Tourist tip #43 / Sun, sand and swindles
It’s not all sunbathing, swimming and games of paddleball on Tel Aviv’s beaches. They’re also popular spots for opportunistic thieves to operate, so play it safe and keep a close eye on your valuables.
Picture the scene: You’re strolling along the shore on a hot summer night and think, why not, let’s take a dip. You leave your belongings by the water’s edge where you can keep an eye on them, though of course you have to look away for just a second to appreciate the view. When you emerge a few minutes later, refreshed and reenergized, you realize – with a terrible sinking feeling – that your bag has been stolen and along with it, your keys, glasses, new cell phone and wallet full of cash. You look around frantically but the beach is empty. You feel like an idiot. Well, dear reader, last summer, I was that idiot.
Careless night-time swims aren’t the only times these things occur – thefts of unattended belongings are commonplace on Tel Aviv’s beaches at any time of day.
Thieves have realized that beaches offer prime pickings as people flock to see the sunset or run after a frolicking kid. In fact, there’s even been a 10 percent increase in these type of crimes compared to the same period last year (although there is also an increase in the number of suspects who have been caught).
As a result, the municipality and police have taken preventative steps to curb crime – such as installing lockers on the Frishman and Jerusalem beaches (with plans to add them to other beaches as well), increasing CCTV surveillance and nighttime lighting in these areas and deploying additional police officers.
But it only takes a few seconds for unattended belongings to be snatched away so the best preventative measure is your own vigilance.
If you do find that you’ve become a victim of theft, immediately report it to police in the area or file a complaint at the local police station. Currently, there is a nearly 35 percent success rate in returning stolen goods – both from arresting suspects and retrieving items thrown to the sand.
In any case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. No matter how hot it is or how much you fancy a swim, nothing’s worth the hassle of walking home in wet clothes, cancelling your credit cards, or getting a new cell phone – let alone having to break into your apartment at the dead of night. But that’s another story.