Visiting Los Angeles

As evidenced by the 35 million tourists that visit Los Angeles each year, L.A. is known throughout the world as a safe, clean, and exciting premier vacation destination. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, in comparing cities with over 250,000 residents, Los Angeles has recorded the largest decline in crime of any major American city. For the first six months of 1997, the report indicated crime had decreased by six percent, making Los Angeles the fifth safest city with population over one million in the United States.

The Los Angeles Police Department wants tourists who frequent this City to have a safe, trouble free visit. Los Angeles invites tourists to enjoy all attractions the City has to offer. However, in any major metropolitan city there are basic crime prevention tips tourists should know.

The Los Angeles Police Department offers the following travel and tourist crime prevention tips. This information is meant to contribute to the personal security of tourists while traveling in the City of Los Angeles. You can never be too careful, too prepared or too aware. Following these crime prevention tips can help protect tourists against the occasional pitfalls that can occur, even to the most experienced traveler.


Preparing your home before you leave

Crime prevention begins at home by assuring that it is protected during your trip. Making your home appear as if you never left is the key to crime prevention. The Los Angeles Police Department offers the following suggestions to protect your home while you are away.

  • Never give out information over the phone indicating dates and times you will be away
  • Notify a trusted neighbor regarding the duration of your travel plans and leave a key in case of an emergency
  • Notify the post office to stop your mail delivery or ask a neighbor to collect the mail for you on a daily basis
  • Arrange to have your property maintained (i.e. grass mowed, snow shoveled, newspapers and mail collected or stopped)
  • Keep the shades and blinds in their normal positions
  • Make your home appear and sound occupied by placing timers on your household lights and a radio to turn on and off at appropriate times
  • Store all valuable items in a secure location
  • Activate your home alarm
  • Assure that all the doors and windows are locked
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway and place garbage cans on curb on garbage collection days
  • Ask your local police department if they offer a “Vacation Check” program. If one is offered, indicate dates of departure and return, which rooms have timed lights and which neighbor has a key

Preparing for your trip

Preparing for your trip requires planning. Where to go, where to stay and how you will get around are only a few decisions you will need to make. In addition, you will have to decide what you will take with you. The following tips are designed to assist you in preparing for a safe trip.

  • Maintain a record of your passport, credit card, travelers check numbers, and any plane, train, or bus ticket numbers. Give a copy of the list to a family member or a friend for safekeeping
  • Clean out your purse and/or wallet and only take the essential documents you will need
  • To avoid confusion or misdirection of your luggage, remove old flight tags
  • Placing a band, strap or tie around luggage, or a seal on the zipper is an effective deterrent against theft
  • Place a piece of paper with your name and itinerary inside each bag. This will make identification easier if your baggage ID tag is lost
  • Whenever possible, plan to use traveler’s checks instead of cash
  • Pack lightly. This will avoid slowing you down and making you less vulnerable to becoming a victim of a crime
  • Carry your purse or wallet close to your body. Fanny packs or money pouches beneath your clothing are always preferable
  • Pack items in inconspicuous luggage. Expensive, designer luggage can draw unnecessary attention
  • Never store cash, jewelry, medicine or other valuables in your luggage
  • Keep all valuables, including prescription medication in a carry-on that stays with you

Airport safety tips

Your experience at the airport need not be unpleasant. By taking the proper precautions and being alert to your surroundings, you can avoid becoming a victim of potential crime. The following airport safety tips will assist you in making your airport visit safe.

Arriving at the airport:

  • If you park at the airport, make sure you take your parking ticket with you
  • Carry cash, medicine or jewelry on the plane with you
  • Close your vehicle windows completely, lock all doors, activate any anti-theft devices and take the keys with you
  • Record serial numbers of expensive auto accessories

Ticket counter and Screening Checkpoint:

  • Be prepared to show photo identification
  • Expect questioning about your luggage and hand searches of any carry-on items. Toys resembling weapons will be confiscated
  • Watch your baggage and personal affects while at the counter. Clever thieves are well skilled at taking bags while travelers are busy checking in
  • At the screening checkpoint, wait until you reach the metal detectors before placing your items, especially your laptop on the x-ray belt, so that they are only out of your sight for the least amount of time possible. Then walk through and pick up your items immediately

Inside the Terminal:

  • Beware of distractions. Keep an eye on your baggage at all times. Never leave it unattended, even for a brief moment
  • Do not accept packages from strangers or ask strangers to watch your belongings
  • Be alert to possible pickpocket tactics, such as jostling or bumping victims or creating a diversion
  • Avoid displaying large amounts of cash when making purchases
  • When making phone calls or using the automatic teller machine, be aware of your surrounding and shield your Personal Identification Number (PIN) while entering it
  • If necessary, while waiting, place any belongings between your feet

