When I walked away, no one said anything. The police where not interested in going back to the house to question anyone. It was on Mexico and Chacabuco. I lost my camera, telephone and note books etc. I have a bruised ego, scabby knees, elbow and hand and a lump on my head.

    The thing that hurts most is that no one came to help.

  16. Jeff on

    Peter –

    Really sorry to hear that you were attacked. That’s usually a very safe area, particularly on a Sunday morning with a lot of people in San Telmo. At least you’re okay physically.

  17. Jan on


    I’m sorry to hear about the robbery. I would have given anything to be there. On April 15th around 2:30 p.m. I was robbed in San Telmo at the intersection of Mexico and Peru.

    I was walking with my wife when suddenly a man ran up behind me as if to embrace me. At first I thought it was my wife but when I realized it wasn’t, I quickly checked to see if she was ok before making the decision to fight. First I needed an advantage so I reached into my front pocket for my knife with my right hand. As I was doing this, I felt a lot of tugging on my left hand and before I knew it, the thief was sprinting away with my rolex. I flicked open my knife and chased after him. I knew that I was a lot more powerful than him (and most Argentinians for that matter) and that I would catch him (as did my wife who apparently was begging me in Spanish not to kill him). As a gained on him, a motorcyle suddenly drove from behind and he hopped on the back. Out desperation, I threw the knife and hit him in the back. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the point didn’t stick. I shouted after him immediately cursed at myself for not catching the license plate.

    I spent the next few days replaying the scenario wishing I had done something different but I realize that I did the right thing to protect my wife and myself first. It’s probably good that I didn’t catch the thief as I’d most likely be in jail right now. The best I can do is take away a few lessons.

    First off, it was foolish of me to wear a nice watch in a borderline third world country. Second off, I should have maintained better situational awareness (i.e. periodically looking behind me, checking reflections, remembering faces, checking the eyes and the hands, etc.). Third and finally I should have known more about my environment. As for my choice to fight back aggressively, that’s mine to make and since I’m trained to fight, I have no regrets or apologies.

    I spent the next few days hanging around San Telmo at various hours looking for a fight with a thief. I dressed down in local clothes and studied the area. I talked to numerous people and learned that San Telmo is a bad neighborhood and that the reason it is bad is because there are plenty of semi abandoned houses with squatters and no registered owners. These give thieves numerous rat holes in which to hide. Another thing is that the police are corrupt and inept. Many of them have a relationship with the thieves and the fences for stolen goods where they will turn a blind eye in exchange to a percentage. A cab driver explained that there was a TV documentary on this and that there are numerous shops that specialize in buying and selling stolen goods. One thing about those police, and this is common in Latin America, there is usually a corrupt one who can recover a specific stolen item for the right price.

    I filed a report at the police station in San Telmo while my wife and I offered a reward for my watch to various policemen as they left to go home. I didn’t expect much as they seemed slovenly and lethargic but I figured it was worth a shot if I could find that one corrupt cop that could get my watch back for the right price.

    I will say that this experience ruined my trip and altered my perception of Buenos Aires. I went there on post deployment leave from Iraq hoping to relax and unwind but instead I was at a heightened state of alert all the time, even in the nice places such as La Recoleta or near my Hotel.

    Over the next week and a half, my Argentinian friends showed me the best of the city and wanted to know what my overall impression was. I said that Buenos Aires has potential to be a great and beautiful city once again and that it is a shame to see it’s buildings marred by graffiti and its streets filled with signs of crime and economic instability. I compared it to one of those middle aged female Argentinian singers with peroxide blond hair in that it is desperately trying to look European while hiding the fact that it is crumbling from age. My friend’s mom was on the verge of tears when I said that so I tried to soften the blow by saying that the food and the shopping were amazing.

    Anyway, once again I’m really sorry about what happened. Getting robbed is a horrible experience and it is even worse that the bystanders responded with indifference and cowardice. SHAME ON THEM. If the timing had been different, you might have had a Marine on your side who was actively looking for thieves to fight. I’m sure you did everything you could and you did everything that seemed right to you at the time. As for the thieves, justice has a way of working itself out and I’m sure that whatever stole will not cover the price of what’s coming to them.

  18. Jeff on

    Jan: sorry to hear you also were a victim of what is evidently an increase in crime targeting tourists in San Telmo.

    In defense of San Telmo: I lived there for 3 years and walked those streets all day and night without a problem myself, though I did witness a few incidents. From local news accounts, there seems to be more crime in more prosperous neighborhoods. So be careful everywhere. Remember, this is a large city, not Disney World. :-)

    As a general rule, I never carry more than I’m willing to lose in a robbery. You shouldn’t either. I know that’s not always easy for tourists since the hotel safe might not really be that safe. But do be aware of your surroundings.

    Do not fight back. That’s the best way of getting yourself killed. (Of course, if you’re a trained Marine like Jan then you can make that choice yourself. But if you’re just an average guy, then you’re probably going to be on the losing end to a guy who is ready for a street fight. There have been a number of robberies that resulted in homicides in Buenos Aires due to the person fighting back. So put some thought into whether you’re fit and ready for a street fight and willing to possibly die as a result.)

    And the police here are usually very ineffective, particularly AFTER a robbery. The only need to report the robbery is if you need paperwork for your insurance company. But don’t expect the police to do anything about tracking down the criminals.

    Stay safe, keep your eyes open but don’t be paranoid, just street smart and hope you don’t have bad luck.

  19. Eddwarm on

    I have been traveling to South America since 2002: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, and from the get go was advised NOT to wear expensive watches or jewelery and to dress “down” but nicely.

    I am sorry to hear about the Rolex watches being stolen, but they should NOT have been worn in these cities. Please folks read the websites and blogs and forums before traveling!

  20. Jeff on

    Hi Ed, you’re exactly right. Unfortunately, seems that most people read these things AFTER they’ve been robbed while traveling.

  21. Will on

    Look into the history of Buenos Aires, with its separation between the old latifundistas and the working classes, look around at the city and its separation along class lines between the north and south parts. I personally lived in the Balvanera neighborhood of the south for 6 months. Don’t believe the hype that Buenos Aires is a “safe” city, whatever that means. Anywhere there are such sharp divisions amongst the classes, there will be a lot of crime.

    While I was there, people attempted to rob me during all hours of the day, the methods ranging from simple scams, to grabbing me on the street (San Telmo corner of Peru and Estados Unidos 7:30 P.M.). Someone tried to rob my friend right at our door at 10:30 A.M. while he was still locking it. Pickpockets attempted their skill on me several times, only getting away with it once, luckily.

    What gets me about the perception of crime in Buenos Aires is the fact that when one says it’s high, people tend to think that person is bigoted or racist. I spent very little time with other foreigners while living there, and much of my perception has been shaped by native Porteños’ opinions. Ask any of them if they’ve ever been robbed, and most likely they’ll ask you if it’s a rhetorical question-of course they have been, most several times.

    What surprised me was the utter disparity between the way the travel guides had described it, ridiculously safe, and the way it actually is. If one thinks it’s extremely safe, they’ve probably spent less than a few weeks there in the relatively ritzy neighborhoods in the north (Palermo, Recoleta, Barrio Nuñez, and Belgrano), although those areas have their problems, too.

    However, if one walks the streets around the south of the city often enough, chances are very high that sooner or later, someone is going to try something. Carrying a laptop around in Buenos Aires or sitting with one near an open window or on the sidewalk at a cafe would be insanely stupid.

    Almost every person I’ve known who has gone to that city for a month or longer has been robbed at least once.

