If you plan to experience this remarkable city, don’t be dazzled by the lights and make sure you keep a cool head as the fun starts. Las Vegas is a great place to visit, but there are traps for the unwary.
It’s not just the casinos and shopping malls that can leave you short of cash! There are also a variety of opportunistic crooks, as we have found through many of our customers’ claims.
Craig Morrison, CEO of Southern Cross Travel Insurance, says that given its ‘Sin City’ nickname it’s little wonder that some of the 39 million annual visitors to Las Vegas each year become victims of crime. He also points out that some of the most frequent crimes are preventable.
“Vegas is one of those places where people can get ‘dazzled by the lights’ or ‘caught up in the fun’, and abandon their usual ‘common sense’. Just like anywhere you go, you need to keep your wits about you. In particular, I’d suggest people be really careful about carrying unreasonable amounts of money on them, flashing notes around, or counting money publicly - especially if they’ve had a win at the casino,” says Morrison. “And whatever you do, don’t put it in your back pocket!”
An all-too-frequent type of claim SCTI receives from a post-party town trip is for theft of personal items from hotel rooms.
“You’d be surprised at the number of claims we see from travellers who, having invited someone back to their hotel room, wake up in the morning having been totally cleaned out; wallet, camera, phone and computer.”
SCTI policies don’t cover claims incurred as a result of people unknown to the policyholder being invited back to the policyholder’s accommodation, or the policyholder visiting the accommodation of someone they don’t know.
Another way of looking at it, says Morrison, is that travel insurance is intended to cover unexpected events. “If you invite someone back to your accommodation, they are your guest and you are responsible for them. If you don’t know them well enough or don’t supervise them and they steal your property, it can’t properly be considered an unexpected event.”
Morrison says other victims have been left incapacitated after their drink has been spiked to the point where they can’t remember the events surrounding the loss.
“I know that drink spiking in Vegas sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood movie but it does happen. Unfortunately we’re also seeing this occurring a lot more frequently in other locations like Thailand too.”
The most common tourist crime in Las Vegas however is pick pocketing and Morrison urges travellers to be mindful of their belongings and surroundings, especially in crowded places such as queues for shows, buffets, luggage carousels, taxi ranks and public transport.
“Las Vegas is a truly remarkable city to visit. Just keep your wits about you. A good rule of thumb is to remember that a stranger who delays you either wants something, or wants you to go somewhere.”
Tips for staying safe in Las Vegas
- Watch your drink at all times.
- Do not go anywhere alone with someone you’ve just met – no matter how nice they seem - stay in public places.
- Be on the lookout for anyone being your friend just after you won some money.
- Don’t bet outside a casino.
- Watch out for the ‘distract and grab’ hustle, it’s a common casino trick. One thief tosses a couple of coins or chips on the floor and asks you whether they are yours. While you bend over to check, the thief’s partner grabs a bucket of coins or lifts a fistful of chips.
- If you are gambling and happen to win big, exchange the money for travellers cheques or put it in the hotel safe at the front desk.