Aboard the Aircraft:

  • Take your purse or wallet with you when you leave your seat
  • Refrain from making any jokes about security issues. Remarks about bombs or violent action will be taken seriously, and could lead to arrest
  • Make sure you have all your items before you leave the plane

For emergencies while at LAX:

  • Call 9-1-1 OR
  • Los Angeles Police Department Airport Detail
    310-646-2255 OR
  • Department of Airports Police Bureau

For non-emergencies while at LAX contact:

  • Los Angeles Police Department Airport Detail
    310-646-2255 OR
  • Department of Airports Police Bureau

For Department of Airports Police Bureau Lost and Found:
Monday – Friday
5:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

LAX SubStation
802 World Way
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Public Transportation Safety Tips

Getting around the Los Angeles Metropolitan area can be easily done by using public transportation. As one of the largest cities in the nation, Los Angeles has a variety of means of public transportation options available to the public. Visitors can easily access taxis, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) buses, vans, limousine services and/or the metrolink system. In order to decrease crime, the use of public transportation requires precaution. Arriving safely at your destination can be made possible by taking proper measures.

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Use only recognized ground transportation services available at authorized bus, van, limousines and taxi pick-up points
  • Be wary of solicitors offering alleged low cost service. It may turn out to be unreliable, expensive and uninsured
  • Los Angeles taxicabs must bear the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation seal on the doors
  • Do not display large amounts of cash, expensive jewelry, cameras, bag or other items that may draw attention
  • If you carry a purse or shoulder bag, make certain in it securely closed and hold it in front of you and/or close to your body
  • Do not advertise you are a tourist, identify the location you want to visit and check maps thoroughly before you go out
  • Always wait in well-lit areas
  • Try and wait near other people
  • If anyone bothers you, make noise so others can hear
  • When riding buses, sit in an aisle seat and if possible near the driver
  • When riding taxis, have the driver wait until you’re safely inside
  • If confronted by an aggressive individual to relinquish your property, do not resist. Your belongings are not worth your life or serious injury

Renting a vehicle:

  • Plan in advance and carry a map
  • Travel on well-lighted, populated roadways whenever possible
  • Keep doors locked and windows rolled up in traffic, especially at stoplights and leave sufficient room between you and the car in front of you. If someone suspicious approaches your vehicle at a red light or stop sign, blow the horn
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of Los Angeles Community Police Stations
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times to ensure you are not being followed. If you suspect you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station
  • Do not pull over for flashing headlights. An emergency or police vehicle has red or blue flashing lights
  • Keep valuables out of sight, they only invite theft. Do not leave valuables on the seat or in the glovebox. Although the vehicle’s trunk is not completely secure, it is the safest place to store your valuables while traveling
  • Avoid transferring items to the trunk of the vehicle at location where it is parked, someone may be watching you
  • Do not draw attention to yourself by leaving tourist maps on the seat
  • If you have car trouble in a secluded area, open the hood, and turn on your emergency flashers, then stay in your car and lock the doors and window. If someone offers to help, ask them to call the police or the nearest service station
  • If you are involved in a minor fender bender in a secluded area, do not get out of your car. Instead motion to the other driver to follow you to the nearest police station, a well lit business area, or any other location you feel secure
  • When driving instead of placing your purse and packages on the seat where it is easily visible, place them on the vehicle’s floor
  • When walking to your vehicle, have your keys ready in your hand
  • Park your car in a well-lit, busy spot
  • Always take your parking lot ticket with you. Leaving it in the vehicle allows thieves to exit the parking lot without being challenged
  • Always check your vehicle before entering to ensure no one is hiding inside
  • Record the make, model, year, color and license number of the vehicle. Keep this information in a safe place. This will assist in locating the vehicle if it is lost, stolen or impounded
  • Ensure the vehicle you rent is nondescript. The exterior of the vehicle should be free of rental agency decal, stickers, or other company logos. These visuals cues can alert criminals to your visitor/tourist status.
  • Never leave the motor running without you in the car. It is unsafe as well as a traffic violation

Lodging Safety Tips

Accommodations vary widely in Los Angeles. From the City’s most affordable to its most exclusive lodging facilities, taking the proper precautionary measures is a wise thing to do, regardless of its location or ratings. Below are a few suggestions to make your stay in L.A. safe and secure.