    That said, despite all the crime, I love that city and would never tell anybody it should be avoided. The good times far outweigh the dangers. I wouldn’t trade the time I spent in Balvanera, San Telmo, La Boca, Monserrat, and San Cristobal for the ritziest apartment in Recoleta. To me, the south is the Buenos Aires I love.

  22. Jeff on

    Hi Will, thanks for your comment. Good to hear from another fan of the city’s southside. You’re right to caution people about safety in this city.

    Will is right in that this is a large city with great differences in economic situations and people flashing around expensive watches, cameras, etc., are making themselves target. Be aware that most of the crime here is snatch-and-grab or pickpockets.

    After 4 years of living in Buenos Aires I now have been robbed exactly the same number of times as living for 4 years in Norfolk, Virginia: one. (And both here and in Virginia were times based on my own stupidity of carrying my wallet in a place where I knew pickpockets were common. But I am much more cautious in BA than Virginia.)

    I can’t stress enough: stay street smart but no need for paranoia and everyone should be okay unless you have a dose of bad luck. And, well, that’s just life. And don’t fight back unless you want to increase the likelihood of physical harm. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy Buenos Aires.

  23. Jan on

    Don’t be fooled by the fancy buildings. This is a second world city that was once in the first world and is now descending into the third world. In addition to economic ruin, crime is rampant because many of the police there are criminals themselves. For example, a retired Argentinian colonel took me on a night tour of La Recoleta and pointed out several large night clubs that double as brothels. These clubs are run by current and retired members of the police and military and exploit trafficked women from adjacent countries. When the security forces stopped running the government, they started running criminal networks. If you get robbed, chances are, some cop is getting a portion of what was stolen. Crime statistics for Buenos Aires are artificially low because the Kirchner government placed supporters in charge of the statistics agency. If you’re planning to visit there, I would wait until things improve (which may be never) and visit Europe or Uruguay instead. I’ve already talked several friends out of visiting this sad and shabby city.

  24. Jeff on

    Jan….true, that the police force (along with the politicians) here have a reputation for not being particularly honest…that’s especially well known out in Buenos Aires province.

    I think just about everybody knows which of those large nightclubs around Recoleta cemetery are brothels. Of course, most of the clients are foreigners or rich Argentines, so they’re also just as guilty of exploiting women as the people who run the places. Then again, the sex trade isn’t nothing new to Buenos Aires. Go back a hundred years and you’ll learn about the many brothels here that bought in women from Eastern Europe.

    Anyway, I still contend the situation here is not that bleak for a city with millions of people. But it is a city and with that comes a gritty side.

  25. Gretchen on

    I have a question. I will be moving to Cordoba in a few weeks. I will arrive in Buenos Aires on a Saturday morning and was planning on spending the day in Buenos Aires and then taking a bus to Cordoba. My contacts in Cordoba said i could lock up my stuff in a locker at the Retiro Bus station. Do you know if this is safe and reliable? I will be staying for 3 months.. and don’t really want to wander around the city with all of it. Any advice would be helpful

  26. Jeff on

    Hi Gretchen, I don’t have any experience with the lockers at Retiro. It probably is safe, but I don’t know for certain. You definitely don’t want to be wandering around the city with all your stuff. Good luck!

  27. MadPat on

    I just add all my luggage stolen by a taxi driver from Retiro Bus Station in Buenos Aires

    Arriving after an overnight trip from the Andes. Ski gear, huge backpack, etc. Made sure to get on to a taxi from the taxistand at the bus station. I had heard stories last year when I came here last year.

    Cab driver said that my money wasn’t good, that I needed to go to the bank. Did this once, twice…third time, he had disappear with all my luggages. The only I still have is my wallet and passport plus the clothes I am wearing.

    Lost my old camera with rolls of films, all my ski equipment plus my clothes. Report filed at the Police Station, but realistic that nothing is going to come of it.

  28. Livvy on

    Hi all. I was in Buenos Aires for about 3 months in 2006,and lived in San Telmo, it became my second home and I have made many friends there. I fell in love with BA and would go back again. However, I did have a very unpleasant incident there one evening. I was in Bar Gibraltar San Telmo, which is a very safe bar. Security on the door, cameras etc. My friends left, I was just finishing off my drink and chatting at the bar, I was only living less than 1 minutes walk away, a man and women joined our conversation, and can only think that at this point that they drugged my drink! After about 20 minutes started feeling a bit strange, and from thereone after have only hazy memories, but suffice to say, I ended up back at a hotel, unconcious and was robbed of my cash (did not have alot on me) and also they very kindly left me enough for a taxi, sunglasses, camera etc. Awful situation,which left me in a daze for days, bad memory blocks. Police could do nothing, and I was interrogated in case it was some kind of insurance scam!

    But, i dusted myself off, and did not let it get me down. Now I know you are all going to say, You shouldnt leave your drink unattended ( I didnt, but I think I was distracted), It really was a random act. And all the locals and expats said they had never heard of it happening ever in BA, but it does happen in Brazil alot.

    Agree with all the other posts, the Police are not interested one bit, and I get the feeling you really are wasting their time.

    So be careful and vigilant, but BA can bring alot of joy.

  29. Jeff on

    Hi Livvy, thanks for sharing your story. That certainly is an almost worse case scenario. Glad to hear you were not harmed even further. And am particularly glad to hear that you didn’t let it ruin your impression of BA.

  30. Zach on

    Hi, I am 15 and I really want to spend 4 weeks in BA next summer. I will be going with a program called Sol Abroad and living with a host family somewhere downtown BA. I have heard a lot about bad things in BA. But I know there is a way to avoid most of it and I am 100% sure it will be an amazing experience. My spanish is very good. I can communicate with out problems. I’m a guy and i’m not very big, just average 15 yr old teenager size. I plan on listening to what people tell me (especially from this fourm) and taking all precautions that I can. The only thing stopping me from going now is my parents. They are seriously convinced that I will get kidnapped or killed or something tragic like that. I know i’m only 15 and I don’t have a lot of street smarts and stuff but that’s why I want to go! To become more mature and learn things like that.
    What is your opinion on my situation and what should I know? (as far as saftey) What should I tell my parents?

    (and have you heard of Acedemia Buenos Aires? It’s on Calle Hipolito Yrigoyen. Just wondering if you could tell me where it is in relation to like parks and streets. I’m just curious to know where it is.)

    Thanks so much!!

  31. Jeff on

    Hi Zach,

    I’m sure you would be perfectly safe spending the summer in Buenos Aires & studying. The crime here towards foreigners is mostly petty theft, & it’s not that widespread though there has been an increase among all types of crime in Buenos Aires over the past couple of years. (However, I was talking recently to an American from Albany, NY who was adamant that Buenos Aires is SAFER than Albany.) Yet, I still think it’s a very safe place. Of course, as I always advise in any big city: street smarts apply. But, of course, the only way to learn street smarts is to spend some time in a large city. It’s mainly about being aware of your surroundings, not carrying a lot of valuables on you, not walking down dark streets at 3am, & not acting like a tourist, e.g., waving a 2 thousand dollar camera in one hand, wearing a rolex, or a fanny pack embroidered with a USA flag.

    I think that staying with a host family would be a perfect experience for someone your age. Most likely you would meet other foreigners who have come here to study and also young Argentines. When you get to know people here on a personal level, you’ll find that Argentines are very friendly. And they’ll probably help keep an eye out for you. I see 15 year olds, who look smart & educated, hanging out all the time in the city without any problem. (BTW, most Argentine guys – teen or adult – are not very big, either.)

    It’s natural for your parents to be concerned. They’re just being parents & protective. But it would be a great learning & growing experience for you, as you obviously already know. If, for some reason, it doesn’t work out so that you can come down next summer, then I’m sure you’ll be down here at some point in the future. Studying abroad and travel is a great thing for a young person to do.

