Located in California, Los Angeles (L.A.) is where the world’s biggest movie stars, musicians, athletes, and entertainers live. Lush forests, cascading ranges, valleys, a desert, and the most beautiful beaches adorn the irresistible L.A. landscape.
It’s no wonder there are over 29 million tourists who visit Los Angeles annually. L.A. has so much to offer. The skyscrapers, beautiful street art, museums, landmarks, food scene, entertainment joints, parks, and other attractions are unparalleled.
However, this beautiful oasis on this side of the Pacific Ocean isn’t without its downsides. After all, it’s progressive DAs and “soft on crime” policies have backfired in recent years.
Los Angeles ranks among the most dangerous places to visit due to increased aggravated assault, theft, violent crime, and property crime reports. Is Los Angeles Safe? Read on for a comprehensive run-down.
Is Los Angeles Safe to Visit in 2022?
Disneyland, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Universal Studios are a few locations where tourists can’t wait to set foot in Los Angeles if only to breathe the same air as the world’s greatest entertainers.
If you’re here for a vacation, the glistening waters of the ocean and beautiful beaches set the perfect background for the best holiday experience. As is evident in any metropolitan area, the good is always accompanied by some bad.
It explains why Los Angeles is famous for being one of the most desirable locations for tourists but simultaneously the most dangerous. Is Los Angeles safe to visit? In general, yes. But you should be more alert than in other big cities.
Read Next: The Best Time to Visit Disneyland in 2022
Common Crimes in Los Angeles
The South Central Area of Los Angeles has the highest crime and murder rate. Gang violence is to blame for some of the most heinous crimes ever reported in L.A.
It’s good that most gangs prefer to set up shops in areas far away from places tourists would be interested in visiting. If you’re new here, the sight of graffiti markings on different visible surfaces on the street indicates a particular gang’s territory.
Different gangs go by different graffiti designs. Therefore, it’s safe to avoid areas with such markings as they’re considered dangerous and unsafe.
Warnings & Dangers in Los Angeles
Crime levels in Los Angeles have increased notably during the pandemic. Blame it on the use of face masks which most offenders used to hide their identities when committing various crimes.
A fact that proved challenging for the authorities as they couldn’t identify most of the people present on security footage. Here’s a rundown of various risks and their prevalence rates in Los Angeles.
General Risk: Medium
There’s a good chance that if you ignore your surroundings, you’ll fall victim to common crimes in L.A. Los Angeles is generally a safe city. You should stay alert when visiting crowded tourist attractions, landmarks, beaches, and parks. There are areas full of pickpockets and scammers.
Transport and Taxis Risk: Low
The train, bus, and metro are public transportation options available in L.A. While most trips happen successfully without any criminal incidents, pickpocketing and other petty thefts often occur mainly to tourists and unsuspecting people.
Taxis and other private transportation options are super safe and reliable. Avoid boarding an empty bus at night, and always confirm your taxi details before boarding.
Pickpockets Risk: Medium
Pickpocketing and purse snatching are common petty crimes that you could fall victim to if you’re using public transportation or visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hold your purse tightly and keep your wallet close in a secure front pocket.
This makes it harder for someone to get a grip of your belongings, let alone run away with them. Be cautious of suspicious-looking people who insist on trailing or getting too close to you.
Mugging Risk: Medium
Muggings and kidnapping cases may be rare in Los Angeles, but they’re not unheard of. Gang-infested neighborhoods, dark alleys, and secluded areas like empty parking lots are where muggings are likely to occur. Avoid these places.
Scam Risk: Medium
Be careful not to try to withdraw money from an ATM that’s been tampered with. Also, avoid people trying to sell you ideas or gadgets after you clearly expressed that you’re not interested. The majority of tourist destinations are full of scammers. They’re usually after your car, passport, or money.
Women Traveler Risk: Low
Los Angeles is one of the safest cities in the world for women to live. Provided you steer clear of dangerous neighborhoods and avoid poorly lit streets and deserted places at night, you should experience no threat to safety.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
From white picket fence neighborhoods to the dingiest-looking, crime-infested areas, you’ll find it all in Los Angeles. However, note that there are more neighborhoods in L.A. that are considered safe than unsafe.
Below is a brief look at safe neighborhoods and dangerous places to avoid in Los Angeles. Neighborhoods with high reported cases of Larceny-theft, violent shootings, homicides, and street violence in Los Angeles include:
Skid Row harbors the highest number of homeless people, most of whom are drug addicts. This part of downtown grapples with extreme poverty. Most people here have no idea where their next meal will come from. Some will go to great extremes to steal money or jewelry they can exchange for drugs.
Watts is far cleaner and more organized now compared to some years back. The crime levels are yet to go down, and hence not the best place for visiting tourists to be caught wandering.
Criminals and gang members like to use the train stops as their hideouts. Avoid going to or passing by Watts at night, mainly when you haven’t mastered your way around.
Chinatown is always bursting with activity. Here, you’ll find the best eateries in L.A. and plenty of inexpensive fun during the day. However, things take a turn for the worst when the sun disappears.
Don’t be fooled by the red lanterns and bright fluorescent lights adorning the Chinatown streets. One wrong move and you could fall victim to common crimes like mugging, stabbing, pickpocketing, or even kidnapping.
Once upon a time, Venice was a budding affluent neighborhood full of promise. But an influx of homeless camps and drug addicts has had a negative effect on the image of this neighborhood. The state of security in Venice has become so bad that it rivals that of Skid Row.
Also known as Baldwin Park, Crenshaw is where you need to be if you want to see the best views of downtown. The high hilly areas of Crenshaw are safe. It’s the lower areas down the hills that experience active gang activity.
Other dangerous places in Los Angeles you should avoid are Lincoln Heights, Park Mesa Heights, Inglewood, and West Adams.
