Strange Laws That Can Get You Locked Up Abroad

feeding birds venice
F Delventhal, Flickr

Getting arrested is probably far down the list of most people’s travel concerns. After all, we’re usually focused on checking museums and monuments off our bucket list — not engaging in illicit activity. But seemingly innocuous behavior can get you into trouble in many parts of the world, including things like wearing bikinis and chewing gum.

The British Foreign Office has released a warning about strange foreign laws after a report revealed that nearly a third of Britons seeking consular assistance were arrested or detained abroad. They say many travelers don’t realize that activities that are perfectly legal at home could get you locked up or fined in another country.

A few of the unusual foreign laws they highlighted include:Venice: It’s illegal to feed pigeons here.

Nigeria: Taking mineral water into the country could land you in hot water.

Singapore: Chewing gum on public transit is a big no-no.

Japan: Watch out if you have allergies. A lot of nasal sprays are on this country’s black list.

Wondering what other laws could get you locked up abroad? Here are a few more we rounded up:

Dubai: Kissing in public could land you in jail in this conservative country.

Thailand: Stepping on the local currency — which bears the image of the king — is seen as disrespecting the monarch and could get you arrested.

Greece: Wearing stilettos at archaeological sites in Greece will get you into trouble. The pointy shoes are banned because of the damage they cause to the historic monuments.

Germany: It’s against the law to run out of gas on the autobahn. Stopping unnecessarily on this fast-paced high way is illegal, and that includes those who forget to fill up their tank.

What other unusual foreign laws have you come across?

Mystery bag gets passenger yanked from Boston flight

Boston passenger pulled from US Airways flightWas Ognjen Milatovic a nutty professor? Only time – and the legal process – will tell. The University of North Florida professor of mathematics and statistics put a carry-on in the overhead bin … and his fellow passengers said it was making strange noises. Then, he wouldn’t get off his phone and take his seat when told to do so by the crew.

So, he was turned over to the Massachusetts State Police.

Milatovic was arrested in Boston and then released on his own recognizance after being pulled from the US Airways flight on Monday. The mystery luggage was inspected, and according to the Associated Press, “no threat was found.”

[photo by purpleslog via Flickr]

Man arrested in Mexico smuggling 18 monkeys in his pants

Are those monkeys in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

A Mexican man was arrested upon arrival in Mexico City after flying from Lima, Peru with 18 titi monkeys strapped around his waist. While the monkeys traveled in his luggage, Roberto Sol Cabrera placed the endangered monkeys into socks that fit into a waist girdle “to protect them from X-rays,” though two of the monkeys did not survive the journey, sadly.

Police said Mr. Sol Cabrera behaved “nervously” when questioned at customs, not surprising given the amount of squirming primates near his privates. He reportedly paid around $30 per monkey in Peru that could fetch up to $1,550 each as exotic pets on the Mexican market. He is being investigated on charges of trafficking an endangered species. After similar arrests of smuggling via hat and shirt, I look forward to a monkey-smuggling episode of Locked Up Abroad.

[Via BBC News.]

[Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke]

German tourist arrested for bomb threat at Disney World

Seriously folks, who out there doesn’t know by now that it’s just not okay to make a bomb threat? It’s not okay at the airport, and it’s not okay at Disney World either. But still, we have yet another story about someone getting arrested for making a false bomb threat.

A 37-year old German tourist told security that he had two bombs in his backpack as he was passing through security at Walt Disney World in California. Not surprisingly, the security guards detained him and had a bomb-sniffing dog check out his bag. No bombs were found, and the man, who then claimed he was just joking about those bombs, was arrested and taken to the Orange County Jail. Bail was set at $10,000.

According to ABC News, this isn’t the first bomb scare at Disney. In September, a mysterious device was found under a bus. Bus service around the resort was suspended, but the device was not found to be explosive.

Man caught with dog inside his luggage

I’ve traveled with my cats a few times while making some cross country moves. I hated cramming them into squat cages to fit them under my airplane seat and I really hated having to pay a few hundred dollars for their own “tickets” plus the vet checks and paperwork that certified them as healthy enough to fly. But never would I have considered trying to smuggle them on a flight inside my luggage. Yet that’s exactly what a man traveling from Madrid to Dublin did with a small Chihuahua dog.

Somehow the man was able to get the dog, which was in a cage inside his luggage, through security in Madrid. When he got off the plane in Dublin after a 2.5 hour flight, customs officials noticed a strange outline as they X-rayed his bag. They thought it was a stuffed animal until they opened the bag and found the live dog.

The man, who is originally from Bulgaria, has been arrested. The dog was reportedly in fine condition and is being held in quarantine after which, I hope he will be placed in the care of someone with a little more common sense.

[via Telegraph]