Nicaragua taxi crimes

This item appears on page 18 of the October 2010 issue.

Violent crime in Nicaragua is increasing, the US embassy announced.

Nearly a dozen taxi kidnappings were reported in July. In six cases, tourists each were befriended by a stranger on a bus who offered assistance in locating or sharing a taxi at their destination. In the taxis, the tourists each were held at knifepoint or gunpoint, threatened with injury and/or rape, robbed, taken to ATM machines to withdraw funds from their accounts, then left in remote areas.

Among the assailants were a young pregnant woman and men and women of various ages.

Passengers in taxis also have been subjected to beatings, sexual assaults and stabbings. The incidents have occurred around the international airport and on bus routes to and from San Juan del Sur, San Jorge, Granada, Managua, EstelĂ­ and Masaya, as well as within Managua.

Travelers in Nicaragua should use only officially registered taxicabs, on which the same registration number appears on the license plate, the trunk and one of the doors. Radio-dispatched taxis are also reliable and may be found at the airport and larger hotels.