Like all large cities, some parts of Los Angeles are safer than others. For the most part, tourist areas are reasonably safe, meaning if you use common sense, you can avoid becoming a victim of crime.
At your hotel
- Do not travel with more valuables than can fit in a small hotel safe.
- If you’re carrying expensive camera or video equipment that won’t fit in the safe, consider carrying it in something other than a standard camera box, or putting the camera box in an ordinary backpack or soft-sided cooler.
- If you are running out of time and leaving valuables in your room, leave the TV on and leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Leave a light on too if you go out at night.
- Please do not leave extra copies of the room key in the room when you leave.
- Use the extra latches provided to secure the door when inside the room.
- If someone comes to the door claiming to be hotel staff and has not specifically requested, ask for identification and call and confirm with reception before letting them in.
- Don’t allow strangers into your room, no matter how friendly they are.
- Make sure the door is closed when you close it and don’t forget your key in the lock.
In his car
- Keep it locked, whether you’re in it or leaving it parked.
- Do not leave luggage, wallets, shopping bags, GPS or other electronic devices or anything in sight.
- If you’re driving an SUV or hatchback without a luggage cover, bring a blanket or invest a couple of dollars in a windshield umbrella that you can throw over anything you need to leave in the car. Since folding fabric or cardboard sunshades are standard equipment for most Los Angeles drivers, they look low-key and can cover a lot of things. If you have two, you can use one as a sunshade and one as a luggage cover.
Out and about
Although it is not as bad as other countries, you still have to watch out for pickpockets in crowded tourist areas.
- Just carry as much cash as you need for a couple of days. In LA you can pay for most things with credit or debit cards and ATMs (ATMs) are everywhere.
- Don’t carry all your money in one place.
- Do not carry wallets or cash in an outside pocket of clothing, purses, or backpacks.
- Make sure bags and backpacks are securely closed. Carry bags under your arm, close to your body.
- Keep some form of identification with you at all times.
- Make copies of your ID and credit cards and email them to an email address that you can access from any computer. That way, if they get lost or stolen, you can still provide a copy to the authorities and call to cancel your credit cards. Carry photocopies of your passport in different places.
- Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. If someone makes you uncomfortable for any reason, stay away from them.
- Pickpockets usually work in groups of two or three. If you are pushed or hit, consider that a pickpocket may be in action and check your valuables. If you choose your pocket, call right away for help.
- Don’t hang your purse on the back of a chair in a restaurant or other public place.
- Do not leave valuables in the pockets of a coat that you search.
- Most museums require you to check backpacks, so don’t carry valuables in a backpack if you go to a museum.
- There are many homeless people in Los Angeles. Whether you feel inclined to give them money is up to you, but a polite “I’m sorry, I can’t help you” is usually enough to get someone to leave you alone. Since some of the homeless are mentally ill or addicted, being rude or cruel to them is not helpful, and could put you at unnecessary risk.
In discos and bars
- Always carry identification.
- Carry enough cash to get home by taxi and carry the number of the local taxi company.
- Have a rideshare app on your smartphone so you can pay for a ride with your phone if needed.
- Women should carry a bag small enough to use and not leave it unattended.
- Don’t accept a drink from a stranger unless you see the waiter pour it or open it.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended.
- Do not drink beyond your awareness of what is going on around you.
- There is generally a minimum dollar amount to use a credit card. Try to avoid running a tab as they hold your credit card until it closes for the night and many people have access to the cards.
- Do not get into arguments with strangers or confront each other. People go crazy when they drink and you don’t want to spend a night in jail for being in a bar fight.
Beware of Hollywood scams
If someone tells you they are a Hollywood producer / director / casting agent or talent scout, and they think you would make a great actor / model, they could be real or they could rip you off. How can you tell the difference?
- Never go with someone who approaches you like that, unless you really want to be a porn star, or they are filming right there on the sidewalk.
- If you recognize the person as Steven Spielberg or some other famous director, it is probably real.
- If you have no idea who it is, ask for a business card.
- Tell them that you want to make an appointment to meet at their office so that you can bring your parents / spouse / boyfriend / girlfriend / lawyer to the meeting. If they are serious, they should be fine with you bringing a chaperone of your choice.
- Do an internet search for his name. If they really are in the industry, they should appear on www.IMDB.com or be listed with an agency. If they don’t appear, you can probably throw the card away.
- Beware of pseudo-talent agencies who want to charge you or your child an upfront fee to be represented by them, or who require you to pay for modeling classes.
- Be careful to go only to any random auditions or photoshoots that are not set up through a legitimate agency. Never go to a place where you don’t feel comfortable. There are legitimate people out there scouting for talent, but make sure you tell someone (even if it’s the hotel desk clerk) exactly where you’re going, and let the person you’re meeting know that people know where you are.