Buenos Aires is one of the safest cities in South America. However, it is still a very large city and the ongoing unstable economic climate breeds crime. There is no guarantee of safety, no matter where you are.
Pick-pocketings are frequent occurrences, especially on public transportation. Always keep a tight grip and a close eye on your belongings as you move around the city. Women traveling alone tend to be targeted, so being aware of your surroundings is important. Muggings also happen, and frequently it is someone driving by on a motorcycle who will grab a purse on the go. Porteños always keep one hand on their purse out in public. Another common tactic is distracting unwary customers in a cafe which pulls attention away from a second person who will snatch bags or belongings. Don’t be alarmed if people come into the cafe or restaurant begging around at all the tables — this is common, and only a few waiters/owners will drive these homeless out. Just make sure not to leave anything valuable (like cell phones or iPods) on the table, and never leave your belongings to go to the bathroom or up to the counter.
Most of these instances are without violence, and they rarely escalate to injury. The whole point is to steal something valuable — not hurt you. It is important for you to remember, especially women, to never get too comfortable walking around by yourself, especially at night. Be cautious on poorly lit streets and keep in mind the next block over will likely have more lights and pedestrians. Avoid hanging around train stations and terminals after hours. If you find yourself in an unknown area, don’t try to walk your way out — hail a taxi, or call for one before you exit.
Caution also applies to the streets of Buenos Aires, as traffic is dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. Always keep your eye out for oncoming traffic when crossing a busy intersection, even when you have right of way.
If you become the victim of a serious crime, dial 911 immediately. It is always helpful to know the location of the police station (‘comisaría’) nearest to where you are living. If you are not confident with your Spanish, the Tourist Police (Comisaría del Turista, 4346-5748, or toll-free 0800-999-5000) can dispatch an interpreter to aid you in reporting the crime. Although local police officers have a reputation for being corrupt and soliciting bribes, they (and other emergency service workers) will treat foreigners with the utmost patience and respect.