One of the best parts about living in Taiwan is that this island is very safe. I had always assumed that Taiwan would be safe, but I had also expected, like I would in most other countries, that I wouldn’t want stay past a certain hour in certain areas of Taipei City. In my own native Dublin, it is quite common to hear about people getting mugged. I knew a Chinese exchanged student who was mugged after returning from a late night with friends. She was by herself walking down a gentrified part of Dublin that was still quite dangerous at night. She didn’t understand that there are certain parts of the city, particularly after dark, you don’t want to be in when you are alone. It was hard for her to know considering the area was gentrified and only a local would know if it was safe.
As a foreigner, I was worried that I wouldn’t know where was safe and where wasn’t. Fortunately, I learned that Taiwan is very safe.
Since coming to Taiwan, I have yet to have seen violent crime on the surface of society. What I mean by that is, of course there are issues of crime, but I sense that in Taiwan, it does not boil over into plain sight, unlike in many Western countries. I get the feeling that if someone did try and mug me in Taiwan they would say sorry to me (歹勢) for giving me an inconvenience and compliment me on my Mandarin(你的國語很好). Gentlemen muggers if you will.
Taiwan feels very safe, and the statistics don’t lie.
1. Taiwan Crime Rates Compared to the USA
According to NationMaster, Taiwan is ranked 128th in the world for its crime rate of 13.57 crimes for every 100,000 person (out of a total of 132 countries), while the USA is ranked 45th, with 55.84 crimes for every 100,000 person. The US crime rate is 4 times higher than Taiwan.
Most of the stats on drug usage, incarnation rates and the feeling of being safe are all lopsided. Taiwan has a very low rate on drug usage and incarnation rates and has a higher rate of citizens feeling safe when compared to the US. Even when compared to the UK and Ireland, Taiwan still has a crime rate 3-4 times less.
2. Taiwan Crimes Per Region (for every 100,000 person) in 2016 (Taiwanstats.com)
Household Burglaries (住宅竊盜):
1. Natou County 南投縣 (7.61)
2. Hualien County 花蓮縣 (7.51)
3. Yilan County宜蘭縣 (6.98)
4. Yunlin County 雲林縣 (6.69)
5. Keelung City 基隆市(5.63)
Sexual Assaults (强制性交):
1. Penghu Islands 澎湖縣 (1.96)
2. Jinmen County 金門縣 (1.55)
3. Chiayi City 嘉義市 (1.48)
4. Hualien County 花蓮縣 (0.9)
5. Taipei City 臺北市 (0.89)
Vehicle Theft (汽車竊盜):
1. Hsinchu County 新竹縣 (13.75)
2. Miaoli County 13.75苗栗縣 (11.48)
3. Chiayi City 嘉義市 (11.44)
4. Tainan 台南市 (8.7)
5. Taoyuan 桃園市 (8.37)
Drug Related Crime (毒品):
1. Keelung City 基隆市 (72.66)
2. Chiayi City 嘉義市 (50.18)
3. Taoyuan 桃園市 (43.65)
4. Pingtung County 屏東縣 (42.48)
5. Taipei City 台北市 (35.37)
The most prevalent crimes in terms of crime committed per 100,000 people is drugs. Unsurprisingly, Keelung, Taoyuan, Pingtung and Taipei City were all areas of high rates of drug crime in Taiwan, with Keelung City having a massive crime rate for drugs. I never realized until I researched the statistics, just how much crime in Taiwan is related to drugs. As I have written before, Taiwanese society and media is obsessed with drug crime.
3. Crime Rates Might be Low, But Scams are Common
Taiwan is well known across the world for its famous directors, semi-conductors, beautiful women and telephone scams. It is a very prevalent problem, particularly abroad. The Taiwanese government has found it very frustrating when these scam artists are caught in other countries because they are usually deported to China, not Taiwan. Spain, Kenya and many other countries have deported Taiwanese scammers to China. There has been a lot of nationalistic fervor from the government and many Taiwanese that these people should be sent to Taiwan. Personally, I can’t think of a worse punishment than them being sent to China for a crime. That is a real punishment all right.
I also get many invites and messages on my Line account. On any given day I am invited to join pyramid schemes, hookers or car dealerships to talk about changing my life for the best. There has also been quite a few times in bars and on the MRT when people would take an interest in me. I alway assumed it was because I am foreign and sooner or later the conversation would deteriorate to them trying to scam me with something.
Also, because of Taiwan’s outdated banking system, banking scams are quite common in Taiwan. I never open or read any emails I receive from my banks because their emails can easily be duplicated and the safety measures made are so weak, that I am surprised online banking theft isn’t more widespread than it already is.
I have heard stories from friends about there were scams in which people who be called by a random phone number and there would be muffled screams in the background and the caller would tell the person on the other end to transfer “X” amount of money of their kidnapped loved ones would be hurt. I am not sure how common this is now, or if it is something that ever happened on a larger scale, but hopefully, you, dear reader, can leave some comments and let me know.
My advice for anyone getting scam phone calls is to simply either hang up immediately or waste their time. Just keep saying “yes” or “是” “嗯” to everything they ask until they eventually get sick of you and hang up. Nothing better than wasting their time; even if it wastes a bit of your own.
Despite my best efforts, I haven’t figured out how to stop the constant stream of invitations from scammers on Line. It would seem no matter what I do, people can still add me by my phone number, even if I change my privacy settings.
4. Final Thoughts
Taiwan is simply a very safe place to live. I don’t feel afraid to walk around a park at 2 a.m at night with a beer. Instead of feeling like any second something could kick off and thinking “why didn’t I just get a goddamn taxi home, I need to take my headphones off in case someone comes from behind me “, I usually wonder “wow this traffic is loud, I better put the volume on my phone up to hear my music!”
Of course, if you were to look at crime from the perspective of traffic laws, Taiwan would not fair at all. While Taiwan is very safe in terms of violent crime, it is not safe when it comes to the rules of the road.
It is a funny observation that despite the crime rate being so low in Taiwan, drivers are atrocious. I am shocked there aren’t more serious accidents than there already are. The police do very little to stop drivers on scooters and in cars from breaking laws and as a cyclist and pedestrian, I sometimes don’t feel safe. Hell, people who drive expensive cars are the worst, they expect that they can do what they want and nearly run you over to get through a red light that just changed.
However, all in all, the general thesis of this blog post is Taiwan is a very safe place to live. It isn’t something you need to be too concerned about. I am more concerned about the summer heat and renewing my ARC than I am about my on safety in Taiwan.
Safety in Taiwan is one reason of many that I love this island.