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Taiwan 2015 Crime and Safety Report

East Asia & Pacific > Taiwan; East Asia & Pacific > Taiwan > Kaohsiung; East Asia & Pacific > Taiwan > Taipei

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Rating: Low

Crime Threats

There is extensive CCTV coverage throughout Taipei, New Taipei City, and Kaohsiung. The network of security and traffic cameras, surveillance cameras in commercial establishments, and public areas of hotels and residential buildings ensures that most activity occurring outside the home can be monitored or recorded.

Violent crime against foreigners is unusual. Pickpocketing and petty theft can occur in crowded areas (night markets, large-scale public events). Residential thefts also occur, particularly in buildings without 24-hour security coverage. 

Fraud is endemic. Victims are usually contacted telephonically by an individual claiming to represent the police, prosecutor’s office, other government agency, or the victim’s bank, insurance company, or other financial institution. Many of these frauds are perpetrated by criminals in mainland China or Southeast Asia, making identification, arrest, and prosecution difficult. 

Cyber

Many businesses throughout Taiwan offer free Wi-Fi, albeit with varying levels of security protection.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions 

Taiwan is a left-hand drive country. Taiwan has an extensive list of traffic laws and regulations, including mandatory use of seatbelts. The most challenging aspect of driving is the multiple streams of scooters and motorcycles. Scooter and bicycle accidents are the largest source of accidental American citizen deaths in Taiwan. Although pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked crosswalks, drivers often do not yield; therefore, it is incumbent on pedestrians to check for traffic when at crosswalks. 

Public Transportation Conditions 

All forms of public transportation are safe to use. Taxis are metered, and drivers are licensed. All taxi drivers must display their taxi license either on the dashboard or on the rear of the front passenger seat. This license includes a unique identifying number for the taxi driver that is useful for retrieving personal items left in taxi cabs or for filing complaints. Buses and subway systems are used by locals and foreigners alike without concern. Directions are posted in English on buses and in the subway system in Taipei, and there are several free phone apps available that list subway and bus routes. A high-speed rail connects Taipei to Kaohsiung, with trains running throughout the day. 

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Taoyuan airport in Taipei and the Kaohsiung airport are major airports, with Songshan airport in Taipei serving some flights from Hong Kong and Tokyo. Taoyuan airport has many direct flights to the U.S. and is a hub for all of Asia. China Airlines and Eva Airlines are the two major Taiwanese airlines, both having multiple direct flights from the U.S. and many other countries.

Other Travel Conditions

The roads in eastern Taiwan, particularly coastal roads, are older and prone to flooding and collapse during typhoons and after earthquakes. Road closures in the mountainous and rural areas of Taiwan are not uncommon during and after typhoons. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Political Violence Rating: Low

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Terrorism Rating: Low

Civil Unrest 

Taiwan is a vibrant democracy. Protests and demonstrations occur on a regular basis in Taiwan’s major cities, particularly during elections. Protests are an accepted part of political life. Demonstrations rarely turn violent, although they may become confrontational between opposing groups. Protest organizers must obtain a protest permit from the police. Police often set aside areas for demonstrators, and police presence is clearly visible.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

In recent years, earthquakes registering above 6.0 on the Richter scale have caused damage annually. 

Taiwan is subject to typhoons (July-November). Typhoons have caused road closures, collapse of building structures, and major mudslides each year. 

Critical Infrastructure Concerns 

Absent power outages in rural areas as a result of earthquakes or typhoons, Taiwan’s infrastructure causes few concerns. Within Taipei even during large typhoons and earthquakes, there is little flooding and very rarely any power outages.

Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Thefts

Growing economic and business ties between China and Taiwan has increased concern that employees will take corporate trade secrets to China for personal profit. A recent amendment to the Trade Secrets law increased the maximum penalty for such activities to 10 years and fines; however, this amendment does not provide investigators with tools (wiretapping) to prevent trade secret theft from occurring. Once an employee absconds to China, the individual is beyond the reach of Taiwan’s prosecutorial system.

Privacy Concerns

Taiwan’ personal information protection act is very protective of Taiwanese nationals and is designed to prevent the inappropriate dissemination of personal information by government, law enforcement, or private organizations.

Personnel Background Concerns

While in local bars or clubs, foreign males should avoid directly engaging with or making overtures toward Taiwanese females accompanied by other men. Such behavior has resulted in severe injury and lengthy hospital stays for foreign males. Observe cultural boundaries by approaching the female’s male friends first and gradually requesting an introduction, if appropriate to her personal circumstances. 

