What are good New York City visitor safety tips?

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Answered by: Anne, An Expert in the New York City - For Newbies Category
in a 2015 survey by THE ECONOMIST of 50 major cities worldwide, New York City ranked an impressive 10th for overall safety; though with nearly eight and a half million residents, it would be wrong to assume New York and its environs is *completely* safe.

By taking a few simple precautions, however (and using common sense), there's no reason a tourist can't move about the city like a native, and with little risk.

Here are four good visitor safety tips:

* AVOID THE UNIFORM: If you're wandering Times Square or visiting the 9/11 Memorial, it can't be helped - you're going to be pegged a a tourist. But a savvy visitor to the City will avoid wearing clothes that advertise where they're from. Stick to darker colors as well, and make sure your sightseeing clothes wouldn't look out of place in a nice restaurant. You'll blend more easily.

Additionally, New Yorkers tend to avoid museum gift stores, NBC, and the M&Ms Store - unless they're with someone from out of town. Avoid wandering around with too many purchases from tourist sites, or keep a folding lightweight tote on hand to keep everything in.

* STAY VIGILANT: Crime has been dropping steadily in New York City since the early 1990's, but it's still a problem. Perpetrators are on the lookout for people who don't see them coming - and would have a hard time identifying them after they've gone. Be mindful of your surroundings at all times; don't get distracted by anything or anyone - ESPECIALLY when using electronic devices. Phone and tablet theft is now the top subway crime in New York, and often these crimes are a two, or even three-person operation. Additionally, keep the map reading to a minimum when on the street. That said...

* ASK A NEW YORKER: They're proud of their city, and are the greatest ambassadors you'll ever encounter - if you need directions, advice or assistance, ask them! If they can help you, they will - and if they can't, chances are they'll try and find someone who can. Remember, though - while there's no one better than a New Yorker in a crisis, there's no one worse than a New Yorker in an inconvenience, so move to the side of the street when stopping for anything... including asking for help.

* FOUR LITTLE WORDS: Even the most seasoned New Yorker is approached from time to time by someone who makes them uncomfortable. If you as a tourist find yourself in the presence of someone trying to ingratiate their way past your comfort zone while incapacitated, panhandling, or offering assistance you haven't asked for, don't think humoring the aggressor or 'playing along' is going to put an end to the unwanted attention. New Yorkers know that when you want someone to leave you alone the best defense is to simply say 'GET AWAY FROM ME' - though New Yorkers tend to escalate that one to 'GET THE F%@* AWAY FROM ME'. Say it quickly, easily and firmly; not only does that leave nothing left to interpretation on the part of the aggressor, it will alert people in the vicinity to your situation - as stated above, there is no one better than a New Yorker when real help is required.

Remember - people looking to commit a crime aren't looking for trouble committing it; make their job as hard as possible. Follow these visitor safety tips, and nothing has to stop you from going anywhere you like in the five boroughs.

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