Recently we had a lady plow her car through a pack of tourists on the Las Vegas Strip, killing one and sending many to the hospital (link). As always, that starts the discussion boards chattering with fear mongers asking about just how safe is the Las Vegas Strip for tourists? Especially right before a major holiday?
The Answer: The Las Vegas Strip is always one of the safest tourist corridors in the nation. The problem is that Las Vegas, especially the Strip is always getting media coverage because of its popularity and its history. You also have millions of tourist in a small area documenting their every move online; “Look, an Elvis sighting” – “Oh, a buffet” and other amusing photos and updates occur every second of the day here. So when something tragic happens in Las Vegas, in the tourist corridor, it usually goes viral on social media.
When you think about the Las Vegas Strip and compare it to other tourist corridors, what other tourist area has thousands of people walking it every hour of every day, literally carrying thousands of dollars of cash on them? It’s Vegas. As tourist and professional gamblers go from one casino to the next, loaded with cash and other valuables, you would think they would be sitting targets for thieves and bandits. But they are not. They walk the Strip in relative safety because they know it’s well protected.
To be honest, when I think about the people walking the strip loaded with cash, I also remind myself that they are also most likely packing some heat. We have a very liberal conceal carry law here and with that much money floating around, people naturally protect themselves. So I think knowing that also puts the fear of God or 72 virgins into the minds of some would-be thieves.
Stand on almost any corner on the Strip. Look up. See the blinking on the light pole? Look closer. See the cameras? Walk onto any casino property and consider yourself on camera anytime except the bathrooms and your hotel room. The Bellagio, it is said, has over 8,000 cameras installed on property. These places don’t have just ordinary security cameras. Nothing is ordinary in Las Vegas. Pull your car up front of a hotel valet and some of the cameras under the porte-cochere can probably read the school name off your class ring!
Las Vegas security is enhanced because with 40 million tourists coming here annually, we are the testing grounds for declassified military surveillance equipment before it is released to the general public. Not to mention the many retired government police and Military security people who work for the hotel’s security departments are well-trained in what to look for and how to make threats vanish instantly. If you are the maker of surveillance equipment, where else would you want to burn in and test your most cutting edge technology but a place that is live 24 hours a day with action and activity??
Cameras and sensors are just one part of the security. The bike patrols and people walking around are the other. From my years as a chauffeur and for general research for this website, I have been told that most of the security force on the Strip is under cover. You do not even see them. Do something stupid on the Strip and suddenly you will find yourself being chased by a bike patrol that came from nowhere and will chase you into the hotel.
Have you ever been at a Black Jack table, next to a person being rude, obnoxious or just too fidgety for your own good? Security noticed. One minute he is there, the next minute he is gone. Because of all the noises and distractions, you never noticed he was suddenly removed through a back panel or false wall.
Personal Opinion? I would rather be busted by Metro Police than from Hotel Security. Just too many stories out there about backrooms without cameras that have some very slippery floors!
The incident last night happened right near a posted collection of metro officers and hotel security people. So they had the scene contained in minutes. Last summer there was a pool fire at the Cosmopolitan that was quickly put out because the fire department is right underneath the hotel. We are prepared for it.
What’s To Worry?
Now I am not saying to be lazy about your personal protection. Las Vegas police are not your nanny. Keep your guard up, be aware of your surroundings, don’t be too stupid, it’s a busy town. Just don’t go into panic mode because you saw something on the news about Las Vegas, an accident on the Strip and someone being killed. It’s not an everyday occurrence, it’s just magnified because of the significance of the location.
What I do warn my tour guests about besides the porn peddlers and the timeshare hustlers, is people pickpocketing. That’s what you have to watch out for. They usually work in teams and can open your backpack as you are walking and remove just about everything out of it before you realize they were there. Why are they not caught? Usually, because they work in pairs. A man and a woman. If you saw a man walking the strip while digging into a woman’s backpack, you would think they were a couple. So you ignore them. I have seen it happen and I have done it myself to prove my point to my tour group.
So we may make fun of the tourists wearing those ugly black fanny packs on, but as long as they are worn up front, they are being pretty smart about it. If you carry a backpack or case, put a lock on it when you are out and about. Anything that would stall a thief from getting into it. The worst are the people who put their bags, purses and coats over the back of the chairs when they sit down to gamble. That’s just screaming for someone to rob you.
As a Vegas local who spends a lot of his time on the Las Vegas Strip, I can tell you not to freak out every time you see the news about Las Vegas. Anything Las Vegas related is great for news ratings. With as many tourists as we have in that small four miles of roadway, it’s a very safe area. Just be aware, be smart and enjoy your Vegas vacation.