Las Vegas is a destination flocked to by many from around the world for its casinos, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and hot weather. With these fun and flashy features also comes the reality of crime; theft, robbery, violence, and gang activity inevitably orbit this party town. Despite the risks, staying safe is possible when visiting Nevada’s most famous city.
If you’re thinking about traveling to Vegas for the first time, this blog will provide you with everything you need to know about the city’s safety and tips for staying safe during your visit.
Is Las Vegas dangerous for tourists?
Las Vegas is not dangerous for tourists if they use common sense and stick to populated, common areas. Popular tourist areas include the Strip and Fremont Street, which are well patrolled by the local police force. Many hotels in these areas have also increased room rates and in-house security in efforts to decrease danger. Things like security officers, metal detectors, pat-downs, and security cameras are all in place to make Las Vegas a safer place for travelers.
Destinations like the Strip and Fremont Street are not exempt from crime; however, they are significantly lower than other areas throughout the city as you can see on this Las Vegas crime map.
Is the Las Vegas strip safe at night?
The Las Vegas strip can be a safe place at night. Since it is a popular tourist destination, there are heightened security measures and police presence on the Strip; however, it is not devoid of risk. As of 2020, violent crime on the Strip had risen by 4% compared to 2019 so it is important to use common sense and safe travel practices while visiting the Strip, whether at night or during the day.
Here are our top safety tips for travelers to Las Vegas:
Las Vegas Safety Tips
- Stick to crowded tourist areas
- Drive or take a cab
- Practice car safety
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Be mindful of your personal items
- Skip the bling
- Be smart about your hotel room
- Gamble discreetly
- Practice beverage safety
- Keep it in the family
- Know how to identify local police and security staff
1. Stick to crowded tourist areas
This is the Golden Rule when traveling to Las Vegas. DO NOT roam past the crowds and tourist attractions. There are several slums directly outside the Strip and Fremont Street with plenty of gang activity. You cannot rely on these streets to be monitored or patrolled by the police.
The Strip is located on Las Vegas Boulevard and runs from Mandalay Bay up to The Stratosphere. Fremont Street is a much smaller stretch and does not continue on to another road so there is less need to be mindful of when to stop and turn around.
Pro tip: If you notice you’re in an area with few people around you, move to a more crowded area as soon as possible.
2. Drive or take a cab
If you are traveling to Las Vegas by plane and don’t intend to rent a vehicle, you will need to arrange for transportation to and from the airport and throughout the city during your visit.
If you fly into McCarran International Airport, we recommend taking a shuttle bus, cab, ride-share, or limousine to your hotel or Airbnb. These will be readily available to you at the airport when you arrive and will not require any sort of pre-booking (although that never hurts). We do not recommend walking to your accommodations from the airport despite the Strip being within walking distance from your terminal. The route is not entirely pedestrian-friendly and can be an area for criminal activity once the sun goes down.
When traveling between tourist locations, avoid walking, especially at night! Drive or take a cab or ride-share The bus system is also an option as it’s heavily used by locals throughout the city.
3. Practice car safety
If you are traveling by car, remove all items and valuables from inside the vehicle. This includes anything that may entice someone to break in or that indicates that you’re from out of town.
Park in well-lit public parking lots. Ask the hotel staff for an escort if you feel uncomfortable walking to your vehicle at night, have your keys ready in your pocket, and check the interior before getting in. Know where you’re going ahead of time and use an app on your phone to guide you there to avoid wandering into the wrong neighborhoods.
4. Be aware of your surroundings
Always keep your wits about you when roaming about Las Vegas. Scan your surroundings and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. If you notice any sort of strange behavior, be mindful and stay alert. Have an exit strategy for the space you are in and leave the area immediately should an altercation occur around you.
5. Be mindful of your personal items
Theft and pickpocketing are common in Las Vegas—even when there are people around. Avoid using your cellphone mindlessly, as this gives thieves an opportunity to run up and grab it.