    Academia Buenos Aires seems like a good program. It’s located just off Plaza de Mayo downtown, a perfectly fine location.

    Good luck!

  32. George on

    I am planning to move to the Villa Crespo area of Buenos, when I arrive what is the best and safest way to get a reliable ride to my apartment and how is the crime in that area?

  33. Jeff on

    Hi George, just take a remis from the airport. Tienda Leon is a good remis service at the airport. You’ll see their counter easily at the terminal.

    Villa Crespo is a really nice area. Crime shouldn’t be much of a problem there, but just use the precautions you would use in any large city. Have a great time & enjoy Buenos Aires!

  34. JANE on

    My son and daughter were robbed in San Telmo christmas eve. They were approached just as they were arriving in front of the apartment building where my daughter is living for the time. The man followed them into the building, had a gun and took money, electronics, cash cards,etc from the apartment. My concern: I want her to move because he knows where she is living and I fear abduction. What do you think?

  35. Jeff on

    @Jane: That’s horrible. If she’s in a short-term rental, then moving might be a very good option that’s not too difficult. A longer-term rental usually makes moving a lot more difficult.

    I think an abduction is unlikely, but one should certainly be cautious after this type of incident.

  36. GUY on

    My friend and I visited the tourist cemetry in Bunes Aires on the 1 january 2010. We went down a side street and on a corner were squirted with some stuff that smelled like hair bleach or peroxide, looked like bird shirt but wasn’t. A man and woman helped us clean it off, obviously distracting us, they were so quick, took our wallets out of our pockets, took out the cash, left the credit cards and put both wallets back in our pockets. At the time I said to my friend check your wallet, I felt mine on my pocket so thought it was ok, but when we got back to the hotel, we opened our wallets to pay the taxi to find all cash missing. They were so good, real actors, they even sprayed themselves with the liquidid to make it look like they were victims too.

  37. Jeff on

    The FAKE BIRD POOP…gotta watch for that…heard it happens a bit around the train station but didn’t know they had expanded to the cemetery. Good to know.

  38. Frankenstein on

    In Jan 2009, my wife and I avoided the bird poop tactic in BsAs only to be robbed later at a store.

    Like another msg above, the police were lethargic and disinterested. Locals told us of rising crime and bad economy.

    We have lived in MAJOR U.S. cities and traveled extensively. I have never felt more unsafe than in BsAs. Almost every tourist we spoke to both in BsAs and in the south was robbed in some way.

    You are all correct: one should exercise caution in any major city. However, in BsAs, caution does not seem like enough. I do not feel at all unsafe in Paris or Rome or Tokyo. Nor do I feel that I have to dress way down in any other major city in the world to enjoy it.

    If these are the restrictions in BsAs and if being a foreigner increases your target chances by 6000%, then I am all for boycotting this once, great city.

    It isn’t worth the effort. Cities should be enjoyed while being yourself, not only if you dress like a flood victim and carry a knife.

  39. David on

    Wow, my wife, 10-year old daughter and I are planning to visit BA and Iguazu in a few weeks. After reading these messages, I wonder if we are making a bad decision to go. There are lots of useful tips on this site – and thank you for those – but my main concern is travelling with a young family (we are all blond haired and blue eyed and do not speak Spanish) that we will stick out – even dressed down. My daughter has travelled with us in many other countries in Europe and has a distracted innocence that we love, but might be problematic in Argentina and Brazil. Would appreciate advice on areas of the city that would be best to find hotels? Almost all the messages on this site tell of bad experiences, but is it really more dangerous than Rome or parts of the States? Thanks for any tips. I would like this to be a nice vacation for my family and a positive education experience for my child. It is great to have this website to learn from the experiences of others. Any tips appreciated. D.

  40. Jeff on

    Hi David:

    There’s certainly no way that Buenos Aires is more dangerous than Rome or parts of the U.S.

    But everybody should be aware that Argentina is a country where a few hundred dollars go a very long way. Many people living in Buenos Aires are trying to survive on less than us$300 a month, which is extremely difficult. Most of the poor are not thieves but hardworking, honest people. But don’t make yourself an easy target for a thief who is highly tempted by your obviously higher economic class.

    As for the danger level of Buenos Aires, as indicated by this site. Let’s put this in perspective: this site has over 8,000 visitors a month & only a few report having experienced a problem with crime in Buenos Aires. So, putting the # of negative comments here in that perspective, along with my own personal experience of living in Buenos Aires for the last 5 years and reading the local newspapers and watching the local news everyday: getting robbed or assaulted as a tourist is not a common occurrence.

    Now, it’s true that there has been an increase in violent crime in Buenos Aires in the last couple of years. But that type of crime almost always happens not to tourists but locals. Still, this is not a war zone where you’re likely to get attacked walking down the street. Then again, Buenos Aires is not Disney World.

    Being blond haired & blue eyed doesn’t make you stand out at all in Buenos Aires. Argentina has had different immigration patterns from other Latin American countries. So it’s not uncommon at all to see Argentines that are blond and blue eyed. Indeed, any Caucasian person can blend into Buenos Aires and not look like a tourist.

    Not speaking Spanish is a bit of problem, but then again I speak English with my wife while walking the streets of Buenos Aires almost everyday for years and we’ve never been robbed or assaulted.

    Try not to dress like tourists: fanny packs, big floppy hats, tee shirts emblazoned with the U.S. flag, a Lonely Planet guidebook in one hand, a huge map in the other hand, an expensive watch on the wrist, and a really expensive camera around your neck. That’s just making yourself a target. Dress normally, like you would at home.

    But it’s usually the starry-eyed gaze, admiring the city, that gives away the tourist. Not much can be done about that, but do watch your surroundings, be aware of where you’re at and who is around you. Thieves look for the easy opportunity, the easy target. Keep a firm hold on all bags and belongings at all time, especially when you into a cafe or restaurant to sit down. It’s easy for someone to steal a bag or purse in a restaurant.

    Do stay away from the edges of the sidewalk, closest to the street. Watch for guys on motorcycles. A lot of thieves are on motorcycles. (But not everyone on a motorcycle is a thief, but as a tourist you never have any need to have close contact with a guy on a motorcycle in Buenos Aires).

    When you go to the ATM: be very careful, do so only during banking hours on weekdays. On Fridays try to get enough pesos to cover the weekend. Watch carefully when you leave the bank, keep your hand in your pocket over your money or wallet until you get back to your hotel or apt.

    Watch carefully for pickpockets.

    Don’t go out of the hotel/apt with anything you’re not prepared to get stolen. For example, I NEVER carry my credit/debit cards with me unless I’m going straight to the ATM and back. I NEVER carry more than a few hundred pesos on me, and usually not that much. Leave everything else back at the hotel safe. Bring a digital camera that isn’t ultra expensive, though do see people using very expensive digital SLRs and they seem to do fine. If fine photography is your hobby, then bring your good camera if you like.

    The best neighborhoods are Recoleta and Palermo. Then again, the thieves also know those are the best neighborhoods. So you still need to be cautious in those areas, too. But those are the areas where I would recommend for a family. And you can safely enjoy the beautiful parks, the zoo, & the museums without any fear of harm.

    Families walk around Buenos Aires everyday without a problem. I think you’ll do fine with due caution. It certainly will be a great experience.

    Iguazu Falls is beautiful and you should not have any problems there.

    Just be careful (but not paranoid) and you’ll have a great time in Buenos Aires & Argentina.

  41. Alex Maxim on

    Hey people … I’ve lived in Bs.As for 5 years . And i’ve got to say that its a beautiful city with a lot of crime , it all depends where you live and what kind of stuff you get up to . From my experience i’ve seen guns knives and all sorts of stuff . So my advise to any1 would be – know the right time and place to be around and dont act hard .

