Urgent advice is being sent out to international tourists planning to travel to Italy. This advice is also valid for Italians moving around the country during the peak holiday season during the month in August.
“Be aware! Make a Difference” is the campaign that was launched at a press conference held by Italian State Railways (FS) and Polfer, the Italian railways police organization. The purpose of this alarming advice is alert naïve travelers to the danger of being cheated at any given opportunity in mass transit areas at major railway stations and on trains.
Brochures in eight languages (Italian, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese) with effective graphics that are easy to understand have been produced as well as specific posters located in the more important railway stations and on trains. These will provide passengers with essential tips on how to prevent unpleasant incidents while moving around the country by rail.
Stickers bearing messages will be distributed and cartoons showing tactics thieves use will be shown on monitors in the main railway stations; the stickers will appear on self-service ticket vendor machines, on Frecciarossa trains (the fast and usually nonstop trains of FS), at ticket offices, and in Freccia Clubs (the special areas for Feccia Club card holders). The alert signs will be published in the free monthly corporate press magazine “La Freccia” through augmented reality technology on Smartphones. Passengers can avoid being the victims of theft and fraud by taking the precautions indicated in the above materials.
Over the first 7 months of the current year, 1,437 thefts occurred in railway stations, 2,045 on trains. 182 FS employees were assaulted while carrying out inspections and safeguarding passengers. An overall number of 795 people were arrested by police authorities, and 7,425 reported to judicial authorities.
“Through the ‘Be aware! Make a Difference’ initiative,” explained Franco Fiumara, General Director of Gruppo FS Italiane Corporate Security, “We aim to provide our customers [with] information illustrating how ill-intentioned individuals act in order to take advantage of travelers’ absent-mindedness. Security and personal safety when travelling by train and in stations begin with small but significant precautions. We intend to raise the awareness of travelers to ensure they pay more conscious attention to individuals trying to approach them using tricks of the trade and, therefore, take more care of their belonging[s]. These precautions and the intense work carried out by Gruppo FS Italiane Corporate Security staff and Railway police officers [should] ensure customers a more tranquil, serene, and safer journey.”
“Through this campaign,” affirmed Claudio Caroselli, Director of the Railway Police Department, “We want to raise the awareness of travelers, especially those from countries other than Italy who often trust the very individuals wishing to take advantage of such trust, at times pretending to be porters, ticket office or information office staff, and end up scamming or stealing from them. Making railway passengers more aware can lead to effective cooperation and, therefore, ensure that the prevention and repression measures taken every day by Railway police are more effective.”
- Be aware of typical pickpocket-working environments (railway halls and lobbies, ticket offices, self-service areas, train arrival/departure platforms). Thieves often prefer crowded conditions.
- Be aware of your surroundings while using the self-ticketing dispensers. Prepare your purchase money beforehand, away from prying eyes.
- Beware of beggars. It could be a distraction tactic while an accomplice organizes the stealing of luggage.
- Always keep a watchful eye on your luggage while in your seat and on board a train.
- Pay very close attention to your valuables, even when kept inside a jacket pocket hanging at your side when sitting on a train.
- Do not leave any valuable items unattended on the table in front of your seat while stowing your luggage. No ticket? No departure! It is mandatory to travel with a valid ticket. Purchase a train ticket to honor your travel, not simply because of potential control.
- Do not acquire services from individuals not in possession of a valid license. Never entrust your luggage to strangers.
- Do not purchase food items from illegal vendors. Such items could endanger your health.