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Italy 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Rome

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Overall Crime and Safety Situation

 

U.S. Tri-Mission Rome does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

 

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED ROME AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

 

Please review OSAC’s Italy-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

 

Crime Threats

 

The RSO, through information shared by Italian law enforcement partners, has seen an increase in non-violent crime over 2016. Consult with credible local experts and local law enforcement to ensure your business interests are not impacted by, infiltrated by, or inadvertently doing business with a criminal organization.

 

American visitors are generally safe in Italy and are not targeted based on nationality; however, foreigners are easily recognized and often targeted for petty theft. Most crimes committed against American tourists and visitors are petty theft. Pickpocketing, bag snatching, and thefts from parked vehicles, account for 93.5% of all crimes committed against Americans in Rome. The U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services Section reported that 1,175 U.S. passports were lost or stolen in 2016 in the Rome Consular District, a 29% increase from 2015. There were 29 reports of assault against American citizens, and 200 reports of lost or stolen property, both of which are small increases over previous years. 

 

Criminals commonly employ diversion techniques. One common example involves criminals who ask for directions, and while the victim is offering assistance, another criminal covertly takes a piece of luggage. Thieves offer assistance to a person checking into a hotel with bags or strollers, picking up one of the bags, and disappearing into the crowd. Use extra caution while in/around train stations. The large crowds and chaotic atmosphere provide an ideal environment for criminals.

 

Areas identified as higher-risk for criminal activity include the area near the Termini Train Station, the neighborhoods of Tor Bella Monaca, Romanina, San Basilio, and Corviale. Pickpockets and bag snatchers are more common near the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, and Termini Train Station. These are well-known tourist locations, and transportation hubs. Car thieves prefer the areas outside of the Centro Storico, like Giovanni and the Appia areas, where there is less of a police presence.

 

Extra care and attention should be taken when visiting tourist areas. Visitors are advised to exercise heightened security awareness while visiting public parks, especially after dark. While they are attractive locations for exercise, in twilight or evening hours, it is a good idea to travel with another person or with a group. Do not venture down isolated or dark alleyways.

 

Home break-ins and auto theft account for 3% of all crimes committed against Americans in Rome. According to Italian National Police reports, there has been a slight increase from previous years in home burglaries and vehicle break-ins involving the Roman public in general. Vehicle break-ins are more likely to occur when parking on the street. Perpetrators target electronics and other valuables left in plain sight or that are easily accessible. It is recommended that cars be parked in a garage or in a well-illuminated area.

 

Violent crime (homicides, aggravated assault, rape) in Rome are far below the U.S. national average.

 

Recent incidents of crime against U.S. Embassy employees include:

  • While driving in Rome, an Embassy employees’ vehicle was hit by an unknown object intended to simulate a vehicle collision. The perpetrators claimed the employee had hit their vehicle and demanded the employee pull over to assess the damage. The employee stopped, exited the vehicle, and engaged in an argument with the other driver. While the employee was distracted, another individual took the employee’s purse from inside the vehicle. Stolen items included: identification documents, cash, credit cards, and house keys. 
  • An Embassy employee’s residence was broken into. The thief/thieves gained access through an open balcony door. They escaped unnoticed with an estimated U.S.$3,300 worth of property.
  • An Embassy employee’s residence was burglarized. The thief/thieves gained access through an unlocked door. Stolen items included jewelry, wallets, and coin collection.
  • An Embassy employee reported being assaulted after a dispute originated over a taxi fare disagreement. The argument escalated wherein the taxi operator physically assaulted the employee. It was only when the employee told the driver, in Italian, he was an American diplomat that the driver stopped and fled.
  • An Embassy employee’s vehicle was broken into by smashing the passenger side window. Among the items taken were a wallet, work phone, portfolio, and keys.
  • An Embassy employee’s bank card information was stolen at a retail location. The information was used to withdraw money fraudulently from the employee’s account. 

 

Cybersecurity Issues

 

Cybercrime is a growing concern for Italian authorities and should be a priority for anyone conducting business in Rome. According to authorities, credit card fraud, ATM skimming, and identity hacking account for 75% of all financial crime in the city. It is recommended that American citizens use ATMs attached to or inside a physical bank as opposed to a stand-alone machine.

 

Precautions should be taken to protect sensitive computer-based programs and operations. It is not uncommon for private corporations or government agencies to fall victim to hackers or other cyber-related attacks regardless of their location worldwide.

