If you witness a crime being committed, do not intervene unless you are really sure of what you are doing: many criminals, even pickpockets, carry guns, knifes, etc. and may use them if feeling threatened.
In general, a tried and true technique for staying safe in Lima is to simply maintain a low profile. Leave your fancy watch at home, don't wear a fine suit and don't carry a laptop when hailing taxis on the street, and keep a relaxed, friendly, smiling attitude. If you do need to go out dressed like a gringo, call a taxi rather than hire one in the moment - the few moments you wait and the few extra soles you pay will be worth it.
While there is not much violent crime against tourists, opportunistic theft is rampant. Watch out for pickpockets constantly. If you carry a purse, a camera, a backpack or just a pair of sunglasses hang on to them at all times. In crowded areas, put your back pack on your front and hold shopping close to you. Just keep your eyes open and be aware of people around you. In any case, if someone extremely friendly approaches (even wanting to stretch your hand), just try not to talk that much, and they'll go away. It's normal to find polite people around trying to help tourists, but stay away from the extremely friendly ones.
Avoid the surroundings of Soccer / Football stadiums before and after big matches, since "barras bravas" (hooligans) can be very violent. Ask for advice if you plan to go there or thereabouts. Very infrequently, but occasionally, even in nicer tourist areas, gangs of youths, sometimes supporting rival football clubs, or strikers involved in a labor dispute may brawl. If you find yourself caught in the middle of such a confrontation, just try to move out of the way, preferably behind a closed door - these youths generally do not carry lethal weapons, and the worst that is likely to happen is that someone will get hit with a rock before the police arrive to break it up.
Some areas of Lima are safer than others: Miraflores and San Isidro have large populations of well-to-do and wealthy Peruvians, not to mention large tourist groups, so they have large police presence to protect the population. Other districts, such as La Victoria, are much more dangerous. Visitors would be well advised to stay out of these areas unless accompanied by an experienced native or visiting busy areas during daylight hours. Downtown Lima is normally well patrolled but be careful anyway. Callao (the port, technically a different city) is rather rough: ask for advice before going there if you plan to. The area around the airport is generally safe and well guarded but use common sense while lugging your luggage outside the airport.
Staying safe for adults can also require an understanding of the sexual climate of Peru. In general Peru is a relatively conservative country in the sense of male and female roles, but at the same time Peruvians are extremely open to friendships with foreigners. Thus, some males can find themselves suddenly the object of flirtation by attractive young Peruvian women, but then be suddenly rejected for having violated some unwritten line of conduct in, say, discussion topics. Women can find themselves the object of unwanted looks and stares, but at the same time the risk of violence and rape is probably not as high as in many other countries.
A problem that can arise is the Peruvian concept of the pepera, found at certain night clubs or pubs. Peperas are usually attractive women aged 16–25 that deliberately entice foreign tourists and then spike their drinks with sleeping pills and rob them once they're unconscious. Usually peperas work in groups of two, although smaller and larger groups exist as well. Male "peperos" also spike the drinks of women but robbery is often accompanied by rape. Peperas in general are found in dense tourist areas, such as Park Kennedy in Miraflores as well as the Plaza de Armas in central Lima. One locale in particular that is notorious for dangerous peperas is the Tequila Rock discoteca in Miraflores and its sister in Pueblo Libre (La Marina). As of July 2013 cases of drink spiking, working with bar staff, have occurred in Albazos restaurant y pisco bar (Berlin 172 in Miraflores).
Another cultural concept worth learning is the "brichera" (or "brichero"). There are two types of bricheras: the first type are women that are genuinely looking to meet foreign men in the hopes of dating or marriage or even a quick fling. The second type are women that search for foreign men with the implicit purpose of exchanging sex for small gifts or money. This second type of brichera is risky, especially for foreigners lacking local sensibilities, since it involves prostitution. These bricheras do not use contraception reliably, and therefore pose a higher risk for transmitting STDs (Sexual Transmitted Diseases). If you decide to have a fling, make sure to use a condom.
Another important point to be taken into consideration is that you should not pick up just any taxi, especially when you are leaving the airport. It is not strange to hear news that some taxi drivers cheated tourists (for example, going from the northeast point of the city to the southeast part would take you at most 50 soles and that is the largest distance in Lima so do not pay more than that) by charging them 100 or even 200 soles for normal rides (even though Peruvian taxi drivers normally tend to increase their fares in front of gringos, it is not a massive difference). It is most advisable to use one of the official taxi companies inside the airport (such as Green Taxi) with set fares to ensure your safety.
Taxi drivers have also been known to participate in robberies, express kidnappings or serve as get away vehicles. While the overwhelming majority of Lima's taxistas are honest hard working people trying to make a living, you should be alert if you are going to hail a taxi on the street, especially if you appear to be wealthy and/or a foreigner. Your safest bet is to have your hotel call a taxi for you or keep the numbers of official taxi companies ("radio taxis", which are marked with registered numbers) handy. Lima's tourist information centers will be willing to call one for you as well.
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