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The guide to Managua Taxis and Flash Kidnappings (avoidance)…

December 17, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The typical taxi in Managua

Even before I left for Nicaragua, I had heard stories about the taxis in Managua.  Taxis outside of the capital, in Nicaragua are generally safe, and I have not heard many stories of any issues.  Taxi cabs in Managua have a horrible reputation for robberies and kidnappings.  Although nothing has happened to me as of yet, I have received many pieces of advice on how to proceed with taxi cabs in Managua.  I have passed on many pieces of advice to other travellers as well.

The dangers lie in being picked up by a taxi, and others jumping in and being kidnapped.  The driver is usually in on the action.  The robbers basically get your bank card, or credit card, and drive you around to different ATMs (ABM in Canadian speak) and empty our your account until you have hit your daily limit.  They then dump you off in an area of town far away from where you were picked up.  I have even heard of the robbers giving you enough for the taxi fare back to your point of departure.  Very friendly robbers here.
Note that within any big city, there are dangers.  I believe that if you are informed, you can at least minimize the chances that something will happen to you.  Here are bits of advice to avoid robbery or flash kidnappings in Managua that I have collected from other residents and travellers and also experienced myself over the last few weeks (note that most of these precautions are for taking a taxi after dark – taxis are generally safer during the day, but you should still follow the bits of advice below if you do not know the taxi driver):
  • The bus is always the safest form of transportation in Managua – especially after dark.  Taxis are generally quite safe during the daytime in Managua.  The issue lies in the fact that many buses stop running after 8 or 9pm between cities, so your only choice will be to take a taxi at night.
  • If you do take a taxi, have the phone numbers of several reliable taxi drivers stored in your phone, and call them.  Reliable, trustworthy taxi driver numbers are exchanged frequently amongst the ex-pat and local community in Managua.

If you do not have a number for a taxi and absolutely need to take one (especially at night), adhere to the following:

  • Do not carry bank cards or credit cards after dark unless absolutely necessary (goes for taxi cabs, and Managua in general)
  • Look for a taxi with a white number plate with red stripes on the top and bottom.  These are official taxis.  An example of the license plate can be seen in the picture above. 
  • The taxi plate number must also be painted on the back of the taxi cab.  This signifies that it is an “official”  taxi.
  • Look for the yellow taxi sign on top of the car as well.
  • Make sure that you ask the taxi driver outright what the license plate number is, and copy it down for your records.  I usually text the number to a friend just in case.  If you ask the taxi driver what the plate number is when he is outside, and he/she sees that you are copying it down, they are less likely to take advantage of you. – Taxi drivers in Managua are used to this practice and it is very common
  • Some people pretend to call a friend, and give them the license plate number, and expected time of arrival
  • Do not talk about how much money you make, any details on your lifestyle, whether or not you live alone, etc.
  • Tell the driver that you do not want any other passengers in the vehicle with you.
  • When you get into the cab sit behind the driver, so that you can easily get out should anything arise.  There are various other theories on where to sit, such as in the front seat beside the cabbie.  Use common sense and follow your own thought process if you like.
  • Make sure that the door opens from the inside, as the child lock can be on, which can be another danger in getting out.
  • One friend even suggested taking a picture of the driver and sending it to a friend via cell phone – This particular friend had 7 friends kidnapped in Managua this year.
  • If you feel uneasy about initially getting into the taxi, do not get in.  It is not worth getting kidnapped out of not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.
  • If you feel uneasy at any point, you can ask the car to stop at a gas station, and get out.

These are just a handful of tips that I have picked up in Managua.  If you have any additional tips for taxis in Central America, please feel free to post in the comments below.

As with everything in life.  Take precautions, and use common sense.

 

  1. March 20, 2011 at 10:43

    I was kidnapped at 1PM in Managua. I shared a taxi with an old woman that I on the bus into town. my advice, do not trust anyone and exercise extreme caution at all time. The police are corrupt, they are not worth approaching after the event. Take a card with you, and pay the money. There are stories of violence if you have no money.

  2. March 20, 2011 at 10:40

    I was kidnapped at around 1PM in broad daylight. I shaped a taxi with an old lady i met on the bus into town. My advice, even during the day exercise extreme caution.

  3. jon
    December 23, 2010 at 01:14

    People do get roughed up. I am not sure what happens if you don’t have cash or cards on you. The general rule is to have a bit on you to hand over in case something happens. I am sure they would not be happy if you don’t have cash, but I have heard of some being robbed for less than 2 bucks. I guess it goes with the territory when people need money, and are desperate.

    Hopefully these tips can at least prevent a few incidents. You can prevent all you want, but you cannot avoid everything

  4. Stephanie
    December 19, 2010 at 03:32

    Seems like these are mainly just for money, or have you heard of any people getting roughed up at all? I wonder what happens if you don’t have your cards or cash on you, do the robbers just leave you alone, or do they get ticked off?

  1. July 22, 2011 at 22:28

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