Keeping safe in Las Vegas

How to stay safe while you're having fun

— Staff Writer

Las Vegas is a memorable city filled with entertainment and attractions. Tourists come from around the world to gamble, relax, and enjoy the great food and shows. But this can attract a bad element. And when you’re a bit inebriated, with your guard down, that can make you a target for criminals and scammers who are looking to part unwitting travelers from their wallets.

Despite the glitz and glamour, Las Vegas is still a city, with all of the issues that come with urban living. Some of the poverty surrounding the Strip and Downtown is host to gang violence and other troubles, which can affect visitors if they are not too careful.

With a little thought you can avoid the obvious mistakes. So here are a few tips to keep safe when you visit Sin City.

Is Las Vegas a safe city?

Now that we’ve scared you, we can start by saying Las Vegas is a safe city that takes great care to protect locals and tourists. Travelers are quite safe, and some consider the casinos and hotels to be among the world’s safest places for tourists. Even the Strip is regularly patrolled, with safety barriers, police, and security close by.

The wolf pack down on their luck, from The Hangover (2009)
They cannot know they have yet to make their biggest mistake The Hangover Part III. I give this scene 5/5. Image: The Hangover (2009)

Violent crime rates are lower than those of Los Angeles and many other big cities. Property crime rates are also lower than those of other West Coast cities, including both San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Overall, though, Las Vegas does have a higher crime rate than the national average. There are a lot of people that come to Las Vegas, and this raises certain statistics. But even so, the regular visitor shouldn’t have a problem.

Here’s how we recommend you keep safe while enjoying your stay in Las Vegas.

Quick tips for staying safe in Las Vegas

The best way to keep safe, is to stay in safe areas. Know which neighborhoods and areas of Las Vegas to visit, and which to avoid. Although the city does its best to reduce crime and violence, gangs are still active in certain areas, especially in those near the Strip and Downtown. Your best bet is to keep where there are plenty of people, and don’t wander off down poorly trafficked roads, or past empty lots.

Avoid most dangers by traveling in a safe manner. Las Vegas has taxis, Uber, and Lyft. But we also have an excellent Monorail that maintains strict safety measures and connects much of the city for a low fare. If you are driving, stay alert and vigilant when you park, especially in parking structures. There is also a new, super cheap shuttle service called Trip to Strip. Use the app, and catch a ride at many local bus stops.

Avoid street vendors and beggars in Las Vegas, and never buy water or VIP passes. Scammers are very active and prey on tourists. Feel free to drink alcohol, but drink responsibly, and never leave your drink unattended.

Las Vegas: what to visit, and what to avoid

The Strip, lined by casinos, restaurants, and grand hotels, is a relatively safe place to enjoy yourself, and will be where most spend their time. Families should feel at ease here, especially during the day. But the scene can get a little rougher in the early morning hours. Expect to smell a bit of pot smoke once the sun goes down.

Las Vegas has a strong interest in keeping the Strip tourist-friendly, so it is very well lit, with security cameras, and even anti-terrorism bollards. The glitzier parts of Las Vegas Boulevard are closely patrolled by police, and even casino security are close at hand.

However, off the Strip, things can be a bit rougher. Side streets are dark at night, and can be unsafe, especially north of the Encore resort where there is ample construction and empty lots, as well as low-income residents.

According to police, near the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and near McCarran International Airport, there has been a recent rise in car break-ins, theft, and vandalism. If you travel here, try to use your judgment in choosing a place to park.

Berkley Square is another dangerous area, with drug related crime. The area near H and Doolittle streets, and parts of Balzar Avenue are to be avoided.

How to Get Around Safely in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a safe city to travel if you’re comfortable taking shuttles, monorails, and hired cars. If you are driving, casino and hotel parking lots are safe, but many are no longer free to park.

We always recommend using the Las Vegas Monorail if it fits your destination. It is a fun and safe way to get around the Strip, and the five-day pass is a great deal. But be careful because the magnetic strip tends to fail, and you may need to have the attendant issue you a new ticket after a few days of use. There are active cameras on each train and at every station, so it is rare for there to be any violence. Most likely, it would be from rowdy and intoxicated tourists, but that is rare.

In addition, all stations have dedicated security officers.

The local bus system is also fairly reliable and safe, and incidents are very rare. But we do not recommend it for regular use, as they can be dirty.

Uber and Lyft are also very popular options in Las Vegas, much to the ire of local taxi drivers. Rideshare drivers are required to pass a vehicle inspection to drive in Las Vegas, but if you don’t have phone or internet service, you may have difficulty getting your ride on the way back.

Uber has also added a 911 button to its app, as well as the ability to share the progress of your ride with others if you experience any safety concerns.

Common Las Vegas scams

With so many tourists, the scammers have had a lot of practice, and know just how to free a few dollars from the naive traveler. Las Vegas actually is host to a number of interesting and colorful operators, so be on the guard. Don’t buy bottled water from unlicensed sellers. Often, street vendors will sell used water bottles that have been refilled with tap water, or worse.

VIP passes are also a popular scam, and provide only what you would get for free from clubs. True VIP passes cost a lot, and are purchased from ticket sellers, or from off the club sites.

Betting games outside of casinos, such as three-card monte, are also scams. These unregulated games will cheat you of your money.

Also, walking the Strip, you will frequently encounter Buddhist monks soliciting donations for their temples. These are also scammers. They are not monks, may not even be Buddhist, and will go back to their apartments with your money.

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Staff Writer

Hi! I'm a staff writer for Way to Vegas.