Safety at Mardi Gras
New Orleans is no more crime-infested than any other large city,
which is probably contrary to what you may have heard. The reason New Orleans is
considered by some as a high crime city is two-fold. First, it's a big tourist attraction;
hence there are a lot of "eyes" on what's happening there - more so than what
happens in cities that aren't as big of tourist attractions. Secondly, when many
people visit New Orleans, they let down their guard somewhat
because of the large
say, "There is safety in numbers." And while this might be true to an
extent, it doesn't mean you shouldn't take common-sense precautions. In the highly
unlikely event that you fall victim to a crime (usually pickpockets/muggers, but could be
much worse), the only thing that's certain is you will NEVER catch or see the perpetrator
.ever. While there's "safety" in huge crowds, there's also
"anonymity." If you are victimized, my recommendation is that you find the
nearest police officer or a pay phone and call the police (immediately) - not that they
will be able to do anything, though. To possibly help prevent falling victim to a
crime, see the tips below.
Don't bring valuables to Mardi Gras unless you absolutely have to;
and if that be the case, store them in your hotel's safe.
Hotel Room Number
Never show anyone your
hotel room card folder or tell them your room number unless you know you can trust them
(or can overtake them if something goes wrong).
Never, ever leave your luggage unattended in public.
If you turn your back on your luggage while in a hotel lobby, airport or rail terminal,
you could be the victim of an SNR (Snatch 'n' Run). This happens no more in New
Orleans than it does in other cities; however given the large number of people that will
be coming in for Mardi Gras, thieves will be chomping at the bit.
Don't fall for the "I bet you money that I can tell
you where you got your shoes" trick. Note: This isn't technically a crime
because participation is subject to mutual agreement; however, don't participate unless
you want to be out some $$.
Someone Following You
If you sense that you are being followed by someone
suspicious, get yourself occupied. Occupation usually discourages following, and is also
an excellent tactic for getting rid of drunks who won't leave you alone. Walk over and
start talking to a cop if one happens to be around. If not, go into a restaurant or a bar
and don't leave until you know your follower has left the area and the coast is clear.
What if they follow you into the restaurant or bar? Make friends with someone there, and
fast. Your follower will soon get lost (but make sure they aren't standing outside waiting
for you). In most all cases, the person following you is probably just drunk or
interested in becoming friends with you, but you should always remain cautious.
Mugging and Other Crimes
The golden rule: "For I say unto you, thou shalt
not veer off the well-lit, beaten path; for whomsoever doth veer off this path shall
assume a great risk." Stay in well-lighted areas where other revelers
are. Do NOT wander into dark alleys anywhere or down streets beyond the edge of the
French Quarter. There are several rough neighborhoods within walking distance of
the Quarter. The most important Mardi Gras safety tip of all: STAY ON
THE BEATEN PATH.
Pick-pockets love big crowds, especially at parades and other
large, outdoor events. The best way to guard against this crime is to carry only the
important items you need, and carry them in places other than your pockets (or at least
not in your back pockets). One popular way to carry such things as money, credit
cards, and other essentials is to purchase a small, leather bag that can be attached to
your belt in the front. I don't know the proper name for these bags, but they are
very common. In addition from being pick-pocket protection, these bags are also good
for storing fragile items such as cameras. You're less likely to bump something or
get bumped in the front that you are in the side or rear. There is also such a thing
as a "money belt." The concept is simple - carry your short-term spending
money in your front pocket, and keep a larger amount in your money belt. But watch
out - smart criminals know which belts are "money belts," and might want to
follow you to the restroom or some other area if they think you're about to replenish your
supply of cash!