Peru is generally a safe country, so travelers should not feel paranoid. But as in any other place in the world, follow common-sense rules and realize that thieves target travelers because they have cash and valuable electronics on them. You will be easy prey for thieves only if you are distracted.
Be alert and organized and watch your valuables at all times. Your money and passport should be carried under your clothes in a pouch or locked in a safety box at your hotel. Keep a constant eye on your luggage in bus stations. When in markets, place your backpack in front of you so that it cannot be slit open. When in restaurants or buses, keep your purse or bag close to you.
Make yourself less of a target. Do not wear jewelry or fancy watches, and keep your camera in a beat-up hip bag that is unlikely to draw attention. Be alert when in crowded places like markets or bus stations, where pickpockets abound. Go only to nightspots that have been recommended. Walk with a sense of purpose, like you belong exactly where you are. When withdrawing money from an ATM, be with a friend or have a taxi waiting.
Experienced travelers can sense a scam or theft right before it happens and, nine times out of ten, it involves momentary distraction or misplaced trust. If someone spits on you, latch onto your camera instead of cleaning yourself. If someone falls in the street in front of you or drops something, move away quickly. If an old man asks for your help in reading a lottery ticket, say no. If a stranger motions you over or offers a piece of candy, keep going. Be distrusting of people you do not know.
At nightspots, do not accept alcohol from strangers, as it might be laced with a sleeping drug. Do not do drugs. If you have been drinking, take a taxi home instead of walking.
Be careful when taking taxis and when changing money. When riding to the Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, lock your luggage in the trunk and hold onto your valuables. When traffic becomes heavy on Avenida La Marina, teams of delinquents often break windows and snatch bags before speeding away on a motorcycle.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition