Safety Tips: How to Avoid Thieves and Scammers during Spring Festival

Safety Tips: How to Avoid Thieves and Scammers during Spring Festival
Feb 04, 2016 Translated by

Editor's Notes: With crowded train stations, empty apartments and wallets full of money, Spring Festival is a thief's paradise. The world's largest human migration is underway, and the amount of traffic and disorder that result from it attract criminals, especially in train and bus stations. However if you know what to look f, you should have no problem avoiding scams this year. Some just take a little common sense to avoid, but others might surprise you. The article provides a list of common scams and reports on crime during the Spring Festival.

Crime and theft in China is at an all-time high during the Spring Festival period. Thieves target travelers, often to put together the cash for their own Spring Festival ticket home.

Beijing Changping Xisanqi police received far more reports of theft than usual this past month. In December alone, a victim reported an incident to the police in which his car window was smashed and property was stolen out of his car. Police launched an investigation and arrested three suspects who were renting a room in Xisanqi village. The three suspects, who had criminal records for theft, were trying to raise money to go home from the holidays. In four hours on December 15, the three criminals broke into cars in Qinghe, Haidian, and Changping districts. They smashed the windows of more than 10 cars and stole handbags, cash, and other valuable items.

Police caught a man making WeChat transfers from his friend’s girlfriend’s phone to his own account in January in Shunyi. Ms. Zhang called the police when she discovered 5,000 Yuan had been stolen from her bank account. Her boyfriend’s roommate eventually confessed to stealing Zhang’s phone and making the transfers to his own account. He said that he was short on money for the holidays.

Beijing Railway Station has been a major target for thieves leading up to the Spring Festival period. On December 1, plainclothes policeman arrested a woman carrying 88 fake train tickets valued at more than 20,000 Yuan. On January 16, a woman’s phone was stolen while she napped at the train station McDonalds.

Here are the various types of scams spotted during the Spring Festival period and how to avoid them:

1) Ticket Scam: Scammers sell fake tickets or overpriced tickets outside of train stations, or at fake outlets. Fake ticket outlets could even steal your bank card and password.

How to Avoid: Only purchase tickets from formal channels and beware of sellers at the station.

2) Pilfering & Luggage Scams: Thieves may try to swipe bags or steal things out of bags when passengers are going through crowded security lines at train stations and piling their bags on x-ray scanners. Other thieves will ask security if any bags were left behind and claim them as their own. Some will even pose as station staff to cheat passengers and defraud them.

How to Avoid: Know what the real staff uniforms look like and watch your bag at all times.

3) Lending Scam: Thieves will ask travelers if they can borrow their cell phone. In order to get the traveler to trust them, they often will leave their “luggage” (bags filled with old newspapers and trash) for them to “watch.” Then, they will run away with the traveler’s phone.

How to Avoid: Do not trust strangers and do not let others use your mobile phone or loan out your other belongings.

4) “Your Son Had an Accident”: Scammers will get a stranger’s QQ information or cell phone number and call their family and say that they had an accident. The scammer will then ask the victim’s family to send money as fast as they can for medical treatment.

How to Avoid: Do not disclose personal information to strangers while traveling. If your family receives a phone call like this, keep calm and verify the information before sending money.

5) Cheap Hotel Scam: People in train stations will offer to sell you hotel rooms. The rooms will be expensive and very basic. Sometimes they will be dirty and unsecure, so your property may be stolen in a sketchy hotel.

How to Avoid: Only book hotels through formal channels.

6) The Price Tag Switch: Shops near stations will often blur out price tags or put the wrong price tags on items in order to overcharge consumers.

How to Avoid: Always ask the price of an item before purchasing it. If you encounter fraud, you should find a police officer or call 110.

7) “You Knocked it Over”: Shops near stations or in tourist areas often run scams where items will suddenly fall off shelves. The shop owner will then demand compensation.

How to Avoid: Do not touch or go near breakable or expensive goods. Call the police if there is a dispute.

8) Home Break-Ins: Not technically a scam, but home break-ins happen all too often over the Spring Festival period when families leave their homes for weeks at a time.

How to Avoid: Make it seem like someone is home. Put a pair of old shoes outside the door, leave the TV or radio on, and leave a few lights on while you are away.

Here are some bonus tips to keep yourself and your belongings safe while traveling during the Spring Festival.

Spring Festival Safety Cheat Sheet

• Thieves often target those who are sleeping, have money exposed, wear backpacks, are in crowded spaces, or are wearing jewelry.


• Bus stops, bus stations, and train stations are hot spots for crime.


• Always lock your car doors quickly and don’t leave valuables in your car.


• Check if someone has placed anything under your wheels (a spike, glass, etc.) before starting your car- this could be a trap.


• Do not park your car in the middle of nowhere, and install an anti-theft device if you have to.


• Don’t pull out your cash at a shop when there are other customers around.


• Thieves often target stores that are having sales or promotions during the holidays because of the crowds.


• If you are carrying a lot of cash spilt it between two people.


• Only count your cash at a ticket counter or store counter.


• Avoid walking down empty streets.


Source: QQ News

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Keywords: crime Spring Festival theft crime train station


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I was wondering why there aren't more ATM thieves right before Spring Festival. I mean, mug like 10 people, and they have at least 100,000¥

Feb 15, 2016 21:22 Report Abuse



actually, yes, thievery, fraud, deception etc.. are the hallmarks of the culture--check out The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Feb 05, 2016 12:10 Report Abuse



for anyone who has ever traveled, all these come under the heading of 'common sense'.

Feb 04, 2016 18:52 Report Abuse



avoid china

Feb 04, 2016 17:55 Report Abuse



Good advice. But China is generally a safe place if you're not stupid.

Feb 04, 2016 16:39 Report Abuse



My girlfriends phone worth 7000 RMB was stolen from her pocket in Shanghai Nanjing Lu... Reporting to police is useless because they get a fat hong bao from thieves.

Feb 04, 2016 13:45 Report Abuse