China 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Shanghai

U.S. Consulate Shanghai does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED SHANGHAI AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

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Crime Threats

Shanghai is generally considered safe relative to other metropolitan cities of comparable size. China's high conviction rate, use of modern technology in policing, and extensive law enforcement presence throughout the city serve to deter most criminal activity. Violent crimes (homicides, burglaries, robberies) do occur, but the rate is relatively low considering the city's large population (roughly 24 million in 2016). Petty crimes (pickpocketing, credit card fraud, various financial scams) occur at rates consistent with previous years.

Although a number of U.S. citizens visiting Shanghai reported being victims of crime in 2016, in most instances Americans do not appear to have been targeted specifically. A majority of crimes are financial in nature, and foreigners may be the victims of crime due to perceived affluence.

Pickpocketing is quite common on public transportation, in shopping areas, and at tourist sites. Small pickpocketing groups commonly work in concert when targeting their victims. At tourist sites, thieves are generally more interested in cash and are likely to abandon credit cards; in shopping areas, both cash and credit cards may be sought.

Violent crimes affecting the expatriate community most often occur at bars, clubs, and restaurants in Shanghai's vibrant nightlife districts. Bar fights have occurred due to misunderstandings, miscommunication, bravado, alcohol consumption, or some combination. While the legal age for consuming alcohol in China is 18, most establishments in Shanghai do not require identification. Some bars are overcrowded, and safety standards are seldom enforced. Prostitutes and drug dealers may be present in some bars and clubs.

Sexual assaults have occurred, though reported incidents remain relatively rare. Most instances involve the consumption of alcohol beverages in bars, nightclubs, and massage parlors. Individuals who frequent bars, nightclubs, and similar establishments are more likely to be involved in physical altercations afterhours. Sexual assault may also occur in unlicensed taxi cabs.

Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council