  42. deborah on

    Read all these comments, maybe we are better off spending more time in Mendoza and skipping BA – thoughts?

  43. Jeff on

    Hi Deborah, Mendoza is a great place & certainly deserves a lot of time itself. But so BA. Don’t be scared away from Buenos Aires by the negative comments. Remember, thousands of English speaking tourists travel through Buenos Aires every month and only a very small fraction ever encounter a problem with crime.

  44. nev on

    i have been in BA 2 months. after 2 weeks i was in a cafe when it was held up by gunmen.for some reason they did not take my wallet but they did take others.
    that freaked me out a bit.the main thing is to stay calm.
    there definitely is an edge to the city.know where you’re going and be cool.
    the problem is negativity attracts negativity.when i told my story i heard more horror stories.
    there is alot of poverty and alot of addiction.
    but it is a beautiful city with wonderful people who have experienced alot of bad times.there are so many good things here. i feel safer than i would in many cities in UK, especially on a Saturday night.the peoplle here go out to have fun , in the uk,Sat night in town is a warzone due to drinking can sit out and eat and drink into the early hours in BA and as long as you’re not bling you’ll be good. enjoy argentina

  45. David on

    Hi Jeff, I posted a message on Jan. 16th expressing concerns about visiting Buenos Aires. Well we just returned from our vacation, and thought that it might be useful to provide a bit of feedback for others who may be planning a visit.

    We spent 5 days in Buenos Aires and stayed in Boedo. We chose Boedo because of the positive reviews of a hotel there. Boedo seems like a working class neighbourhood. Not affluent and not impoverished. It certainly does not have the affluence of Palermo or Recoleta but we felt quite safe while we were there. My 11 year old daughter and I even ventured out to a street festival one evening and again felt very safe. Of course I took the precautions that I would in any big city or any crowded area – kept my hands on my wallet, didn’t have much cash, and remained mindful of what was going on around us.

    We travelled by underground (Subte) everywhere we went and it was often very crowded. Again, we just remained aware of who was around us.

    This was all I did on Florida St. and San Telmo market on the Sunday as well. I expect there are pickpocketing and other similar incidents, but these are crimes of opportunity. Be vigilant as you would on the busy sidewalks of Times Square, the Vaci utca in Budapest, the grand bazar in Istanbul and you remove or at least decrease the opportunity.

    I had originally been worried because of all the posts online about street crime, and while it is a big and crowded city, I found that all we needed was the same savvy and vigilance we use anywhere else.

    We felt very safe in San Juan and quite safe in Mendoza too (although we only went to a street night market in Mendoza).
    So by heeding the advice that is readily available on this site and others, I think you can, as we did, have a very enjoyable visit to this vibrant and beautiful city.

    I hope that is useful to others in the trip planning process.

    As a post script, because many of the tourists we met were in both Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, I would like to add that I had the impression that the tourist security issue was even more dire in Rio. We spent 5 days in Copacabana and had no bother at all. We spent days on the beaches (Copacabana and Ipanema and Leblon) and we strolled around Copacabana in the evenings and I felt very safe. Again, be vigilant, but I think that maybe there are efforts to improve Rio’s reputation, because we certainly felt safe and found the people friendly and respectful. At least in the areas we visited.

    Thanks for the opportunity to provide some positive feedback on Buenos Aires, and I hope others have as great a time there as my family and I did. Cheers, David

  46. Jeff on

    @Nev: A gunman in a cafe, that’s unusual. But glad it turned out safe. As you said, Buenos Aires does have an edge but that’s part of its beauty. Glad to hear you enjoyed the city & thanks for your comparison to some unsafe aspects of UK cities.

    @David, thanks for sharing your safe experiences in Buenos Aires. I’m pleased to hear you chose Boedo as the neighborhood to stay. It’s one of my favorite barrios. More visitors should give it a try.

  47. Chris on

    Recently in Buenos Aires in january and stayed at hotels in Palermo for the first 10 days and for the next 10 days in San Telmo. Never had any problems but a couple we were with said they’d lost 500 pesos they’d just drawn from a bank due to pickpockets.

    There are lots of horror stories around and the taxis always lock their cab doors when going through certain districts. Taxi drivers are very frequently robbed at gunpoint, one was telling me he picked up a woman with babe in arms which wasn’t a babe but an automatic handgun! Robbed him and run off.

    few words of advice to anyone going to BA, wherever you go USE RADIO TAXIS. They are marked up as such in yellow writing on black and are the safest means of transport in the city and they are cheap.

  48. jc on

    I am a 30 yr old, blonde, female American and have lived in Buenos Aires for just under a year. I have never been robbed. That is not because there is no street crime in BA. I have been approached on a few occasions, but if it feels sketchy I risk being rude and just say nothing and keep walking. A while back when I was walking on Av Santa Fe I saw a kid sitting down asking people for money and I felt like something was off, plus he didn’t really look needy, so when I got closer and he asked me for change I ignored him. 5 seconds later he and 2 friends robbed someone walking right behind me. I have witnessed 4 robberies since I have been here. Every single incident it was a group teenagers.

    Jeff has very good advise, and I have lived under some of the same basic rules when walking around the streets of BsAs. I never wear anything overtly expensive. I do not carry any cards with me unless I am going to the bank. And when I do go to the bank I return home immediately and leave my card and whatever cash I don’t need. I very rarely carry a purse. Any cash I do bring with me I put in a little change purse or directly in my pocket. As a result I feel liberated and more confident. If I don’t have much to lose I am not constantly worrying about getting robbed.

    Another rule I have is not to hail taxis off the street at night, especially if I am alone. There are several respected radio taxi companies and people who work in hotel front desks can call for you.

    I have a couple of comments in regards to responses from others and general safety. Since I have been in BA I have had several of my local friends tell me stories of being robbed. The majority of the stories take place when walking alone in empty streets, just like in any other city. Also, I saw the two comments about incidents on calle Mexico in San Telmo. I moved to Peru and Mexico about 3 weeks ago and I felt uncomfortable the very first time I walked even a block on Mexico. There are very few businesses and many of the abandoned houses Jeff was referring too. I do like a verduleria on Mexico and Chocabuco but when I do go there I walk all the way around to the next street so that I don’t have to walk the one block on Mexico. The point is, listen to your gut feeling. If a street or a place or a person looks sketchy, avoid it.

    All of that said, Buenos Aires is very special city with a beauty and energy different from any other I have known. If you are a traveler and are interested in new experiences, this city does not disappoint.

  49. Jeff on

    @Chris: Thanks for your comment & stressing the use of radio taxis.

    @JC: Thanks for the perspective of a woman living in Buenos Aires. You’re definitely practicing street smarts. Lots of good insights in your comments. I like what you said about not carrying valuables with you: “If I don’t have much to lose I am not constantly worrying about getting robbed.”

  50. Benedikte on

    I just returned from Buenos Aire the 29th of April 2010.
    I had this happen to me: Has hired a private taxi to come and pick me up at 4 o’clock to drive me to the airport. The taxidriver was late. I stood on a street in an area close to SOHO and in front of the apartment building where I had been living. I had two suitcases and one heavy bagpack. I looked for the taxi driver. A man came up to me and asked me if I needed a hotel. I said No and while I said No to him another man took my bagpack with passport, green card, money, credit card, ID’s,airplane ticket, computer etc… I did not run after the person because I still had two big suitcases filled with instruments. So I yelled and nobody helped me out. I managed to stop a person and ask the person to call the police for me. They did not want to come – I was told to go there. So I had to stay in Bunos Aires for many days exyra to get papers of transportation to get back to USA and get a passport from the Danish Embassy. I learned this: Stay inside the building until the taxi comes. Keep all important papers and money in your pants’ pockets – not in bags separate from you. Do not count on people bing helpful and the police is not going to help you either. It can take many days to get a passport and a letter of transportantion if you loose both passport and green card – you are most vulnerable when you are coming from airport or leaving to airport. Feel free to email me about this.

