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Italy 2013 Crime and Safety Report: Rome

Europe > Italy > Rome

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Rome does not have the level of physical violence that one might find in large U.S. cities, but residents and visitors traveling through the center of Rome could become victims of non-violent crime. Areas such as Termini (the central train station), the areas around St. Mary Major, the Coliseum, Trastevere, and other popular tourist sites are particularly prone to street crime. Pickpocketing, purse snatchings, and car break-ins remain the crimes most frequently reported to the Regional Security Office. 

Other “high risk” areas in the center of Rome include: Prati, Trionfale, Via Emo, and Piazza Cavour (all near St. Peter’s Basilica). House burglaries are most often reported in areas such as Salaria-Parioli, Porta del Popolo, Tescovio, and Villa Gloria. 

Some recent incidents of crime include: 

On 12/30/11, a U.S. Embassy employee was assaulted and robbed of his cell phone and cash near Piazza Ungheria.
On 01/01/12, a government vehicle (BMW) was stolen from the residence of one of their agents near Via Paisiello.
On 02/24/12, a U.S. Embassy employee was the victim of a purse snatching while walking on Via Nazionale. 
On 03/03/12, the personal vehicle of a U.S. Embassy employee living on Via di Santa Melania 5 was stolen.
On 03/31/12, a U.S. Embassy employee shopping at Porta di Roma mall just outside of Rome was the target of a purse snatching while making a purchase. 
On 11/30/12, a U.S. government contractor had his rental vehicle broken into. The thief/thieves were able to make off with the contractor’s laptop, passport, and wallet.  
Of the crimes reported to the Rome RSO Office, 65 percent are stolen passports, 13 percent are pickpocketing, five percent are home intrusion, five percent are hotel intrusions, five percent are stolen vehicles, five percent are sexual assaults, and two percent are the use of false identities.

Overall Road Safety Situation

Driving in Rome is stressful and dangerous, and traffic laws are often not followed or enforced. If you do drive and have an accident, follow the below instructions:

For a car accident with injuries:

Call 118 to inform the Health Emergency dispatcher of your location and details regarding the injuries. Call 113 or 112 to inform the police or Carabinieri dispatcher of your location and details regarding the accident. Wait for the emergency services to arrive. When they arrive, they will provide emergency medical care, reestablish traffic flow, and complete an accident report form. Make a note of what the name and destination is of any injured persons to be transported by ambulance from the scene. The pending police report will be helpful in this regard as well. 

For a car accident without injuries and without agreement on the facts relating to the accident:

Call the police (113), Carabinieri (112), or Vigili Urbani (06-67691 in Rome). If the vehicles are blocking traffic and if possible, law requires the involved vehicles to be moved. Before moving your vehicle, document the position of the vehicle by any means possible. Mark the four corners of the involved vehicles on the ground. Extensive photographs can help but should not be considered the sole source of evidence. Search for skid marks, broken glass, debris, or any other evidence that may help in determining the actual facts. Take photographs of all damage to both vehicles and pay particular attention to any pre-existing damage. IMPORTANT: Try and establish a third-party witness to the accident scene. Even if it is another motorist who cannot wait for the police to arrive; make every attempt to get a name and phone number of an actual witness who can be contacted later by the police. Witness fabrication is a common practice. Pay close attention to who was present at the accident scene and who is recorded on the police report as an actual witness. There have been reported cases of family members acting as witnesses to accident scenes while not actually being present. Wait for the police or vigili urbani to arrive. Upon arrival, the authorities will properly document the accident scene, take statements from all parties and witnesses, and fill out the accident report.

For a car accident without injuries and with agreement on the facts relating to the accident:

If the vehicles are blocking traffic and if possible, law requires the involved vehicles to be moved. Before moving your vehicle, document the position of the vehicle by any means possible. Mark the four corners of the involved vehicles on the ground via any means possible. Extensive photographs can help but should not be considered the sole source of evidence. Search for skid marks, broken glass, debris, or any other evidence that may help in determining the actual facts. Take photographs of all damage to both vehicles and pay particular attention to any pre-existing damage. Complete a copy of the Constatazione Amichevole di Incidente Automobilistico (Agreed Statement of Facts on Motor Vehicle Accident). Two copies for the visitor and two copies are for the other party. Do not complete the form if there is disagreement regarding the version/sequence of events represented on the form. Wait for the police to arrive and document the incident.