  • Do not leave your luggage unattended. Check your baggage with the staff if you cannot go to your room immediately
  • If a front desk clerk mentions your room number loudly, request a new room and tell the clerk not to give out your room number
  • Do not enter the room if the door is ajar
  • If you are a woman traveling alone, you may consider asking for an escort to your room or vehicle
  • Check behind the curtains, under the bed, in the bathroom, shower, and closets to make sure no one is hiding in the room
  • Locate fire exits, elevators, and public phones. Know the best way to get out of the building in an emergency
  • Use all interior auxiliary locking devices. If additional security is desired, purchase a portable travel lock
  • Never automatically open your door. If your door has a peephole, use it. Prior to opening your door, always know the identity of the caller. Hotel employees should have identification. If you have doubts or questions, telephone the front desk for verification
  • Leave valuables and important papers, such as jewelry and passports, secured in your hotel’s safe deposit box, not in your room or luggage. Always keep cash, credit cards, and keys with you
  • Check your belongings daily. Arrange your possessions so that you will know immediately if something is missing
  • Be observant. Report any suspicious activity to the management
  • Never sit in the room with the door propped open. Do not leave the door open for any length of time, even if you are just going to the ice machine
  • If someone is loitering in the hall near your room, do not enter your room. Go directly to the front desk and report it
  • Never invite strangers to your room, no matter how helpful or charming they appear
  • When you leave your room in the evening, turn on a light and leave a radio or television on to make it seem that the room is occupied
  • Always pull the door shut by hand and double check it
  • When retiring for the evening, make sure your key is not outside in the door lock

When you go out…

It is important to remember that tourists make tempting targets for thieves. Unsuspecting travelers can attract crime when they appear lost and distracted, are weighed down with packages and are carrying cameras, plane tickets, money, and other valuables. The following tips may assist you when you go ‘out and about.’

  • Make note of your passport number and other important documents. If they become lost, this will facilitate getting replacements with fewer problems
  • Prior to your day of sightseeing, obtain directions at the hotel for those attractions you intend to visit. Never discuss your sightseeing schedule in the presence of strangers. When possible, travel with another person while sightseeing or shopping. During the evening, always travel on well-lighted streets
  • Learn about and be aware of your surroundings. Ask the hotel/motel desk clerk, concierge or bell staff about problem area to avoid
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash. Use travelers checks or credit cards whenever possible
  • If you must carry large amounts of cash, there are several varieties of money belts and ankle wallets that can be purchased. Never carry your wallet in your rear pants pocket, front pants or jacket pocket is advisable. Women should carry their billfold or coin purse in a coat pocket. If you must carry a purse, firmly grasp the top portion of the purse while shopping, waiting for, or riding a bus
  • Avoid flashing your cash. This is a signal to potential robbers
  • Keep pocketbooks on your lap when dining out, not dangling over the back of a chair. Avoid placing pocketbooks on hooks on the back of a fitting room or bathroom door, where someone can easily reach over and remove them
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch for suspicious people or vehicles. When driving, keep your vehicle doors locked at all times and windows rolled up. Keep your vehicle and house keys on separate key rings (valet keys).
  • Never pick up hitchhikers
  • Pickpockets usually work in teams of two or three people. Always be aware of possible distractions staged by a pickpocket team. Pickpockets may drop something in front of you, or cause a loud commotion near you, as a distraction. Once distracted, the other pickpocket steals your valuables and walks away
  • If you are jostled, bumped, or crowded by anyone, consider that a pickpocket may be in action. If your pocket is picked, call out immediately for assistance and warn others

Important things to know in Los Angeles

Below are some of the basic laws you will need to know as a tourist in California.

  • If there are no signs posted, the maximum speed is 25 miles per hour on city streets and 65 miles per hour on the freeways
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts in a private vehicle
  • You many turn right after stopping at a red light unless a sign says otherwise
  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way in cross walks
  • Drunken driving laws are strictly enforced. A Blood Alcohol level of .08 or higher is over the legal limit in California
  • Open containers of alcoholic beverages are not permitted in vehicles or in public view
  • Be sure to read carefully all signs that say what days or hours you may park. Illegally parked vehicles get tickets very quickly and may be towed away
  • A red curb means no parking. A green cub means parking for a very limited time. A white curb is for loading and unloading of passengers only and a yellow curb is for 20 minute loading zone
  • Parking is generally available in lots or garages. Prices vary widely
  • The minimum age for purchasing alcohol is 21. Proof of age is required. Liquor may not be purchased, served or consumed in public establishments between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Call boxes with free phones are placed every half mile along the major LA freeways for emergencies


For further tourist information visit:

National Crime Prevention Council

Los Angeles Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
685 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012