  51. Jeff on

    Benedikte, So sorry that happened to you. But your experience provides excellent advice:

    When waiting for a remise (car service/private taxi) wait INSIDE your apartment building. ALL remise drivers in Buenos aires are accustomed to ringing the door bell & asking for the person who called.

    If you wait out on the street with all your luggage then you run a chance of a very bad experience like Benedikte.

  52. sherri mueller on

    Ive been flying w/ united 20 years as a flt attendant…never have i been picked….well actually was my first. 2-3 million people doing the 200 year celebrations on tues night near the obelisk someone grabbed my iphone. didnt realize it was gone until 30 minutes later. :(
    and then hear from a couple from australia who just entered hotel lobby, that she got her gold necklace swiped on florida steet. :(


    i want to wear a sign… “BEWARE!!! PICKPOCKETS & LOOSE WOMEN” OR CARRY A GUN.

  54. David Hong on

    My wife and I were in Puerto Madero, crossing the rather large highway to reach the restaurants on the other side of the river when someone on a bike rode up beside us and said “excuse me”. At that moment, my wife looked at my back and saw that I had been sprayed with some kinda dark mustard like substance. The guy got off the bike to ask if we spoke spanish. We said we didn’t speak too much. Then my wife looked down at her bag and back and found that she too had been sprayed!

    The guy on the bike suddenly turned around and approached an Argentinian couple and spoke to them in Spanish. They were a bit angry at him and then darted off and got into a cab across the street.

    He turned to us to tell us about the bird poop scam and how we need to be careful. An angel in the midst of Buenos Aires!

    He pointed to the would-be thieves as they got into their cab (quite likely also in on the scheme). He seemed really concerned for us and made sure we were okay before heading off.

    After reading everyone’s stories, I see that it is a common incident that tourists get jacked in a beautiful city like this.. but there is good too and we were really blessed to have been protected by one of the locals. What a great guy.

    Needless to say, I wanted to bust up the couple who had tried to steal our stuff but after reading this forum, I realize it was better that I didn’t chase them down.

    I’m leaving Bs.As. tomorrow night so we’ll be vigilant til then.

  55. Stuart on

    I was robbed of a Rolex in January 2010 at the intersection of Florida and Juan Peron. The mugger got away on the back of a motorcycle. The police could not care less. I made a report with the help of a gentleman who spoke sufficient English.

  56. Jeff on

    @Stuart: Wearing a Rolex in a city where the average income is less than 500 dollars a month is like wearing a sign that says “Rob me!” Sorry you learned the hard way.

    Think about where you are at. Florida street is especially well known for pickpockets and opportunity thieves. Everybody should be particularly observant of valuables when walking on Florida street.

    Be particularly careful of the motorcycle thieves. There is an increasing number of thieves on motorcycles.

    The bird poop scam is also particularly common in the downtown area. Just keep walking away if someone tells you that there is bird poop on your back.

    Be careful out there people. Don’t make yourself a target and you’ll have a safe & great experience in Buenos Aires.

  57. jay on

    I just returned from BA. I read a lot about crime and safety before I arrived. It kind of scared me a bit but I really did just what i do in any large city. I dressed urban, didnt stand out like a tourist (very important)- no cameras hanging, didnt carry any bags etc. Tried to get radio taxis as often as possible. No jewelery worn. Left most cash and wallet at hotel. Just carried some pesos and one credit card. We never felt unsafe in BA, not once. In fact, one taxi drivers meter went off half way back to our hotel. I looked at my partner and said, oh here we go (scam) I knew the fare would be about 25 pesos and gave him it, he handed me back 10 pesos, saying i gave him too much. A lady did that to me in a shop too, handing me back 5 pesos. We walked around all day and many nights in several neighborhoods (most at night in Pallermo and Almagro) Loved San Telmo, my favorite part of town but was not there at night. Loved Bs As, and will go back one day.

  58. Steve on

    I have been on vacation with my wife for three weeks in Buenos Aires. We both loved everything Argentina had to offer and the people are extremely nice. Though, while we were here we came across several incidents where women were robbed in the streets. I am a very large man, 6’5″ 270 lbs. I do not wear or flaunt any jewerly. The only thing I wear is a leather band Tommy Bahama watch. In my opinion I am not worth the effort to try and steal a watch that isn’t worth no more than a few hundred dollars. I am usually very observant and careful being brought up in NYC, but today I was playing tourist and taking photos in one of the most expensive areas of Buenos Aires. I was waiting to cross the street when I felt a bump from behind and felt the leather band of my watch snap. I looked and sure enough the watch was gone, I turned around and saw an average looking man in his early thirties pocketing my watch trying to look innocent about five or 6 feet behind me. I made eye contact and yelled at him and he ran. I ran after him and chased him about half a block, then a motorcycle came and he hopped on and was gone. Store owners witnessed the event and called the police. I have to say that I was very impressed that they arrived within two minutes and had stopped several susspects on motorcycles for us to look at. Unfortunately none of them were thieves. My point being to always be aware of who is around you and that you cannot show anything, even a watch and don’t think you are too big for anyone to mess with. Like I stated, I am 6’5″ 270 lbs and the thief must have been 5’7″ or 5’8″. I was told later that many times there is a third person and the thieves usually carry a knife and that I am lucky I did not get stabbed while trying to chase one of them.

  59. Jeff on

    @Jay: glad to hear you had a good experience in BA.

    @Steve: you raised a good point…the thieves here are quite fast. I’ve also heard that many will carry knives for poking anyone who tries to stop them. Best not to get into a confrontation if being robbed.

  60. Steve on

    Look, the thing is, it is certainly true that Buenos Aires is far from the safest place in the world. The Buenos Aires of 30 or 40 years ago was not terribly safe, but today, the reality is, it is probably not much safer than big cities in Colombia, Venezuela, or Brasil. The only difference would be the amount of murders, but in terms of common crime, it is tremendously awful. I was only robbed once at knife point in 2009 in Palermo, late at night, walking by myself. This is in spite of the fact that I lived in the Province of Buenos Aires, including quite a long time in La Matanza. I walked through the Villas de Miseria, went inside of the Monoblock, and would walk literally dozens of miles a week through every part of the city, even through awful areas like Ingeniero Budge and Villa Fiorito. This, I believe, accompanied by the fact that I am tall and blond, shows that one can safely live in the city with the right precautions. The thing is, I speak Spanish with an entirely Argentine accent, and know the city extremely well, and tend to walk very fast and just simply run if I feel in danger. This probably saved me a half a dozen more robberies when people seemed to be following me or threatening me.
    This being said, I think it is probably worth noting that outside of some very marginal areas, the worst part of town to be in at night, or for that matter, at any time of day, is probably downtown. Downtown at night is terrifying, especially Calle Florida and la 9 de Julio. There is really no reason to be out at night, especially not alone. I can say from experience that walking through probably half of the city at any time of day is quite a risk. Taking the trains can also be a bit unsafe. I personally have never had problems despite the horrific crowding and terrible service, but I would imagine that on many lines, especially those that go to the southern part of the city (La Linea General Roca stands out as by far the worst) could be quite rough.
    In general, I love Buenos Aires, and Argentina in general, but there is no question that Buenos Aires is truly one of the worst cities in Latin America in terms of common crime, meaning absolutely everything except murder. Cars are even now stopped on the HIGHWAY and robbed at gunpoint in the wrong areas (Autopista Illia, Camino del Buen Ayre, Autopista Buenos Aires – La Plata)
    I do not know a single Argentine, out of literally probably thousands, who has not been the victim of some sort of violent crime. That being said, Buenos Aires can be OK, just with common sense precautions, and RUNNING when the wrong people approach, not resisting at all. Especially watch out for children, who probably commit the majority of crimes in the city today.