Safe Places to Visit in Los Angeles
Los Angeles ranks pretty high as one of the most expensive cities globally. A hint at the caliber of neighborhoods you’ll likely come across during your visit. Some of the safest areas include:
The small neighborhood separating Hollywood from Beverly Hills is called West Hollywood. It’s where you can stay as a visitor without paying the steep prices hotels and restaurants charge in other places around L.A. Here you can wine, dine and go clubbing all night long without encountering safety issues.
Sleek shopping malls, entertainment joints, ethnic eateries, and people from different cultures peacefully exist in Glendale. If you want to go to a place where your safety is guaranteed, Glendale is undoubtedly the safest place for visitors in Los Angeles.
Marina Del Rey
Want to escape the noisy L.A. streets? Marina Del Rey is one of the quietest waterside neighborhoods where visitors can find safe, reliable accommodation.
Here, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking harbor views and enjoy a relatively low-key night scene without all the chaos in most clubbing joints.
Tech start-ups and giants like Google, Facebook, and YouTube have offices in Playa Vista. It’s an affluent residential area with plenty of security and round-the-clock police patrols.
A familiar name to all movie lovers and enthusiasts, Beverly Hills, is one of the most famous L.A. neighborhoods, so much so that it’s one of the City’s main attractions. It’s where you’ll find urban parks, elite schools, and family-friendly accommodations.
Other safe neighborhoods in Los Angeles include Mar Vista, Westwood, Manhattan Beach, Malibu, Encino, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Claremont.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Los Angeles
There’s little you can do to guarantee your safety when exploring Los Angeles, especially in some of the dangerous neighborhoods highlighted above. However, the safety tips listed below can go a long way in lowering your probability of becoming a victim of crime in L.A.
Be Sure of Your Destination
Before departing from your hotel or other destination, plan your routes and clearly understand where you’re going. The use of traffic apps comes in handy.
L.A. drivers are some of the most disciplined and unaggressive in America; save for a few drivers here and there who choose to drive under the influence or blatantly refuse to follow traffic rules.
If you’re used to driving aggressively and passing stop signs in your home country, you’ll attract attention, not only from the police but also from criminals.
Watch Your Valuables
Whether in your hotel room or your car, if you leave your valuables in a location where they’re easily visible and accessible, there’s a good chance someone will steal them.
Ask for a safe or a locker to keep your valuables safe at the hotel. Keep your valuables in different compartments in your car to avoid unwarranted attention.
Drink Plenty of Water
Los Angeles experiences the driest, hottest summers in California and the Larger America. Stay hydrated if you’re walking long distances, planning to go hiking, or driving in the desert.
Find Fair Accommodation
Accommodation options in Los Angeles can be pretty pricey. Glendale, Anaheim, Pasadena, and Burbank have excellent choices if you want better, affordable accommodations in much safer neighborhoods.
Things to Consider When Visiting Los Angeles
Anyone searching for a great time in Los Angeles would be lost for choice. Without a precise itinerary in place, your safety is compromised, and so is your quest for a fun experience.
Here are some things to consider to remain safe and have the best times in L.A:
- Be careful. You probably have a few emergency numbers on speed dial; avoid venturing into dangerous neighborhoods and stay alert to your surroundings when you’re back home. You avoid leaving your drink unattended and steer clear of suspicious people on the streets. The same preventive measures apply even in a foreign city like L.A.
- Do plenty of research. Before coming to L.A, read the blogs, talk to friends that live in L.A, and find all credible resources to tell you a bit of what the City is all about.
- L.A seems deserted after dark. Most neighborhoods turn into ghost towns at dusk. If you want to experience Los Angeles’s vibrant nightlife, consider staying in safe communities where crime is low, and safety is guaranteed even at night.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. L.A. enjoys a fantastic climate. During summer, temperatures can get pretty high, while the winters can be gruesome. Depending on when you’ll be visiting Los Angeles, wear weather-appropriate clothing to stay comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about Los Angeles’ safety.
Is Los Angeles dangerous?
Los Angeles is generally a safe city. The neighborhoods exist on extreme opposites. On the one hand, you have super affluent, secure, and vibrant areas.
On the other hand, you have smaller pockets, some a few blocks away from affluent neighborhoods where gangs and homelessness thrive. Be sure to stay alert and away from dangerous places.
What should I avoid in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is full of free-spirited people who don’t mind sparking conversations or hanging out with you even though they just met you. While you don’t want to be rude:
- Avoid following people you don’t know.
- Avoid going out when you’re not sure where you’re going.
- Avoid leaving your food and drinks unattended, especially when out dining and clubbing alone.
- Avoid using ATMs that seem to have been tampered with
- Avoid accepting foodstuffs from strangers
- Avoid lingering in dark alleys, deserted spaces, and dangerous neighborhoods at night
Is L.A. safer than NYC?
Is downtown L.A. safe to live?
Downtown Los Angeles is not a safe place to live. Skid Row is one of the most dangerous, gang-dominated neighborhoods where many drug addicts live, and homeless camps exist. The area has a high violent crime rate and is unsafe for tourists and locals to live in.
Is it safe to walk in L.A.?
The city design aims to accommodate drivers more than pedestrians. Specific intersections in the City have been flagged for being the most dangerous for pedestrians walking on the roadside or who want to cross the roads. The L.A. Times reports which intersections to avoid when walking in L.A.
So, Is Los Angeles Safe to Visit?
Is Los Angeles Safe? Of Course! Ensure your phone is fully charged and avoid walking or partying alone at night. Los Angeles is one of the most intriguing places you can visit.
But, it’s hard to ignore that the safety levels here are also compromised. Provided you keep in mind all the tips in this detailed read, nothing will stand in the way of you having a blast in the largest City in California. Happy travels!