I would like to say from the beginning that for the most part, the Dominican Republic is generally a safe place for tourists. Like everywhere else on the planet, there is crime here but you rarely hear of violent crimes against tourists. What I recommend is using common sense and perceptive powers to avoid danger and problems.
The most common crimes frequently committed against foreigners are theft related. Avoid unmarked taxis on the street and walking around with valuables, including visible cameras and cell phones. If you are going to use these devices please use them in a discreet way. If you are staying in a hotel, make use of the safe if available. Put all your valuables in it when you are absent from the room. You may have to pay an extra feet but its well worth it.
If you decide to live in the Dominican Republic, I recommend to not using laptops or other electronics near windows because some people may be watching and planning to take advantage. This happened to a few friends of mine, thieves were watching from a far what they possessed in their homes via the windows. It took a few months, but they finally got around to cleaning them out! So some more advice: invest in curtains! Also, when you walk anytime of day but especially at night, avoid dark, secluded areas.
Here a few areas you should be aware of that could present dangers for foreigners:
Santo Domingo: Street hustlers and muggers walk the streets daily on the lookout for black market fodder, passports and return tickets, cash and drivers licenses. So if you can, secure them in a secure place. When I had to walk around with important documents, I had them zipped in a pouch strapped to my chest under my shirt avoiding the obvious pick – pocketing.
Puerto Plata: Since this area is a popular tourist destination, it is good to be on alert for those wanting to take advantage of the situation and your ‘ignorance’. Everyone assumes that foreigners don’t know their right from their left in these places, but you can avoid this by doing research of the area before going and avoided shady neighborhoods. Some tourists and other foreigners have hired guides from tourist centers to help them get around town and avoid these dangers.
Sosua: Los Charamicos of Sosua is an urban area and should be approached with caution. There’s some drug activity and sometimes violent fights break out during the night.
Luperon: This beach town is known as a hot zone for a few reasons: the high AIDS rate amongst some of the people and also the crime. Be aware that there are a lot of swindlers, muggers and hustlers as well as violent crimes every now and then.
As you make your plans to visit the Dominican Republic, just remember to use precaution and use common sense. The country is very beautiful and I wouldn’t want your view of the people and the culture be tarnished by a little mishap. Happy hunting!