Theft and robbery
Sometimes things go wrong when you’re overseas, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s what travel insurance is for, after the fact. However, there’s plenty you can do to reduce the risk of theft, muggings and robberies when you travel.
Explore this page to learn about
- preventing robberies and muggings
- getting appropriate travel insurance
- where to get help when overseas
This page is for Australians preparing to travel overseas. If you're already travelling and something's happened, see robbed or mugged overseas.
Prevention is better than cure
Some countries have a high crime rate, which includes robbery and muggings. Petty crime is common.
Most of these criminals are opportunistic. This includes pickpockets and bag snatchers.
Be careful about your personal security, and with the belongings you choose to take.
Before you go
- Decide if you really need to take your expensive items overseas. Consider leaving expensive items at home, take old cheap ones instead.
- Invest in tamper proof bags for travelling.
- Research your destination. Find out if theft, robbery and muggings are common there, or in certain areas.
- Get travel insurance.
While you're away
- Consider leaving valuables you do take in the hotel safe, rather than taking them out and about.
- Keep your belongings and baggage close when exploring, or in transit. Insurance rarely covers unattended items.
- Carry an authenticated copy of travel documents instead of originals, where possible. Lost or stolen passports are a serious issue.
- Keep money and valuables out of sight and avoid displays of wealth.
- Stay alert in public places. Especially where there's lots of people, including other tourists. This includes airports, public transport, restaurants, beaches and tourist attractions.
The risk of theft and robberies is more in some destinations. Read our travel advisories for your destinations, before you go.
Insurance for theft, robbery and mugging
Most travel insurance policies can cover your baggage and valuables against loss, damage or theft.
However, the amount of cover, in total and per item, can vary greatly. So can the specific situations where you’re covered. Think about how much it will cost you to replace everything you take with you on your trip.
Basic cover may be fine if you travel light, in a country with a low cost of living. You may even be comfortable with medical-only travel insurance, if you are not bothered by losing your belongings.
Make sure you have the right level of insurance before you leave.
Insurers can be very specific about the situations where they’ll reimburse you if your property is stolen. Check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for information.
- If you lose your travel documents (e.g. passport), you may be covered for the replacement costs. Some policies also cover any financial loss you experience from the ordeal.
- Most baggage cover policies will cover you if your things are stolen from your hotel room.
- Some policies will cover you if you get mugged or pickpocketed, with set limits how much cash they’ll cover.
Theft or muggings can happen anywhere, any time. However, if you're going somewhere where crime is more common, take extra care to ensure you have the right cover.
Before you go, always read the travel advisory for your destination.
Exclusions for theft and muggings
- Generally any items left unattended may be excluded from cover.
- Some policies specify that if your hotel room has a safe, you must use it for valuables, or they won’t cover them.
- If you leave your things with someone you didn’t know before your journey and they disappear, you’re not covered (even if you thought you were friends).
- Any claim where you don’t provide a local police report to prove your loss
- If you’re living overseas and have local home insurance, your travel insurer may not cover items taken from your home.
- Valuables locked in a car or checked in on an airline, train or bus may not be covered.
Where to get help overseas
If someone robs or mugs you when you're overseas, contact local authorities first. We publish local emergency numbers in the travel advisory for each destination.
- Report the crime to local police. You may need the police report to support your travel insurance claim.
- If it was a violent crime and you're injured, get local medical assistance.
- Seek help and support from your travel companions, friends and family. Especially if you need money urgently.
- Contact your travel insurer. Most have 24 hour contact numbers.
There are limits how and when the Australian Government can help when Australian overseas. In most cases, you must exhaust all avenues before contacting consular services for help. Read the Consular Services Charter.
Also see our general advice on what to do if you're overseas and have been mugged or robbed.
- Before you go, get travel insurance.
- See our advice on reducing the risk of being scammed overseas.
- See information about what to do if you're overseas and have been mugged or robbed.
- Understand how and when we can help. Read the Consular Service Charter.
- Read the travel insurance buying guide and cheat sheet (CHOICE).
- See tips on buying a travel insurance on MoneySmart (The Australian Securities and Investment Commission, ASIC).
- See your options when shopping for travel insurance on Find an Insurer (Insurance Council of Australia).
- See tips on reducing your risks when you travel on Know Risk (Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance, ANZIIF).
Before you go overseas, be aware of some of the common scams that happen to travellers. Take steps to minimise your risk.
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of a crime overseas, you may need urgent support. We've prepared these pages with advice for what to do.