 

Transportation-Safety Situation

 

Road Safety and Road Conditions

 

Road conditions in Rome meet U.S standards. Roads are well maintained, and extensive lighting exists. Vehicle accidents are common, and accidents involving pedestrians are also common.

 

Driving in Italy can be stressful. Traffic laws are not often followed or enforced. Traffic enforcement includes extensive use of cameras, but enforcement by local traffic officials is limited and inconsistent. Scooters and motorcycles do not often follow the rules of the road and are known to use the sidewalks and median to get around vehicles at traffic lights and in moving traffic. Drivers should drive defensively and be prepared to brake quickly and avoid scooters and other cars that can quickly cut across lanes or turn across traffic. Pedestrians frequently cross the street outside of cross walks. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

 

If an individual is involved in a traffic accident, below are suggested actions.

Car Accident with Injuries: Call 112 to inform the dispatcher of your location, details regarding injuries, and the accident. Wait for emergency services to arrive. They will provide care and transport of the injured, reestablish traffic flow, and complete an accident report form. Note the name and destination of any injured persons to be transported by ambulance from the scene. A police report will be helpful in this regard. Do not sign any documents that either are not clearly understood or do not conform to your grasp of the factors surrounding the accident.

Car Accident without Injuries and No Agreement on the Facts Relating to the Accident: Call 112. If vehicles are blocking traffic, Italian law requires the vehicles to be moved if possible. Before moving your vehicle, document the position of the vehicle by 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 of the accident. Take photographs of all damage to both vehicles and pay particular attention to any pre-existing damage. Try to establish a third-party witness. Even if it is another motorist who cannot wait for the police to arrive, obtain names and phone numbers of an actual witness who can be contacted at a later time by the police. Witness fabrication is not uncommon. There have been reported cases of family members acting as witnesses to accident scenes who were not actually present. In incidents without injury, the police will not issue a police report. The expectation is that insurance information will be exchanged and the assignment of guilt will be decided through the insurance agencies representing the parties involved.

Car Accident without Injuries and Agreement on the Facts Relating to the Accident: If vehicles are blocking traffic, Italian law requires the vehicles to be moved if possible. Before moving your vehicle, document the position of the vehicle. 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 relating to the accident. Take photographs of all damage to both vehicles and pay particular attention to any pre-existing damage. Wait for the police to arrive and document the incident. Complete the Constatazione Amichevole di Incidente Automobilistico (Agreed Statement of Facts on Motor Vehicle Accident). Give a copy to each party. Do not sign the completed form if there is disagreement regarding the version/sequence of events represented. Contact your insurance company; obtain guidance on how to send them the Constatazione Amichevole id Incidente Automobilistico and inquire about further steps regarding damages/related expenses.

 

Public Transportation Conditions

 

The public transportation system (trains, metro, trams, buses) in Rome is modern, extensive, and accepted means of travel. Authorized taxis are white and metered. Only use licensed taxis or a reputable transportation service. Public transportation or taxis are recommended for anyone inexperienced in driving in Rome.

 

The RSO has identified security concerns regarding the use of public transportation (buses, trams, trains) while in Rome. There are numerous reports of pickpocketing and purse slashing on public transportation. During rush hour, buses and trains tend to be very crowded, and many victims do not realize they have been robbed. Victims have reported that their handbags were cut open and their valuables removed, while men have lost items from inner jacket pockets. ATAC Bus Route No. 64 from Termini to St. Peter’s Basilica is a problematic route for skilled theft. Buses and metro cars are often crowded with tourists; therefore, vigilance is advised.

 

Travelers should be alert for transit strikes, which occur often and generally on a Friday.

 

Several cases of sabotage against rail lines were reported in late 2014. These crimes appear to the work of opponents to high-speed rail (TAV) and while aimed at infrastructure instead of occupied trains, infrastructure damage has the potential to endanger passengers.

 

Aviation/Airport Conditions

 

Several major U.S. airlines service the Rome Fiumincino (FCO), and Ciampino Airport (CIA) international airports. Airline safety is considered on par with other Western European countries.

 

Other Travel Conditions

 

There are numerous tour organizations that arrange travel throughout the country, with varying degrees of service. None are deemed off-limits.

 

Terrorism Threat

 

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED ROME AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

 

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/ Concerns

 

Information as of January 2017 suggests that ISIS, al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups aspire to commit terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe. Local security authorities believe threats and attacks are likely to be a security concern as European members of ISIS return from Syria and Iraq. There is a continuing threat in Europe from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. European governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.

