A city of about 12 million people is a veritable breeding ground for law breakers of varying degrees. About a third of Guangzhou’s residents come from the surrounding rural areas in search of jobs, but often ending up with no prospects. Many of the jobless turn to crimes, some petty to sustain a daily living.
Guangzhou has China’s highest crime rate. In the run up to the 2010 Asian Games, the city made great strides in getting rid of bad elements by doing regular patrols on streets and train and bus stations, arranging neighborhood covert units, and installing additional CCTV cameras all throughout town. Guangzhou officials also banned motorbikes in the city to thwart bike-riding snatchers, but it has appeared that they moved to the buses and trains. There has been a downside trend in crime but petty crimes such as snatchings, burglaries and muggings are still commonplace in Guangzhou. Reported crime rates have decreased from a maximum of 140,000 annually a decade ago in 2000. Despite the efforts exerted by the city government, total crime in the city still reached 50,000 in 2008.
Don’t allow these details to make you shiver and cancel your trip to the city. Guangzhou is comparatively safe but comes with all the normal cautions with regards to petty criminals. As always be careful of your bags and valuables when in a railway station. Take good care of your bags, purses and cameras anytime you are outside. Some thieves mingle in a crowded platform or bus station and slash with a blade the bags of unsuspecting victims. Avoid venturing out in backstreets especially at night. Take the cab, and never take a motorbike.
Numerous flats are gated and with roving guards, and many apartments have window bars. Burglary is still common, and electronic surveillance devices are still not prevalent. Install a few necessary security equipments if you will be staying at a flat for a lengthy period of time.
You also need to exercise caution even while staying at four-star accommodations. These establishments while equipped with CCTVs and guards still have occasional problems of their own. There have been reports of inside jobs, so you better deposit your valuables at the hotel’s deposit box.
Crime incidence should not be blamed on the poor rural migrants, as gangs who have nothing better to do operate in groups when doing their illicit operations. Crowded eateries are intermittently disrupted by bored teens where fights break out. Domestic violence is said to be common as well.
Traffic accidents, especially those involving motorbikes, are substantially higher than other countries. Observe extra caution when crossing the street, as cars generally do not yield to pedestrians, and drivers expect pedestrians to give way all the time.
Despite all these security issues, Guangzhou is said to be no different than any other major Western city. You just need to exercise common sense to enjoy your stay.