Protecting the Home
In Santo Domingo, crime is not the serious problem it is in many other large towns and cities around the world. That does not mean, however, that it is non-existent, and there are certain precautions you should take to reduce the possibility of becoming a victim.
When you are on the street or in other public places, use your common sense. Do not wear any flashy jewelry, nor open a wallet full of money for everyone to see. When using public transportation on pay days, take special precautions to safeguard your money. Many people prefer a bicycle pack which can be worn around your waist with the pouch in front. It cannot be ripped from you like a handbag and is difficult to open without the wearer’s knowledge.
Another suggestion is to carry a photocopy of your passport. That way you are not in danger of losing the original document, but you still retain some form of identification on your person.
How can I protect my home?
There are many ways you can reduce the possibility of your house being burgled. Outside doors often have a metal gate in front of them. Keep this gate locked for extra security but leave the door open. Look for a house or apartment with bars on the windows for extra protection.
A burglar alarm system in your home is a deterrent to robbers. When a door is opened, the alarm sounds and, one hopes, frightens the intruder into flight. Some alarm systems have a communicator, which automatically signals the security company. They then dispatch a patrol to your home. If you have an alarm in your house, you must remember to ensure that it is activated. Many people have been robbed who possessed alarms, but forgot to ensure they had been switched on.
For a cost of around RD$10,000 a month, you can hire a trained armed guard to protect your house. For RD$4,000 you can you’re your own night watchman. There are pluses and minuses to such a service. You sacrifice some privacy by having a guard walking around your garden but, of course, he is there to look after your home while you are absent. Some people harbor doubts about hiring such a guard as they are not always sure he may be trusted and some of them also have a reputation for becoming too familiar with the family and domestic employees.
A traditional way of protecting your home and family is also one of the most effective and least expensive: dogs! Many people are afraid of dogs, and their barking undoubtedly frightens and deters many potential intruders. There are a few pet shops, but perhaps the best way to find a healthy dog is to ask around; someone is sure to have a dog or puppies which need a new home.
There are several persons and companies that provide dog training. Veterinarians recommend, though, that this training be carried out in the presence of the owner. Ask your veterinarian for names of others who provide training. Note that the mere presence of the dog may be enough, and that dogs are instinctively protective of their owners.
How can I protect my car?
There are several ways to make your car more secure. Using a device of the type that locks the steering wheel to the brake pedal is one way of making it a little more difficult for your vehicle to be stolen.
Slightly more expensive is an electronic alarm system. They tend to activate very easily, so you have probably heard them in town (in spite of the fact that only about 1% of Dominican car owners use them). Some alarms make a sound when you turn them on and off, which sends a “message” to any interested observers. Amazingly, I have heard of the actual alarm systems being stolen. These are available from car accessories stores located at 27 de Febrero and John F. Kennedy avenues.
If you own a truck or jeep with the spare tire on the outside of the vehicle, be sure to keep it locked at all times, as it provides easy prey for any savvy but unsavory passersby.
The best advice to prevent you car or items inside from being stolen is not to leave any valuables visible to onlookers and to take care where you park your car. For instance, if there is a popular presentation in the colonial city, take note that while you are watching the show, burglars may be working your car to remove the radio. It is not a bad idea to accept the services of cuidadores, or caretakers.