 

Italy’s concerns for terrorism are exacerbated by its proximity to North Africa and the Middle East. Additionally, Italy has figured prominently in the rhetoric of groups such as ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and al-Shabaab. The government of Italy has a robust counterterrorism program and actively monitors known or suspected foreign fighters and terrorists.

 

Italy also faces several indigenous terrorist groups and radical elements, primarily consisting of extremist and or anarchist movements. Government institutions and diplomatic facilities have received bomb threats and actual explosive devices. Buildings/offices have been the target of firebombs or Molotov cocktails, although generally at night; such incidents are rare and instigated by organized crime or anarchist movements.

 

Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

 

Anti-American rhetoric comes from groups opposing specific “establishment” referendums that have U.S. cooperation (Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite communications system, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)).  

 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

 

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED ROME AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

 

Civil Unrest 

 

Politically-motivated violence in Italy is most often connected to Italian internal developments or social issues. Italian authorities and foreign diplomatic facilities have found bombs outside public buildings, have received bomb threats, and have been subjects of letter bombs in the past several years.

 

Demonstrations occur regularly in Rome. However, most are small and well controlled by security forces. There are several common locations for demonstrations listed below:

  • The Ministry of Economic Development on Via Molise
  • The Ministry of Labor on Via Veneto
  • The Ministry of Economy and Finance on Via XX Settembre
  • and Piazza del Popolo, Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza San Giovanni, and Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus).

 

Post-specific Concerns

 

Environmental Hazards

 

Since August 2016, there has been increased earthquake activity in the northern region of Lazio, approximately 80 miles northeast of Rome.

  • According to Italy’s Civil Protection Agency a magnitude 6.2 quake near Amatrice on August 24 killed nearly 300 people. The tremors were felt in Rome and although very little damage was recorded, schools, metro stations, and trains were closed in order to check for possible damage.

The region has suffered hundreds of smaller quakes since August.

 

General information about disaster preparedness is available online from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Io non rischio campaign by Italy’s Department of Civil Protection has information on how to avoid risks including floods, earthquakes, or tsunamis, and has information in English. The interactive maps for each category may be especially useful for determining levels of risk for personnel working or living in Italy.

 

Critical Infrastructure

 

Response services will likely be disrupted significantly if there were a catastrophic event. A personal plan to overcome an expected disruption is recommended.   

 

Kidnapping Threat

 

According to Roman authorities, 41 kidnappings were reported in 2016. None of these case involved American citizens; however, the threat of being targeted for kidnap cannot be discounted.

 

Police Response

 

Crime Victim Assistance

 

Police response and services throughout Italy are good. 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.

 

To contact local authorities use the primary emergency services number 112 to request assistance for any emergency. The service has location detection and multi-lingual operators.

 

Americans that are in distress should contact the American Citizens Services at:

American Embassy Rome

Via Vittorio Veneto 119, 00187 Roma

Embassy Operator: (39) 06-4674-1

Marine Post One: (39) 06-4674-2112

 

Medical Emergencies

 

Main Emergency Number: 112

Ambulance (First Aid only): 118

 

Medical facilities are available but may be limited outside urban areas. Public hospitals, though generally free of charge for emergency services, may not maintain the same standards as hospitals in the U.S.  

 

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

 

Policlinico University Hospital/ Emergency Room 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

 

Bambino Gesu’ Pediatric Hospital

Piazza S. Onofrio 4

Telephone: 06-68591

 

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

 

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Italy.

 

OSAC Country Council Information

 

There is currently no active Country Council in Rome. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Rome or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

 

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

 

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

 

Via Veneto 119/A

00187 Rome, Italy

 

Working Hours: Mon-Fri, 0830-1730, closed: Saturday, Sunday, American/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

Website: http://italy.usembassy.gov/

 

Nearby Posts

 

Consulate Florence: http://florence.usconsulate.gov

Consulate Milan: http://milan.usconsulate.gov

Consulate Naples: http://naples.usconsulate.gov

Virtual Presence Post San Marino: http://sanmarino.usvpp.gov/

 

Embassy Guidance

 

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Users of STEP receive the latest safety and security information for their destination country, helping to make informed decisions about travel plans. Enrolment in STEP allows the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. STEP helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

 

Additional Resources

 

Italy Country Information Sheet