This is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report's publication assesses Zimbabwe at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution due to crime and civil unrest.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in Harare does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
Review OSAC's Zimbabwe-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
There is a serious risk of crime in Harare. Overall crime increased 10-20% across most sectors in the past few years. Lingering effects from the 2016 introduction of Bond Notes drove increasing rates of crime across all sectors. The thirst for genuine U.S. Dollars that can be exported or exchanged on the international markets was the motivation behind the constant criminal threat of targets of opportunity, to include robbery, petty theft, vehicle burglary, home invasion, and smash-and-grab vehicle attacks at intersections at night (usually at intersections with inoperable traffic lights).
Due to the combined political and economic conditions, the U.S. Embassy continues to strongly advise against walking alone in the main city centers of Harare or Bulawayo after dark. Those who make Harare their home should take increased physical (residential) security precautions, such as installing anti-forced entry devices (solid doors/grilles) and robust perimeter fencing at least 6.5 feet high topped by razor and/or electric wire. An automatic or manned vehicular gate control mechanism is also highly recommended. Any system that sounds an audible alarm (with a panic button) is very useful and strongly recommended. Private security response capability is also strongly advised, as the police do not routinely patrol residential neighborhoods. Residential crime reports indicate that suspects flee in a majority of the cases when an alarm sounds and/or they encounter other robust security devices. Several U.S. Embassy homes experienced attempted burglaries and trespassing incidents in recent years; burglars found success when installed security measures went unused.
Criminals have specifically targeted businesses known to house or store large sums of cash, victimizing employees in several instances. Employee or inside jobs are also believed to be the catalyst for many business crimes.
There have been multiple reports of ATM skimming in Harare, as well as spotting incidents, where criminals followed victims who have just used an ATM, attacking them upon arrival at a residence. Credit card theft/fraud occurs periodically. The U.S. Embassy received information of a far-reaching credit card/identity theft scheme operating in Harare that victimized dozens of persons in the U.S. Due to the chronic economic challenges in recent, crimes of opportunity that involve a low risk of arrest combined with the high chance of obtaining U.S. Dollars remain a key tactic of criminals. Use extreme caution and only patronize ATMs at reputable banks, preferably those that employ uniformed guards to protect customers using ATM services. For more information, review OSAC's report, The Overseas Traveler's Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)