  61. Jeff on

    @Steve, Thanks for your comment. I agree with you about downtown at night, especially those empty side streets, which can be frightening since there’s hardly anyone around and a lot of dark corners.

    Good advice about running & not resisting. And watching out for children.

  62. Marek on

    I was in Buenos Aires 2 weeks ago and unfortunately I was robbed during my first day after just a few hours. I was walking apparently through one of the turistical places. Everything was taken from my pockets, also they took my clothes, bag, a book, actually everything excluding my passport, because I told them do not take my passoprt. Before I have heard that B.Aires is safe city, but I spoke with a few local people at the police station, and they claim that unfortunately even for them this city seems dangerous. Also the police is not helpful at all. In genral S.America comparing with other continents is very dangerous and I would say much less intersting.

  63. simcut on


    South America is much less interesting than other continents? Well why did you go then? There is LOTS of interest and diversity in landscapes in South America, from a scenic point of view it is by far one of the most interesting continents in the world.

  64. Vicky on

    My parents, husband and I just returned from Argentina and had three incidents of thievery within a week. First, my husband’s ATM card was stolen from an ATM at the EZE airport. This was certainly my husband’s fault for not being sure to retrieve the card when he was done. He didn’t notice the card was missing until the end of the week. We were honestly surprised that the damage wasn’t greater: two non-authorized withdrawals totalling about US$300, and two smallish purchase ($28 at a Wal Mart, and about $70 at a gas station). Another incident occurred when my husband packed his computer cables and chargers in a zippered pack and put it an outside pocket of our carryon to be stored at our hotel’s bell desk on our last day in BA before our flight home. Only at the airport did he discover that the cables were missing (probably an by someone with sticky fingers at the hotel). The worst and most upsetting incident occurred on our last day in BA, when we were hit by what appeared to be bird poop. Two people immediately came to our “aid,” proffering water and tissues. I thought it was very odd, but didn’t notice anything amiss – besides, they were so FRIENDLY. A few hours later when my 71 year old father went to pay the bill for our lunch, he discovered that his two credit cards were missing from his wallet. It was a very sly maneuver. The damage was about $1,000 and some dry cleaning bills. We were all glad it was non-violent. But it was still upsetting. My advice would be to turn away whenever anyone comes up offering to GIVE you something. Better to appear rude and be safe than to be victims like we were.

  65. SFdude on

    The elderly Danish parents of a good friend of mine,
    visited Buenos Aires, recently.

    After buying stuff at a reputable store in a good area at noon, they asked if the store could call them a “radio-taxi”. The taxi arrived promptly.

    After a few minutes into the trip, the taxi stopped and the driver told them to “- Get out, get out of the car!!”.

    They did, taxi took off and a guy in a motorcycle arrived. Robbed the elderly couple at gunpoint.

    End of story.

    Buenos Aires used to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, to visit or live in.
    That was 30-40 years ago…Not anymore.

    So, spend your hard-earned tourist money and free time, in cities which enforce public security and safety.

    Unfortunately, this is not one of them anymore…

  66. Louise on


    I have been offered the opportunity to work in Santander in Argentina and Brazil next year. At the minute I am considering it but after reading a good few of those comments ^^^ about getting robbed etc, I’m not so sure if it’s a good idea or not? Any comments would be appreciated, help me make up my mind! Cheers :)

  67. Jeff on

    @Louise: I still don’t think Buenos Aires is all that dangerous. True that there is crime. But there are also plenty of people who go about their lives everyday in BA without ever being robbed. It’s a big city and there is definitely an edge to it, so you do have to be cautious. But it’s also an exciting city with a lot to offer in terms of charming surroundings, an incredible cultural life, and interesting people. If it’s a good job then you’ll enjoy living in Buenos Aires. Good luck!

  68. Louise on


    I suppose there’s crime everywhere really, no matter where you go. It’s just I don’t want to go to Buenos Aires to find out that I’m living in a ‘dangerous’ country :S Are there any areas that you would recommend that I avoid when I’m over there?? Thanks!

  69. Jeff on

    Hi Louise,

    I guess “dangerous” is a relative term.:-)

    While there is a lot of theft (pickpockets, stolen handbags, stolen cameras, scams, etc.), the amount of random violent crime (rape, murder, stabbings, shootings) is significantly lower than, say, in the U.S. (But I would say that the amount of theft in Argentina is higher than in the U.S.)

    The problem is that in Buenos Aires is theft is more likely to happen in the nicer areas where people have more money & tourists congregate. If you come to Buenos Aires then it’s likely at some point that you will have something stolen from you, though it’s extremely unlikely that the incident will be a violent encounter. It’s a lot to weigh – the pros & cons.

    I must admit that after many years I’m so accustomed to the potential of theft in Buenos Aires that my mindset is not shocked by it. (Though after many years the only crime I’ve experienced here against me is one stolen wallet & that was largely my fault for being in an intensely massive crowd and unaware of my belongings.) You definitely will need to equip yourself with some street smarts to handle Buenos Aires. With the right attitude (that theft is abundant & you need to watch out for it) then Buenos Aires is a great place. But unprepared it can throw up some unpleasant surprises.

  70. Louise on

    @ Jeff

    Thanks very much for all your information and advice- it will come in very useful. I’m just glad I’m reading all these comments and the tips before I go and not after I’ve been. I think the area I’ll be working in has a university and is quite studenty so hopefully I shouldn’t have too many encounters with theives. I have no idea what the accommodation is going to be like or which precise area I’m staying in (when I get the details etc I’ll get back to you because obviously you know what your talking about and i would definitely appreciate all the help and advice I can get!)

  71. Jeff on

    @Louise: You’re welcome. Let me know when you find out the area where you’ll be working & living and I’ll offer some specific advice for those areas. Best!

  72. David on

    Robberies are the most popular sport and way to get easy money in Buenos Aires Capital City. The robbery at Banco Provincia is just part of daily life here, and of course the city government turns a blind eye on everybody and spends public funds on new park benches, tourist attractions and the like, Here’s some video footage from a robbery at my candy store that took place back in July 2010. Nice and quick and well planned as you can see, after reporting it to the police and almost every other store on our block being held up at gunpoint, of course we still NEVER see a police officer around here. The mayor, Mauricio Macri, just had a lovely wedding and loves to blame the president for everything that happens in the country, however he is the one in charge of the police, but of course does nothing to protect the people”¦”¦.NOW YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON IN BUENOS AIRES, CAPITAL FEDERAL!!

  73. Bossano on

    I have been in Buenos Aires for almost two months now and staying here for another five to study. I have not once experienced anything even remotely threatening or seen others in trouble. And, being a blue eyed danish guy speaking very little spanish, i do stand out as a tourist. Neither have i heard about much more than one or two bad experinces from others.

    I have however experienced plenty of hospitality, great nights out and a overwhelming welcoming attitude from the vast majority of porteños. It’s a big city, so take your precautions like you would in any other, but for me, so far Buenos Aires has been a wonderful city to live in and i would highly recommend it for anyone.

  74. Meeks on

    Our 2 day packs with EVERYTHING in them got stolen from next to us in our hostel lobby, while checking in at 2pm…! the hostel has a security guard, security door and video cameras, but alas no. I HATE BUENOS AIRES!

