Thieves love tourist areas. People bring expensive cameras, worry less about personal safety, and rarely prosecute criminals because they don’t wish to return to prosecute.
Should you worry more in Orlando than you do back home? No, crime happens in small towns too. Should you worry a little? Definitely. And not just in Orlando – any place where tourists gather, from Paris to Vegas to that little roadside motel. Of the three, Orlando might even be a bit safer. It relies on return tourists and knows that any story starting with “Orlando tourist beaten (or killed or robbed) …” goes viral, spreads globally, and scares potential guests.
Don’t destroy a vacation with worry, but consider the following:
- Make crime difficult. Thieves go for the easy mark, not Mission Impossible plots. Put stuff away. Hide electronics, cash, theme park tickets, jewelry, sunglasses, etc., in your suitcase and lock it. Better yet, use the hotel safe.
- Make crime difficult, part two. Book an inconvenient hotel room. At Disney, everyone checks in at a single gate to access a resort, and the average thief finds that inconvenient. If your hotel door opens onto a parking lot, a thief could run in, grab something, and make his getaway in less than 60 seconds. If parking is convenient for you, it’s also convenient for crime.
- Hide your hotel room. Don’t sport a $10,000 diamond ring, ruffle through a pile of $100 bills, and drop a room key that says “Orlando Elite Hotel, room 501.” You might as well issue a formal invitation.
- Confirm hotel security when booking – not after arrival. Ask about room keys without room numbers, the location of rooms, hotel layout, and the property’s level of security. Avoid any hotel that still issues room keys with numbers.
- Leave expensive jewelry at home. As a travel agent, I once told travelers to shop for fake jewelry that looked like their good stuff, but a safer alternative is to forego expensive-looking jewelry altogether. Why invite trouble? Try not to appear rich even if you are.
- Train the kids. Make it a rule: No one mentions the room number aloud, how much the vacation costs, or the amount of money Daddy has in his wallet.
- Look like a local. Fannie packs, shorts over fish-belly-white calves, and cameras scream “tourist.” It can’t be completely avoided, but don’t wear a T-shirt that says, “I’m from out of town.”
- Make smart choices. Don’t trust anyone, including maids, waiters, timeshare salesmen, cab drivers, or the guy in the Donald Duck costume. They’re probably fine, but an ounce of suspicion is better than a pound of regret.
- If something is stolen, notify everyone quickly. Start with the person or company that owns the room. Call the police. Fill out a report.
- Check your insurance. You may be covered for theft while on vacation, but the reimbursement process isn’t fun, and you may have a significant deductible.
Florida law severely limits hotels’ liability should personal possessions get stolen, even if the hotel was somehow negligent. That makes security your responsibility.