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Crime & Security

Shanghai is a safe city overall. When compared with large urban areas in other countries, Shanghai fairs as a very safe city. The 98% conviction rate enjoyed by the judicial system, the flexibility of their law, and a large police and security service presence throughout the city serves to deter most crimes. However, petty crime does occur with regularity. The income disparity has been a source of social friction and is a root cause of much of the city’s economic crime, which includes pick pocketing, credit card fraud and various financial scams, often targeting foreigners.

The most common criminal incidents are economic in nature. Victims are often targeted because of their perceived wealth. Pick pocketing on public transportation, at shopping areas, and at tourist sites is quite common. Small pick pocketing groups of ethnic Chinese minorities are becoming more common. At tourist sites, thieves are generally more interested in cash and will abandon credit cards. In shopping areas, both cash and credit cards are sought.

Violent crime is less common, but there were isolated incidents. For example, in September, the maritime territorial disputes between China and Japan sparked protests throughout major cities. These protests turned violent with the smashing and burning of Japanese businesses. Additionally, American citizens who are or appeared to be of Japanese descent reported harassment while in the public. The harassment ranged from taxi refusal to assault. Also in September in two separate incidents, two Westerners were stabbed walking in the Wai Tan area. These types of incidents garner significant media attention but are not considered normal.

The use of unregistered or “black” taxi cabs continues to be a concern. In a limited number of cases, Westerners using “black” taxi cabs have reported being sexually assaulted; have had their luggage stolen; or have been charged exorbitant fares. Luggage theft typically involves a taxi transporting individuals to or from the airport and the driver intentionally leaving the scene before bags have been unloaded.

Police response for foreign victims of crime depends upon the type of infraction, where it transpired, and the social status of the victim (private citizen, diplomat, VIP, etc.). Urban forces in Shanghai and other first-tier cities are better trained and equipped than in other locales because authorities spend millions of dollars on security-related infrastructure. Local police are semi-effective at deterring crime; most responses to alarms/emergency calls are sufficiently prompt if the police are informed that the victim is a Westerner or person of importance. In some cases, local police authorities will serve as a mediator between the victim and criminal to agree upon financial compensation (sometimes in lieu of jail time).

Investigative training and forensic equipment are improving but remain substandard in comparison with those of Western countries.





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