Car thieves prefer the areas outside of the Centro Storico, like Giovanni and the Appia areas where there is less of a police presence.

Public transportation or taxis are recommended for anyone without experience driving in Rome. All authorized taxis are white and have meters. The RSO has identified security concerns regarding the use of public transportation (buses and trains) while in Rome in its security briefing to “new arrivals.” There are numerous reports of people being victimized by pick-pocketing and purse slashing on public modes of transportation. Buses and trains tend to be very crowded, and many victims do not realize that they have been robbed. Most crimes on public transportation are covert. Women have reported that a knife or razor was used to slit their handbags and remove the contents, while men have lost items from inner jacket pockets. ATAC Route No. 64 from Termini to St. Peter’s is the most notorious route in the city. These buses are always crowded with tourists, so one must be especially vigilant when using this route. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Transnational and indigenous terrorism threats exist. The transnational terrorist problem is similar to that faced by other European countries. Additionally, Italy has long figured (at times prominently) in the rhetoric of groups such as al-Qai’da. 

Domestically, Italy is faced with several indigenous terrorist groups and radical elements, primarily consisting of leftist, anarchist, and anti-globalization movements. Italian government institutions and foreign diplomatic facilities have found bombs outside public buildings, been subject to bomb threats, and have received letter bombs. Buildings or offices are sometimes the targets of firebombs or Molotov cocktails, although generally at night; such incidents are instigated by organized crime or anarchist movements.

Civil Unrest 

Certain anti-globalization factions have organized protests that have turned violent. There is a risk that these groups could target U.S. government facilities and businesses. The Red Brigade (Brigate Rosse) cells that flourished in the early 1980s largely have been eliminated, but Italy has seen periodic activity by anarchists and remaining Red Brigade members.

Public demonstrations happen frequently. All demonstrations must have a valid permit and be approved by the local police. Usually, these demonstrations are well controlled, under the tight supervision of the police. Typically, there are three common locations for these demonstrations:  
(1) Italian companies (labor disputes), 
(2) U.S. Embassy (anti-U.S. foreign policy), and 
(3) Piazza del Popolo or Piazza della Repubblica in Rome (against Italian government policies). 

Post-specific Concerns

Regional Travel Concerns and Restricted Travel Areas/Zones

A high degree of crime occurs in and around the tourist areas of Rome. Foreigners and tourists sometimes possess large quantities of cash and can be distracted by the sites. Well-organized pickpocketing rings and other criminal elements operate intensely in tourist areas. Extra care and attention should be taken when visiting these areas. 
 
At the Termini train station, diversion techniques are the preferred methods used by criminals. Use extra caution while in and around train stations in Italy. The large crowds and chaotic atmosphere provide an ideal environment for criminals.

Campo di Fiori, a large piazza in the center of Rome, is an area where physical altercations occur regularly during late evening/early morning hours. The piazza has many bars and often large crowds that spill into the piazza. 

Americans have been the victims of crime in the Colle Oppio area near the Coliseum. Typically, the victim is befriended by strangers (typically in a bar or in a public park setting) offering drug-laced drinks designed to render the victim unconscious. The victim is then robbed, sometimes physically assaulted and sometimes hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained. Many victims of this crime wake up the following morning, often in a nearby park, with little or no recollection of the events.

Police Response

Police response and services throughout Italy are good. 

Where to Turn to for Assistance if you Become a Victim of Crime

In the event of a theft or any other mishap, please refer to the following list of helpful telephone numbers: 

Military Police, (Carabinieri) throughout Italy: 112 
Police, Rome (Polizia di Stato): 113 
Fire Department, Rome (Vigili del Fuoco): 115 
Ambulance, Rome, (First Aid only): 118

Providing assistance to Americans during a crisis abroad, such as political upheaval or a natural disaster, is one of the most critical tasks Consular staff can perform. During a crisis, Consular staff will look for missing Americans and help Americans return to the U.S., among many other duties. Consular staff advise and help Americans who are in serious legal, medical, or financial trouble, including health emergencies, arrests, deaths, missing persons, and destitution. To contact the U.S. Embassy Rome, call the Embassy Operator: (39) 06-4674-1 or Marine Post One:  (39) 06-4674-2112

Various Police/Security Agencies 

The Polizia di Stato (state police) and the Carabinieri (military police) are well-trained and equipped. These two police groups offer the full range of police services. 

