Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Increase in Crimes and increase in screening for Drugs by Local Authorities

According to reports received by the Embassy’s security office, there has been an increase in thefts targeting Westerners, especially pickpocket-type thefts. These thefts have occurred in public places and near housing areas populated with Westerners.

When riding public transportation or out in public spaces, be mindful of your surroundings and keep an eye on your valuables. Recently, thieves have focused on subways, especially those frequented by tourists. The thieves work in groups, sometimes distracting the victim before picking their pocket. The thieves then quickly test the newly stolen credit/debit cards at stores or coffee shops.

Many U.S. credit cards do not require a password or PIN and only need to be swiped or inserted into a card reader to make purchases. Once the cards are tested, the thieves can spend thousands of dollars within minutes.

Keep the doors and windows of your home locked at all times. If you have valuable items that are kept outside of your home overnight, such as bicycles, electric scooters or personally owned vehicles. Please ensure your valuables are properly locked, kept in well-lit areas and preferably in view of security cameras.

If you become the victim of a crime, or if you have been threatened, seek safety and then call the police at 110.

Recent press reports indicate that there has been an increase in “bar checks” by local police with a focus on several establishments frequented by Westerners. These checks involve police closing an establishment and requiring each person to submit to urinalysis screening for illegal drugs.

Chinese law allows for security officials to compel anyone to submit to a urinalysis screening at any time. It is a crime in China to have residual illegal substances inside your body even if consumed outside of China. Be aware that even if you are only in the proximity of a person using drugs, you can also be arrested.

Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.

For further information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and China Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, located at No. 55 An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600 at +(86)(10)8531-4000, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(86)(10)8531-4000.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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