Las Vegas is a metropolitan area that has all of the safety issues that any large city must cope with.  Las Vegas is also a city unlike any other in that so many of the day-to-day transactions involved with the primary commerce of Las Vegas: Gambling.

With the huge amounts of cash come additional threats to safety.  While casinos and hotels have a strong interest in making sure patrons are safe and secure, it is paramount to keep in mind that an individual's safety depends on being aware of his or her environment.  Counting your money as you walk down the Strip, for example, is one sure way to attract unwanted attention.  Avoid discussing your room number loudly in public. You do not want to advertise where you will be taking that latest jackpot.  Try to remember all of the things you would do in your hometown to stay safe, such as avoiding walking to your car alone at night or flashing large amounts of cash in public, and you should be fine.  If you are lucky and score a big win, think about taking your winnings in a check rather than as cash; if you must have cash, feel free to request a security escort to your car or room; most casino hotels are more than willing to help their guests feel secure.  When you are in public, always be aware of your belongings, particularly when you are playing at the tables or at a slot machine; purse snatchings and pickpocketing are some of the most common crimes.

A further issue to keep in mind is the effect all of those free drinks have on casino patrons.  After a few too many drinks and one too many losing hands of blackjack, drunken shouting matches are a little more common than in most other places.  Avoid being a referee in such encounters; leave it to security to handle the disagreement, they get paid for it.  Generally, you can count on a safe and friendly experience when you visit Las Vegas, but you will be that much more satisfied if you take common sense precautions to ensure your safety.

Another safety issue in Vegas, particularly on "the Strip" is pedestrian safety. Pedestrians should  cross only in crosswalks where designated, and only upon signal.  Do not walk or stand at the edge of the curb.  There are more pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas than most people realize - and in a duel between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the pedestrian does not come out on top.  If driving in Vegas, watch out for pedestrians who do not follow the law.  The lack of sleep, free drinks, even the sights and lights seem to affect some pedestrian's judgment.

Let’s flash forward to a rare but unfortunate event that happens to tourists in Las Vegas, you have been robbed.   Maybe a pickpocket visited you at the Fountains, maybe your purse took a walk while you were playing the slots or maybe your valuables were accidentally “thrown out” by housekeeping, (jewlery wrapped in a tissue and left out will look like trash and can be tossed out in the trash).   Whatever happened, you are now in a pretty pickle.   All of your credit cards, cash, perhaps even your house keys are gone and just how are you going to get on an airplane to go home without that picture ID?   Looking back from this unfortunate perspective to when you packed for the trip, you might have done things a little differently.

Look at your wallet or purse, look at the stuff you carry around each day.   What, if anything in there, will you really need in Las Vegas?   Photo ID(s), credit card(s), ATM card, health insurance card - YES.   Your work ID, your local library card, that card reminding you of your next dental appointment - NO.   Leave that stuff at home.

Now start two piles.   If you have 2 photo IDs that will get you onto the plane, take them both.   Put one in one pile and the other in the second pile.   Credit cards, one in each pile but first note the card number and the phone number to call to cancel each card, a great way to do this is just to photocopy the back of the cards. Your call on where to put the health insurance card, house keys and the ATM card.   Keep the piles in seperate places, more about that later.

Cash - Las Vegas runs on cash.  So how much will you bring?  You might ration yourself to so much a day and leave the rest in a secure place, maybe seperated by day.  This serves two purposes: (1) If you don’t have it in your pocket you won’t spend it and (2) it cannot be stolen from your pocket if it is not there.   This also gives you a fresh start each day.   Travelers checks can be cashed at most casinos and hotel and used at most stores.   Keep track of the numbers of the checks and keep that list away from the checks.   ATM cards can be used at ATM machines all around town but the machines at the casinos charge ruinous rates.   If you go the ATM route, you might to see if your bank has a branch near where you will be in Las Vegas and just go there.

So you have the IDs in 2 stacks and maybe a number of envelopes of cash marked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. what to do next?  Use small wallets or ID holders in lieu of a regular wallet.  Put a picture ID, a credit card and that day’s cash in your pocket and the rest in a secure place, the zippered inside pocket of a jacket or carry on bag or even stuffed in a sock.  Never in checked luggage.

Purses - Ladies weed it out and then get a much smaller bag, again what will you really need or want to haul around all day?   Just cash, a credit card and an ID, maybe a little makeup and other sundries?  Other valuables, jewelry, cameras, laptop, blackberry?   First do you really need this stuff in Las Vegas?   If so, decide, before you pack it, just where will you store it securely when you get to Las Vegas?

So you get to your room and yes it is wonderful, the view from the window is a moving postcard and you want to just throw the bags in the corner and heed lady luck’s call.   First take a moment and consider what you will bring with you when you leave the room and what will stay in the room and then where will you put your valuables.   Most hotels have a safe deposit box in the lobby and some have in room safes.   Use them!   Take the second set of IDs, the big pile of tomorrow’s cash, the extra credit card and information on the one you have in your pocket, jewelery that you will not be wearing and your return plane ticket or shuttle voucher and all the other stuff you do not need right now and put them in the safe deposit box or safe.   Then put the key in a safe place.   If you can set your own combination for the in room safe, use something that you will remember but can not be discerned from what you have with you.   The combination may be based upon the well remembered phone number, birthday  or address of a friend or relative but never your own. Never  use the room number.  Do not write it down.  Large bulky items, cameras for instance, if left in the room are generally safe but do not leave it out in the open, put it out of sight when you leave the room.  Maybe in a locked suitcase.  Thieves have to first see something before they can steal it. 

Most hotel room keys are computerized cards that are programmed for your room.  Do not put your room number on the card! If you are forgetful, then write it down as something else and put it elsewhere on your person   Room #1234 can be Joe’s phone number 702/773-1234 or Mary’s Birthday January 2, 1934 .

Ok, flash forward again, you reach down for your wallet and purse and it is just not there.  It’s gone.  If you follow the advice above you will be out some cash and a credit card and a picture ID.  First go to the nearest security officer and explain what has happened, a report will be made.   Then go to the hotel, if your room key is also missing, tell the front desk ASAP, a new set of key cards will be issued and the old ones canceled.   Then ask a security officer to go to your room with you, just in case you have an unwelcome visitor.  Ok, the coast is clear, the old key card is deactivated and you are safely locked in your room and have a moment alone.  First go to the safe or safety deposit box take out the info needed to cancel the stolen credit card and make that call.  Then replenish your cash and ID from the reserve.  

Final note - Before you leave the room again, take a moment to pause and consider what happened to you.  Yes getting robbed is bad, but it could have been much worse if you had not planned ahead.  Now take another moment and ask yourself how it happened?  Did you leave your purse hanging open over the back of the chair?  Was your wallet in your exposed back pocket?  Ask yourself, just what will you do the next time to stop this from happening again?