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Watch Your Cash When in Vegas

While Las Vegas casinos are among the safest tourist destinations in the world, Las Vegas still has the same types of crime found in any major city. In addition, with so many people walking around with money, you are also more likely to get something stolen. Here are some tips to keep safe on your Vegas trip.

  • Vegas is a mecca for pickpockets. Don’t make it easy for them. Keeping a thick rubber band around a wallet makes it more difficult for a pickpocket to slip it out. A wallet is much safer in a front pocket than in the back.
  • Slot-machine players should keep their cash winnings as credits in the machine until they are ready to cash out. This reduces the chance of your winnings ticket to be stolen. If you’re lucky enough to win a substantial payout, ask the casino to give you a cashier’s check instead of hard currency.
  • Purses should keep them on laps rather than on the floor or any place that a thief can easily grab it. It is best to just not carry a purse when gambling and keep everything in your pocket. Some casinos have special hooks that slide under the armrest at a blackjack table. Players can wrap the strap of a purse around the hook and have their bags in front of them. Ask the casino if they have them.
  • If chips begin to pile up, exchange them for a higher denomination and put them away in a secure place. You don’t need to show off your winnings to a potential thief.
  • Consider investing in a travel blazer that has special zippered inside pockets. They’re made for both men and women and found in travel-wear shops.
  • If you carry a backpack, consider getting one that is slash-proof. These are available online and in speciality stores.
  • Avoid all betting games outside the casinos, like three card-monte shell games. These are not regulated and often scams that you can never win. You may see people winning, but they are usually actors working with the scam.
  • Never take your eyes off your chips at the gaming tables. Thieves may try to distract you, such as dropping a few coins around you so you look down.
  • When your luggage is in your possession, treat it as if it were gold. Never leave these items unattended.
  • Carry travelers checks, instead of large amounts of cash. Only carry what you will need for the day (or evening). Leave all your valuables, such as credit cards, jewelry or airline tickets, in the room safe. Write down your traveler check and credit card numbers and place this information in your room safe.
  • Be alert. If you are in a crowded area, carry your purse (or wallet) close to you and keep a firm grip on it. Do not leave purses (handbags or cameras) on the back of chairs, under tables or restroom hooks.
  • Keep track of your hotel key. You may want to return your key to the front desk while you are out. Close your hotel room securely, even if you are going for ice. Ask a security officer to escort you to your room if you have lost your key.
  • Only use automatic teller machines in well-lighted areas of the hotel you are staying in. Walk in pairs or groups whenever possible.
  • Make sure your family or friends have contact numbers for you while you are in the Las Vegas area. Keep in touch with them and tell them where you are going.
  • Look for the VIVA patrol if you need directions or other assistance. The VIVA Patrol (Visitor Information, Visitor Assistance) is part of the LVMPDs volunteer program. VIVA members wear bright yellow shirts with the VIVA logo as well as caps and can be found walking in pairs along the Strip, Fremont Street and McCarran International Airport.
  • Stay alert and trust your instincts. If you see suspicious people loitering near your hotel room or car, do not approach or confront them . Report any suspicious activity to the hotel, a police officer, a security officer, or hotel staff member immediately.
  • In crowded areas or in situations where crowds are expected (such as show lines, buffet area, bus stops, baggage carousel, etc.) be aware of your valuables. Keep your purse or luggage close to your body. In situations as these, it may be wise to carry any cash in your front pocket or use a secured “fanny pack.”
  • If you are vacationing with young children, the same rules apply. Instruct them to never talk to strangers or open doors without first knowing who it is. Make sure they know the name of the hotel, the phone and room number. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department does use a 9-1-1 system, so be sure your children are familiar with it in case they become lost or separated.
  • Don’t trust your hotel safe to keep important valuables. Thieves or even a disgruntled maid can learn how to open the hotel safe after you lock it. In some cases they are able to use a backup method provided by the safe manufacturer in case a person forgets their combination. Just use it to keep things you can afford to lose. If you have something of great value that you need stored, consider keeping it with the front desk.
  • Stay away from shady neighborhoods and dark alleys. If you don’t see a lot of people around, it is best to avoid an area. Trust your instincts. In general, as you go more north, things can get sketchy in terms of crime, especially north of Encore Las Vegas towards Stratosphere hotel. It is best to take a cab if you plan to go through that neighborhood. Downtown Las Vegas used to be a problem area, but has recently improved. However, you still need to be careful if you see areas without many people.

    Use your common sense. Pay attention to how you feel about the area. Some clues to a potentially sketchy area might include streets with weekly hotel rentals, streets named after a number or letter, lots of money and title loan centers, bail bond stores, broken street lights, seeing home furniture near the street, homeless people, lots of trash everywhere, shopping carts, people hanging around their porch during the day, cages on doors and windows, locks on unexpected items, tents, broken glass in parking lots from thefts, boarded or burned down houses, and industrial areas with factories.