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Recommended Local Hospitals and Clinics

Policlinico University Hospital (Pronto Soccorso) 
Umberto I 
Viale del Policlinico
Telephone:  06-4997-9514/9515
Switchboard:  06-4997-1 

Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Policlinico Gemelli 
Via Pineta Sacchetti 644
Telephone:  06-30151 

Bambino Gesu’ Pediatric Hospital 
Piazza S. Onofrio 4
Telephone:  06-68591

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

For health guidance, please visit the CDC at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/italy.htm.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Crimes/Scams

One common diversion technique involves criminals who ask for directions and while the victim is offering assistance, another criminal covertly takes a piece of luggage. Other techniques may involve a thief intentionally spilling mustard, yogurt, or soda on the victim and then apologizing profusely and helping the victim clean up while an accomplice is relieving the victim of his valuables. And, thieves are unscrupulous enough to offer assistance to a person struggling with bags or strollers, kindly pick up one of the bags, and disappear into the crowd.

Areas to be Avoided and Best Security Practices

American visitors are generally safe and are not singled out or targeted based on nationality, but foreigners do tend to be targeted for petty theft because they look like tourists. U.S. citizens are not known to experience large amounts of crime while visiting Italy and are less likely to be a victim of violent crime in Italy than in most large American cities. Most of the crimes committed against American tourists and visitors fall into the category of petty theft, such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching. A simple security measure to take that can help deter potential criminals is to avoid wearing any items of value. 

Be cognizant of your surroundings. Know where you need to go and walk with a purpose. Do not give the impression that you are lost or wandering. There is evidence that criminals will observe these vulnerabilities and target these types of individuals.

Visitors are also advised to exercise a heightened sense of security awareness while visiting public parks, especially after dark. While they are attractive locations for jogging and other exercise, in twilight or evening hours it is a good idea to travel with another person or with a group. 

Be attentive to your surroundings and keep control of your personal items. While waiting in line, keep your luggage close. Only use licensed taxis; do not use a private unlicensed car service. If at all possible, try to find an empty seat while traveling on public transit. People with bags should keep them in sight at all times. This makes it more difficult for the thieves to dip into the bag and extract valuables. Visitors are also advised to keep wallets in their front pocket.

Parents are encouraged to tell children that their cooperation will be helpful to ensure everyone’s safety and ease of travel. Families become a prime target if parents are focusing their attention on controlling their children.

Public demonstrations should be avoided because hostile elements within the crowds can escalate the situation. Additionally, these large crowds are attractive targets for pickpockets and terrorists.

U.S. Embassy/Consulate Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation 

U.S. Embassy Rome
Via Veneto 119/A
00187 Rome, Italy

DPO Address: UNIT 9500,DPO AE 09624

Express Delivery: Via Sallustiana 49, 00187 Rome, Italy

Business Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 am 5:30 p.m.; Closed Saturday, Sunday, and American and Italian holidays.

Embassy Contact Numbers

Regional Security Office:  (39) 06-4674-2175
Embassy Operator:  (39) 06-4674-1
Marine Post One:  (39) 06-4674-2112
FAX:  (39) 06-4882-672 or 06-4674-2356

Consulate General-Milan 
Via Principe Amedeo, 2/10  
20121 Milan, Italy
Regional Security Office:  (39) 02-2903-5293
Consulate Operator:  (39) 02-2903-51
Marine Post One:  (39) 02-2903-5255

Consulate General-Florence 
Lungarno Vespucci, 38  
50123 Florence, Italy
Regional Security Office: None
Consulate Operator:  (39) 055-2669-51

Consulate General-Naples 
Piazza della Repubblica 
80122 Naples, Italy
Regional Security Office:  (39) 081 583 8266
Consulate Operator:  (39) 081-5838-111

U.S. citizens traveling to Italy should register with the U.S. Embassy and can obtain updated travel information by visiting http://italy.usembassy.gov/english/.

OSAC Country Council Information

Italy has an active OSAC Country Council in Milan. Rome is in the beginning phases of the creation of its own Country Council. For information on OSAC Country Councils in Italy, visit http://italy.osac.gov/ or contact the Regional Security Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Milan, Donovan Williams. For more information on OSAC Country Councils, visit https://www.osac.gov/.