  75. NE on

    Living in Bs As for 1 year, being a typical Dutch man, tall and blond. I would advise people to use street-smarts to avoid trouble, but of course some just might have bad luck like some locals also can be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Try not to stand out too much or flash any wealth, always act confident and be aware of your surroundings.
    All Dutch friends who have visited me had a great time in this city, without any trouble.

  76. amber on

    i have been to argentina 3 times in past 2 years – loved each moment of it.

    i met my boyfriend online and after 6 months i decided it was time for us to meet (we didnt date until we met officially). i visited buenos aries for the first time alone – as a 27 year old white female with yes… blond hair…

    i am a researcher… and i have lived in the city of philadelphia so i have an idea of street crime and muggings. i have never been mugged but i am aware.

    i urge people to leave their rolex watches at home… i am actually REALLY surprised people brought their watches…and then were shocked when they were stolen.

    i have never had a problem on calle florida… or plaza de san martin…

    keep an eye out in the train – dont stand next to the doors – its easiar for people to grab your bag and run out the door with it. watch for people with knives trying to cut your bag open to get the contents. in some instances your voice gives you away so don.t talk.

    my boyfriends family lives in san fernando about 2 hours outside of capital federal and works in the san telmo area. he’s got lots of stories.

    be wise – watch out – and leave your rolex watches at home! i was honestly surprised at the naievety of some people. and PLEASE dont go chasing after the thieves… thats common sense for city living here in the usa… let alone argentina.

    oh yeah – and try kentucky pizza in palermo.

    i have never had a problem – but my guide – my boyfriend is so wonderful at spotting any possible threats. and he aptly avoids them

  77. amber on

    oh yes – and things that we consider “no big deal” like the guy with the tommy bahama watch – really are big deals in argentina. the resale value for such items is often DOUBLE what we pay in the usa. there is no need. you know how much an iphone costs in argentina? $1000 usd.
    por ejemplo – this womans watch in the usa averages about $60…

    but in argentina the same watch averages about $230….

    just be careful and be aware

  78. Jeff on

    Good insights on safety in the last few comments.

    @Meeks: sorry about such a bad experience. That sucks. But it brings up a good point that it’s important to watch your luggage even in the hotel lobby. I’ve heard of baggage getting ripped off more than once that way.

    And thanks to those who express their positive experiences about Buenos Aires.

    @Amber gives good tips about the train/subway/bus: not standing too close to the door…be mindful of someone standing too close…they might be using a small knife to cut into your purse to steal your wallet…amazing how often that happens. And she’s right that many products, like iPhones, are much more expensive here than in the U.S.

    And good tip about trying Kentucky Pizza in Palermo!

    As @NE says, street smarts really help but sometimes you just have the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    But, please, keep those Rolexes at home people.

  79. Mikhail on

    In my first week in BA I was mugged by two or three people at 7 pm on a busy street. I had just parted ways with two other American friends near Plaza del Congreso on Callao to take the bus home. One guy approaches me asking for money, and I try to ignore him, He then made a cutting-throat motion saying he had a knife and I moved towards the street near other people waiting for the bus to attract attention. He and some other guy went through my pockets but just ended up taking a crap rental phone and about 80 pesos, my US driver’s license, university IDs and two credit cards (which weren’t even used afterwards). Luckily for me they skipped over my $100 digital camera (which would have just been inconvenient for me). Most of the stuff I lost could easily be replaced.

    So the entire experience was good for this reason: just afterwards, a very nice woman who witnessed this helped me get home, paying for the bus, and paying for the international call to cancel my credit cards. She brought me to the police station to file a report (even if its useless). She even offered to lend me $300 pesos since I had no money! She also arrived late for a movie that she was on her way to see.

    For this reason, I do not think BA is a bad place, it has its thieves and criminals, but it also has some of the kindest and most generous people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

  80. Mare on

    I am a flight attendant with a major US airline. I have traveled the world for many years including India, other parts of So. America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. My trip to Buenos Aires was the worst travel experience of my life. Two years ago my husband and I were on a short vacation to Buenos Aires, we were staying in the Ricoletta area of the city. We left the hotel on a Friday night about 6:00pm for an early dinner. It was light outside, there were lots of people on the streets going home from work, etc. We walked about two blocks from the hotel when a young guy ran up from behind us, grabbed my arm to rob me. My husband saw what was going on and punched the robber in the face. Before the robber let go of me he threw me to the ground. My head hit the concrete and I was knocked out. I was taken to a filthy hospital where I was given next to no treatment – I suffered a serious cut on the back of my head and a serious concussion. I was out cold on the ground for about 10 minutes they tell me. The doctor wiped the wound with a piece of gauze and that was all. I was vomiting blood, but yet the doctor never checked my vitals, never checked my pupils, never told me to stay awake after a head injury, etc. My husband insisted I be given a CAT scan or MRI – I got two X-rays instead and was sent back onto the street. We went back to the hotel where I spent the next day throwing up blood and having blood ooze from my nose (all signs of SERIOUS head injury). On Sunday I was a bit better and felt I would be able to travel. I knew I needed to get home to my own doctor. We made arrangements to fly home that afternoon. My husband and I went outside of the hotel while we were waiting for our ride to the airport and this time TWO men jumped us from behind and robbed us. The hotel bellman did nothing. He watched the whole thing happen. Got home to my own doctor and was told I had bleeding on the brain, in my ears, etc. I am truly lucky to be alive after that incident. I will never set foot into that country again. No one cares – the police who were called twice, the doctors who barely treated me and the hotel staff who just stood by and watched a crime happen. I know two other people who have HAD to go there on business, they had no choice and BOTH of them were robbed. Not in such a violent way, but robbed none the less. I try to warn as many people as I can about this country and the problems with crime. Hopefully someone will listen. It is not that nice of a city in the first place to take your life in your hands to go there. It just is not worth it.

  81. Jeff on

    @Mare: That was a truly awful experience you suffered. No wonder you wouldn’t want to come back to BA. (Honestly, I wouldn’t either if I had that experience.) Glad to hear you survived.

    @Mikhail: good to hear you met some helpful people despite a bad episode.

  82. Leticia on

    Dear fellow travelers, ex-pats..

    I work for Zig Zag Productions, a London based television company. We’re currently in production on a series of documentaries for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.

    The aim of this series is to look at the scams that occur in cities around the globe that are aimed at tourists. We want to provide an informative travel show that emphasizes each city as a travel destination but at the same time aims to make tourists aware of popular scams like the ones mentioned here.

    If you have been a victim and would like to share your experience, contact me, also informing where you are based:

    Many thanks!

  83. Anna Maria Elisa on

    I’ve traveled quite a bit (been to over 18 countries in 20 years) and this site has made me more apprehensive than usual about a destination.

    I’ve been to the jungles on foot in Peten, Guatemala, in the streets of Tijuana, Mexico, and downtown Tondo, Manila by night and day. Thru the souks of Marrakesh and isolated deserts near the Algerian border, and the sleazier side of Paris (Montmarte) at night – and never had a problem.

    Pickpocketing and scams are one thing, but armed robbery without police intervention is another.

    What a shame that such a culturally-rich country has gone to pot. You sold me. I’m not going.

  84. Jeff on

    @Anna Maria: You’ll be missing out on a great city. Despite the problems some people have in Buenos Aires, I’m still experiencing no problems with crime. In fact, every day & night I walk my 1 year-old baby on the streets of Buenos Aires and encounter absolutely no problem. Just remember that thousands of people visit Buenos Aires every year without a bad experience. You do have to be cautious in Buenos Aires but that shouldn’t prevent any experienced international traveler from a visit.

