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Record Number of First Time Travelers to Europe
Means Petty Crime Heats Up
PARAMUS, N.J., June 12, 1998 - Whether enjoying the panoramic view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower or
exploring the Coliseum ruins in Rome, American tourists need to remember they're not in Kansas anymore.
According to the U.S. State Department, crimes against tourists are increasing at an alarming rate. Pickpocketing,
purse-snatching, and other petty thefts are the most common crimes against tourists. As the world has become
more sophisticated, so too have the criminals.

A record 10.4 million Americans will travel to Europe this year -- that's one million more than last year, according
to the European Travel Commission. Of this number, an estimated 2.6 million are traveling to Europe for the very
first time. That means petty criminals have a whole new audience for their latest tricks. In response to Europe's
growing popularity as a summer tourist attraction, Western Union, trusted by the world to send money in
minutes, is offering a free World Travel Tips brochure just in time for the summer exodus.

"Europe is full of historical treasures and breathtaking scenery, and it is especially beautiful during the summer
months," said Liz Stokes, director of international marketing for Western Union. "It's unfortunate that as the
number of tourists increase, so does the number of petty crimes. But as long as travelers are aware of the
possible problems, they can enjoy a safe and memorable vacation."

Americans should keep a watchful eye out for these "tricks" in popular locations (according to the U.S. State Dept. and European locals):
Highway Robbery... In a scam practiced on many popular highways, a thief punctures the tire of a rental car. The thief and an accomplice follow the tourist. When the tourist pulls over, one thief helps change the tire, and the other takes the driver's belongings.
Stay Alert... While enjoying the beauty of rural Italy, tourists are approached by strangers and offered a drink. While you may think it's just that famous Italian hospitality, the drink might be drugged, and the traveler awakens to find he/she has been robbed. Also, on board overnight trains, tourists are easy targets for thieves who filter sleeping gas in their compartments.
Things aren't always what they seem... Thieves have been known to impersonate police officers or "officials" at points of entry/departure in a number of European countries. The thief shows the tourist a fake ID, and then asks for his/her passport. The tourist innocently hands over the passport, the thief goes to the "office" and is never seen again.
Mustard is more than a condiment!... Thieves often attempt to distract their victims by squirting mustard on their clothing, asking for directions on the street, or otherwise diverting attention from an accomplice. 
Watch your fanny!... Criminals on crowded trains sometimes use a razor blade to slit fanny packs on unsuspecting tourists. Once the strap is cut, it's easy for the thief to slide the fanny pack off without the victim noticing until it is too late.
Late night taxiing can be dangerous... Thieves posing as taxi drivers have been known to wait outside crowded discos and clubs and lure late-night partying tourists into their "taxis." The drivers then rob their victims inside the car.

Western Union, the money transfer specialists, has developed a comprehensive World Travel Tips brochure full
of useful information for travelers. It includes a handy itinerary log and travel and insurance information to leave
at home and to keep with you in case of emergency.

Following are key Western Union World Travel Tips:

Buy travel insurance and carry proof of it at all times.
Photocopy legal documents and leave them with someone at home.
Carry ID with you at all times.
Don't wear expensive jewelry or leave belongings, such as cameras, out in the open.
Secure your cash/valuables on your person.
Watch out for people trying to distract you - they may be trying to create a diversion for an accomplice to pick your pocket.
If you get caught short of cash, Western Union is in more than 8,500 locations in 40 countries in Western Europe. Simply call home and have money sent through Western Union in minutes.

"Many of these tips are common sense when moving about in your own hometown," said Stokes. "But when
people board that flight to Europe, they sometimes think that everything is going to be different. By reviewing
the checklist and staying alert, tourists can thoroughly enjoy Europe's wonders and experience the trip of a lifetime." For a free World Travel Tips brochure, consumers can write to World Travel Tips, c/o MSL, 79 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 or fax 212-213-7766.

Western Union Financial Services, Inc. is a worldwide leader in money transfer services. The company provides
rapid money transfer services through more than 44,000 agent locations in 150 countries worldwide.

Susan Imber 
Jennifer Goldin
Manning Selvage Lee

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