Drug-related Crimes

Drugs are increasingly available. In particular, Ketamine and methamphetamine usage continue to increase among young people. Narcotics (heroin) are also available. Drug trafficking is a capital offense usually punished by extremely lengthy prison sentences.

Police Response

Police rarely have CPR training, although firefighters do.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Police harassment of law-abiding citizens is rare. Conditions of police detention are generally consistent with international practice. Suspects have the following rights: 1) the right to know what crime the suspect has been accused of, 2) the right to remain silent, 3) the right to contact an attorney, and 4) the right to request police to investigate evidence favorable to the suspect. If detained, contact American Citizen Services at (02) 2162-0000. A Consular officer will attempt to visit the detained individual within 48 hours. 

Crime Victim Assistance

Emergency police may be contacted by calling 110. The International Affairs Police (IAP), which is part of the National Police Agency, has English-speaking officers at all major police precincts during normal working hours. The IAP also maintains a 24-hour service center that is staffed by English-speaking officers. In Taipei, the IAP service center can be reached at (2) 2556-6007. In Kaohsiung, at (7) 281-5019. For all other areas of Taiwan, call (2) 2394-0238. 

Police/Security Agencies 

The National Police Agency (NPA) performs police and law enforcement in Taiwan. NPA’s primary missions are to maintain public order, uphold the safety of Taiwan’s citizens and society, prevent hazards, and promote the welfare of Taiwan’s citizens. NPA conducts criminal investigations, enforces laws, and performs many of the same functions conducted by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The International Affairs Police is a branch of the NPA tasked with assisting foreigners in distress or requiring assistance.

The Ministry of Justice, Investigations Bureau (MJIB) is responsible for national security and investigating major crimes. MJIB’s national security mandate includes counter-terrorism, counter-infiltration, domestic security investigations, coordination of national internal security, and protection of national secrets. MJIB also investigates public corruption, economic, drug, money laundering, and cyber crimes. 

The National Immigration Agency (NIA) is responsible for enforcing and investigating violations of Taiwan’s immigration laws. NIA officers staff Taiwan’s air and sea ports of entries. NIA also provides extensive services to foreign spouses and children of Taiwan nationals, including counseling, language classes, and protection hotlines. 

The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) is the civilian law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the resources of Taiwan’s territorial waters, providing first-line defense along coastal areas against smugglers and illegal immigrants, maintaining law and order and conducting search and rescue operations in Taiwan’s territorial waters. 

The Customs Directorate (DGOC) is part of the Ministry of Finance and is charged with enforcing Taiwan’s custom policies and regulations. DGOC collects custom duties, taxes, and fees, prevents smuggling, and enforces government controls. 

Medical Emergencies

Most medical emergency medical conditions can be appropriately treated in Taiwan. 

Contact Information for Recommended Hospitals/Clinics

National Taiwan University Hospital (Taipei): (02) 2312-3456
Taiwan Adventist Hospital (Taipei): (02) 2771-8151
Veterans General Hospital (Taipei): (02) 2871-2121
Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Kaohsiung): (07) 731-7123

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

Air ambulance services can be arranged through International SOS, (02) 2523-2220

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance 

The CDC suggests that travelers receive vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B and routine childhood immunizations. The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended for travelers to rural farm areas. For additional information on vaccines and health guidance, please visit the CDC at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/taiwan.htm

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Situational Awareness Best Practices 

Travelers should exercise caution and take personal security countermeasures appropriate to any major U.S. city. In particular, travelers should pay close attention to personal belongings. In crowded areas, remain alert to pickpockets. Travelers should exercise caution when using Wi-Fi in hotels and public areas. Victims should immediately report fraud through the fraud hotline at 165.

American Institute in Taiwan Location and Contact Information 

Institute Address and Hours of Operation 

Xinyi Road, Section 3, Lane 134, Number 7, Taipei, 106
Business Hours: Monday to Friday (excluding U.S. and Taiwan holidays), 0800 – 1200 and 1300 – 1700

5th Floor, #88 Chenggong 2nd Road, Kaohsiung, 80661
By appointment only

Institute Contact Numbers

Taipei Office: (02) 2162-2000
American Citizen Services: 2162-0000 and press *
Post 1 (24 hours): 2162-2319
Kaohsiung Office: (07) 335-6001
Website: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/

OSAC Country Council Information

Taipei OSAC Council POC: Regional Security Officer Gordon Hills Tel: 92) 2162-2334 E-mail: HillsWG@state.gov

Kaohsiung OSAC Council POC: Post Security Officer Jason Chue

To reach OSAC’s East Asia Pacific team, please email OSACEAP@state.gov.