As a result, the risk that people exchanging currency will be victims of crime has increased.
“Inevitably, moving around with a large amount of cash involves certain risks. It is clear that the criminals are aware of the changeover to euro and they follow what is going on in the vicinity of the banks and they try to find a possibility for attacking a potential victim,” said Krista Aas, police lieutenant from Criminal Police Department. Aas brought a case from last week as an example where two elderly ladies in Kohtla-Järve were left without 100,000 kroons which they were going to exchange for euros in the bank. Proceedings have been initiated for this crime in order to identify the persons who robbed the money.
“The police are working for the sake of providing a smooth and safe currency exchange in Estonia. As to this, we have done preparatory work and the work is going on currently, and as well as after changing the monetary unit. Inevitably, it is not possible to ensure a situation where nobody would be a crime victim,” said Aas.
But people themselves can do a lot for the sake of their safety. Moving around with a large amount of cash or keeping it in a “stocking” has always involved a great deal of risk as there are people who are interested in obtaining this amount of money in a criminal way. Therefore, people should avoid moving around with a larger amount of cash. An alternative to this could be making the transactions via an Internet bank or exchanging currency in several parts.
However, if you need to move around with a larger amount of cash, the police advise you to keep in mind the following factors:
•Credit institutions will exchange kroons for euros at the central rate and without a service fee for six months after 1 January 2011. The Bank of Estonia will exchange kroons for euros without a specified term. If you need to take a bigger amount of money to the bank, do it for example in several parts.
•When moving around with a bigger amount of money, take a reliable person or reliable persons with you who would be able to help you in case of a possible threat.
•If possible, avoid public transport or taking long walks.
•The bag which contains cash should not be worn in a hip pocket, open bag or backpack.
•Keep an eye on your bag, which contains money, in public transport, in crowded places and other places where pickpockets may be active.
•Hold the bag with your cash so that it would not be easy to tear it off from you.
•Never leave your things unattended and you should also not trust an unknown person to watch your things.
•People who try to contact you in public places for no apparent reason should be regarded as distrustful.
•There is a saying that there are no free lunches, which means that avoid offers to exchange kroons for euros “at an extremely profitable rate”. Currency exchange should be performed only in banks.
•If you nevertheless happen to be a crime victim in a public place, call immediately for help and inform the police of what has happened. Fighting back might frighten some criminals but at the same time there is the risk that the victim may get hurt in case of resistance. Thus, as to this, it is not possible to give one single recommendation.
Police and Border Guard Board