  85. 777 Fly Boy on

    I’m an international airline pilot and fly to BA on a very regular basis from the United States. Let me preface this by saying that I love BA. It has a vibe to it that I don’t find in any other of my destinations whether it be in Europe or Asia. I love it to the point that I once considered retiring here. The crime here hasn’t exploded as much as it has escalated over the years. To the point that I no longer consider BA a retirement destination. If money is unlimited ( which it seldom is for most people), then you can afford to live here. You’ll need the extra money for security. How sad! I was in the memorial park the day before the tragic killing of the Paris Geologist. While many posts here say that ‘a camera is not worth your life’ the point cannot be missed by people in my situation regarding a place to retire that is, do you really want to live in a city where you have to make a choice on a regular basis on what to ‘give up’ in order to live? I don’t fault the people of Argentina per se for the destruction of their incredibly beautiful country, BUT the people of Argentina are the very ones that have elected and voted for the very laws and entitlements that have destroyed their economy caused Argentina to become a dangerous place to live/visit. Look at your history Argentina. Look at what you were in the late 1800s to what you’ve become today. I still love you Argentina, I’m just too afraid to invest in you.

  86. don veridico on

    Les recomiendo a todos que no vengan a Buenos Aires porque da temor la inseguridad y la impunidad que hay, pondran en riesgo sus vidas, aca ya no existen codigos, si son asaltados seguramente seran lastimados, por un precio similar se puede ir a Rio de Janeiro que bastante mas seguro en este momento

  87. clw on

    Well, we are sitting here in BA in our hotel in shock. We live in London and have travelled extensively, including africa and other areas of south america considered unsafe. We arrived in BA yesterday and today, whilst accompanied by our guide and driver, my husband was attacked from behind by 2 guys who were assisted by 2 accomplices on motorbikes and his watch was ripped from his wrist. It was 3pm in a busy street in the Florida street area where we were being shown a church by our guide.We had taken great care to dress down, had no bags, cameras etc and my husband’s watch was hidden by his sweater. We were both wearing v casual clothes. We have lived in major cities with crime problems but NEVER have we experienced anything like this. BA is a fabulous city but we won’t be back and this evening, the last before we travel onwards, instead of being out and about, we are in our hotel room licking our wounds. And we live in London……..

  88. dan on

    If you wanta brief explanation of crimes in argentina, watch the movie NINE QUEENS. Other modes they do not tell you are:
    Cuttiing the underside of your backpack(locals carry bacpacks in the front on buses, trains, subway…)
    Carry a crappy watch, no jewelry,
    Best advice, carry a pocket camera, no backpack if you dont need( carry a jacket in your hand)
    Hope this helps. Sorry about the caps.

  89. dan on

    Medical emergencies, dial 911.(like in the us for all emergencies).
    Ambulance and hospitals are public. You can ask to be taken to a private hospital. Ambulances are good, public hospitals, so so. Get travel health insurance. Contact your consulate in an emergency.

  90. dan on

    The problem in argentina is that no one wants to go through the hassle of reporting crimes, wether in progress or after the fact.

  91. dan on

    Autodromo is the worst area around, unless you go to an event there during the day and transpported there by remise. Living in that area, you are insane.

  92. Robert on

    Today I was robbed in the middle of the day in San Telmo. Granted, I should have known better. I am 6-2 200 lbs and not an easy target. I was wearing a Rolex explorer….my bad. 6 guys – 3 on foot and 3 on motos came up. One put me in a chokehold from behind. I struggled as I was not sure if I had slighted someone or they were police or something. The one who grabbed me got a dose of hitting the sidewalk hard, one got a punch in the jaw, and the other felt a good kick. I didn’t think it possible to get robbed in the middle of the day in BA. Thye only got my watch – not my iphone or wallet. Thats only because i fought back and my friends raised a lot of noise. Now I know it is totally possible. The moral of the story? Don’t wear watches, carry expensive stuff, or underestimate brazen criminals. They exist and they’re watching your every move.

  93. paul on

    Friend and I were robbed at knife point on day 2. Never has happened before in any travels. Never before have I felt so unsafe. Luckily i had nothing with me other than small change. And luckily Im alive. This was done late at night. 1 block from hotel. So perhaps one should not be out after dark. Though there seems to be plenty of daytime activity. Kind of limiting. I just want to go home.
    How can anyone visit a city like this?

  94. Greg on

    I was pickpocketed today on the BA subway. It was really crowded and I was standing squeezed up against lots of people. The guy wore a satchel bag which kind of hung around waist height, and he used it to kind of hide his hand that was doing the dodgy.

    I actually had a very slight sensation that something dodgy was happening and just as I was about to move my hand to my pocket to check on things, a guy nearby on the train literally vommitted. In the ensuing flight to move from the vomiter, the guy must have completed his wallet grab from my front jeans pocket. The train stopped and the vomiter got off. The train started again. About 30 sec later I realised my wallet was gone, I looked for the guy who had been standing right next to me and he was nowhere to be seen, obviously he had gotten off amidst the commotion of the exiting vomiter! Whether the two guys were working together or the thief just took his opportunity I’m not sure, but it was pretty brazen, and skilful given I often struggle to take things out of my own pocket!

    I lost 3 cards and a drivers license, luckily I had no cash in the wallet. As soon as possible I called and cancelled all the cards, luckily I had another locked away in the hotel. I didn’t file a police report because I didn’t think it would achieve anything, reading these posts confirms as much.

    I’m kind of glad I’m not the only one who googles this stuff after an incident. I must say, there does seem to be a real lack of police presence here in B.A., especially compared to Chile where I was before here. At least in Chile you know the police are not corrupt.

  95. Tim on

    I was on business form London, staying in Puerto Madero – very nice area – and went on an trip to Hurlingham last Saturday. I took the San Martin line from Retiro train station. On the way back I was captivated by the “Villa 31” shanty town next to the tracks at Retiro.

    I got off the train and wondered deep into Villa 31 – not knowing it was the most dangerous area in the whole of Argentina!!

    It wasn’t long until some teenage boys started tagging behind me and asking me questions in spanish. I don’t know much spanish so decided to ignore them and look for turning to get out of the place (was approaching the fly-over part by now and didn’t want to do a full ‘180’ in front of the teenagers…)

    I found a junction in the narrow streets and managed to take some turnings to get me on track for an exit. When I thought I was getting near to safety a guy on a bicycle blocked my path. When I attempted to get around him he grabbed me and about 4 people in total started grabbing my stuff (wallet, phone, headphones, back-pack). None of that stuff was on display… but being a non-local I guess I was singled out as an easy target.

    The gang were pretty rough and persisted in their struggle to obtain all the things they wanted. There were onlookers on the street and on the roofs. No-one wanted to help. In that community everyone knows each other and probably know the robbers.

    They were pretty persistent and when I eventually let go of my bag, they ran off. I feel I got off lightly (I felt relieved that they didn’t stab me, kidnap or torture me)! My wallet, phone & bag were taken. Thankfully I still had my passport and a stash of money zipped in one of my sleeves.

    I reported the crime to local police and they were supportive but told me there’s no chance of getting my stuff back, and I think they wouldn’t want to venture into the villa themselves.

    Funnily enough I don’t feel hatred towards the gang. I guess that due to the economic situation they are making their living according to their own waws. I wish that they may find a more honest way to make a living without needing to target others.

    Anyway, after sleeping on it I was eager to get out & about again the next day. It didn’t put me off exploring Buenos Aires. But I didn’t go back into the ‘Villa’ (even though that place still fascinates me).

    I think if you adhere to a few basic safety tips you’ll be fine. I count this incident down to my own stupid fault for wondering into a dangerous place without doing the necessary research first. Having said all that I’ve been to more deprived areas of India and felt much safer there than in BA.