Security Alert: During the holiday season there is the potential for increased criminal activity and safety incidents in Latvia

Security Alert – U. S. Embassy Riga, Latvia (December 16, 2022)

Location: Latvia, Countrywide

Event: During the holiday season there is the potential for increased criminal activity and safety incidents in Latvia.

Latvia has a “zero tolerance” policy for drinking and driving.  However, the holiday season often sees an increase in the number of drivers under the influence of alcohol, combined with longer periods of darkness and reduced night lighting.  Exercise caution as you drive or walk around Riga and other cities.  Due to the extended hours of darkness and slippery roads, wearing reflective clothing and proper footwear, and choosing well-lit paths, are highly recommended for your safety.

This time of year, there is also often an uptick in property crimes.  Local news recently reported on increased thefts from homes by thieves taking advantage of the longer periods of darkness.  Remember to turn on outside lights and keep doors and windows locked in homes and to properly lock vehicles and secure valuables in hotel rooms.

Crimes of opportunity (pick pocketing, purse snatching, thefts of unattended bikes) can take place at any time.  Petty crime is common, particularly in downtown Riga, such as bag snatching, pickpocketing, and muggings.  Hotspots include Old Town, the central train and bus stations, the Central Market, parks, and routes to major hotels.  Be sure to exercise good situational awareness, vary routes and times of arrival/departure, and choose well-lit, populated routes — especially while walking at night.

Riga Police have reported an increase in reports of “Drink Spiking” at club and bars, followed by robberies of the victims.  Drugs such as Rohypnol, Ketamine, or GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) are scentless, colorless, and tasteless and can be easily slipped into unsuspecting victims’ drinks.  These drugs can make people feel disorientated, confused, temporarily paralyzed, or lose consciousness.  Please use the “buddy system” when going out, do not allow someone you do not know to order a drink for you, watch your drink at all times, and keep your drink covered with your hand or something else when you’re not looking.  If you see someone who appears to be in distress, is wandering alone late at night, or is dressed unsuitably for the weather, report it to anyone who can assist.

Actions to Take:

  • Exercise vigilance at holiday festivals and events, places of worship, and locations with large crowds.
  • Review your personal security plans.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Monitor local media for updates.