We recommend leaving shoulder bags and handbags at home or in your hotel room but if you must wear them out, carry them under your arm and not by the handle. Never hang your bag or purse over the back of a chair or leave it on the floor. Instead, keep them in your lap. As for wallets, carry them in your front pocket.
Pro tip: Wrap a thick rubber band around your wallet to make it more difficult for a pickpocketer to slip it out of your pocket.
6. Skip the bling
A night out in Vegas usually means getting dressed up in your flashiest outfit. While Vegas is a city of excess, try to avoid wearing expensive jewelry like necklaces and watches. This type of flamboyance can draw unwanted attention and make you a target for crime.
If you happen to purchase expensive items while shopping, place all valuables in your hotel room safe. For extravagant purchases, consider keeping them with the front desk as out of an abundance of caution, but keep in mind, that might still put you at risk.
Pro tip: Take photos of your items and keep an inventory of what was deposited.
7. Be smart about your hotel room
Before booking your hotel, do some research and read the online reviews. Scan for safety-related reviews and see which hotel scores the highest with their patrons. This is a useful practice in collecting first-hand insights from travelers who have stayed there before.
Despite their best security efforts, it’s impossible for hotels to ensure complete safety to their guests while they’re on the premises. Be proactive and smart when moving in and out of your hotel room. Make sure the door is fully closed and securely locked—even when you’re just running out to get some ice. Never leave the door propped open for any reason and use the extra security locks on the door when available.
Never give out your room number to anyone you don’t know and never open the door unless you know who is on the other side of the door. If you aren’t expecting room services, call the front desk to verify the knock before opening the door.
While away from your room, hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the outside doorknob and leave a light or TV on to make it seem like someone is in there and deter someone from breaking in.
8. Gamble discreetly
If you’re feeling lucky and find yourself gambling at the slots or gaming tables, you’ll want to stay mindful of the risks on the casino floor. When playing the slots, keep your cash winning as credit in the machine until you’re ready to cash out, and never leave your slot machine unattended before cashing out.
At the tables, never take your eyes off your chips. Thieves may drop a few coins around you as a distraction so you look down while they swipe some of yours. If the chips start to pile up, don’t be a show-off; exchange them for a higher denomination and tuck them away somewhere safe and out of sight.
If you win big, ask the casino to give you a cashier’s check instead of hard currency and ask a member of security to escort you to your room if you are staying in that hotel.
9. Practice beverage safety
When at pool parties, nightclubs, or bars, do not accept or drink beverages given to you from anyone besides a bartender or wait staff. Accepting drinks from strangers and street vendors is a risk. Many street vendors are not legally permitted to sell drinks for public consumption.
Never leave your drink unattended and when possible, order beverages that come with a lid and a straw. This decreases the likelihood of someone slipping an unwanted substance into your drink. Women are especially at risk in this scenario.
Lastly, be mindful of how much alcohol you are consuming. If you are visibly intoxicated, this may draw unwanted attention and make you a target for theft.
10. Keep it in the family
If you are vacationing with young children, make sure to educate them on the information in this blog. Safety tips like never talking to strangers or opening the door without knowing who’s on the other side should be discussed ahead of time. You should also establish an emergency plan should you become separated or the child lost. Las Vegas uses the 9-1-1 system so children can call that number should they require assistance.
11. Know how to identify local police and security staff
Should an incident occur, it will be helpful to know who is available to help. Familiarize yourself with the uniforms of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer and the VIVA Volunteers (Visitor Information Visitors Assistance). Police officers will be patrolling in various methods including bicycles, enduro motorcycles, and by horse.
Travel safely in Las Vegas
Las Vegas can be a very safe experience for tourists. Between following the safety tips above, the safety measures put in place by the city and businesses, and PalAmerican providing security services to many Las Vegas businesses, the combined commitment to tourist safety should offer some comfort when booking your trip.
Photo by David Vives on Unsplash