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Upon planning for a trip through Chile, Bolivia and Peru, I have encountered several personal accounts of (armed) robberies of overland buses between tourist destinations, especially in Bolivia and Peru.

Since long-distance buses are the most available kind of transportation there, many tourists probably end up taking such a bus.

How likely is it to be to be the victim in such a robbery (i.e. does this happen once a year or is this a more regular occurrence)?
What planning can I do beforehand to reduce the risk of getting into such a situation in the first place?
If I do find myself in this situation, how should I behave?

  • First part of question is opinion based. – user 56513 Mar 12 at 9:35
  • @ThEiLlEgAlaLiEn You mean how likely it is to be a victim? – ahemmetter Mar 12 at 9:39
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    @ThEiLlEgAlaLiEn I don't understand. "How likely" is the only one of the questions that can, in principle, be answered objectively. There are X bus journeys and Y robberies per year in whatever region, so the chance of being robbed on any particular trip is about Y/X. – David Richerby Mar 12 at 11:17
  • @ThEiLlEgAlaLiEn Guys, relax. For "how likely" I am interested for example in a comparison to other crimes (e.g. "happens as often as a bus accident"), so that it is a bit easier to judge the risk, since I have never been to a country where a bus robbery was even a possibility. I think this is quite an objective question that can be answered neutrally by crime statistics from official sources. The rest is asking for "best practises", such as if it helps to avoid night buses, certain companies or routes/regions that are being targeted, if it helps to hide money in luggage etc etc. – ahemmetter Mar 12 at 11:37
  • @ThEiLlEgAlaLiEn How likely somebody is to get a visa depends very much on their specific circumstances and application, so is not answerable with statistics. – David Richerby Mar 12 at 11:48
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This is not quite easy to answer canonically.

I've lived in Brazil for the last five years and have seen much of the continent, traveling quite a bit by long distance bus.

I've never had an issue with long distance bus robberies, and have never spoken to anyone who's had. I am aware of robberies on local busses in Brazil, some occurrences of which you can find videos of on YouTube. So, I'd say it is very unlikely to be a victim of a bus robbery on a long distance bus.

If you do find yourself in a situation like this, be cool, cooperate, don't highlight your being a foreigner.

To mitigate potential consequences, keep your valuables in several locations. Perhaps some on your body, some in your hand luggage, some in the luggage in the belly of the bus. This allows you to hand over something to the robber, with possibly not handing over everything.

  • Thanks! So this is in essense something to not worry about. Separating valuables is a good idea. What is the main target of such robberies? Phones, cash, passports or just simply whatever they can get? – ahemmetter Mar 13 at 7:30
  • I'm not aware of robberies on long distance busses, so I can't speak for those, but for the ones that occur in Brazil, yeah, the objective is to quickly empty passengers' pockets of small valuables; phones, wallets. – MastaBaba Mar 13 at 8:56

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