To summarize Obi-Wan Kenobi, “You will never encounter a more miserable hive of trash and villainy.”

Visitors to Las Vegas  notice the neon and spectacle. The cops who control the tourist sectors see something else. As the nation’s economics has recovered, so have crime organizations which focus on the out-of-towners. More guests mean more crooks to rob them.

When the Super Bowl comes to down, visitors are spotted as easy marks by a new strain of criminals who prey on the tourism sector. It’s not just the weekend of huge events, though. It can be anytime in “Sin City”.

The throngs of tourists visiting, at each second, are an attraction for crooks. The best that Metro Police Department can do is to hope to catch as many of the bad guys as possible.

One section near Planet Hollywood, by itself, could have the cops working all night. Deep with thieves and drug sellers on the streets, the police squad also heads into resorts to disperse the “trick roll” specialists who are almost part of the decor in, and near, the casinos. Hustling in Vegas is about thefts instead of sex.

While the visitor desires a surreptitious romp, the prostitutes and pimps have another game plan. They want to grab it all: money, property, credit cards. “While using prostitution as a front, they’re all committing robberies,” says Metro Sgt Mike Ford.

“Prostitution is appearing at an entirely distinct plane than anybody has observed on the Strip,” Ford said.

Ford should know. He operates one of several units who don’t do anything but work dangerous crimes around the Strip. Over 50 percent of the major crimes and violence are connected to the theft bands that utilize the prostitutes as a lure. Gangs, duos of pickpockets and auto theft are nocturnal actualities.

“The tourists usually don’t observe it, and they fail to be aware,” said Ford.

During just one shift, the cops on the Strip observe more offenses than a complete winter of “Cops” — a reality-based law enforcement show on television.

Violent Crime is Up Everywhere in Sin City

It’s not just the Strip that is seeing more violent crimes. Violent crime — including murder and sexual attack — is up significantly. The homicide rate has grown 74 percent when compared to last year. Overall, extreme offenses are up by 22 percent.

While more than 25 American cities have reported significant increases in the crime rate for 2015, Las Vegas is unusual as its difficulties have been blamed mostly on policy choices. According to managers inside the Las Vegas Police Department, the city’s troubles stem from:

  • A deficit of uniformed police
  • Limited jail scope
  • California’s attempts to lessen prison overpopulation

“There are several things that have to be looked at when considering what is causing the increase in crime rates,” said Kevin McMahill, a Las Vegas Metro Undersheriff. “I believe some of this Proposition 47 is behind much of it. We have noticed a striking boost in the quantity of persons we talk to in our gang territory who got here from California.”

Charis Kubrin, a criminology educator at UC Irvine, disputes that. “At this time, all of this is just pure speculation,” says Kubrin.

“It is known that crime trends are impacted by a variety of favors,” Kubrin says. “Factors including hunger, joblessness, gangs, drug cartels, gun availability, and mental health matters, just to name a few.”

In answer to the crime surge, Metro PD is telling investigators and plainclothes police to put on uniforms and join in on street duty, an uncommon and despised resolution.

Immersing the most unsafe areas with uniformed law enforcement officers has briefly helped. Las Vegas went over a week without a murder after the surge started. However, critics believe the move is doomed to failure as detectives, and undercover police, are being yanked off other assignments which typically lead to higher arrests.

Staying Safe

None of this means that Las Vegas is any more dangerous than other metropolitan areas in the US, though. Using some common sense is always good.

Common sense tactics include:

  • Don’t wear flashy jewelry
  • Leave your valuables at home
  • Don’t travel outside of your hotel at night, alone, and
  • Never go into crime ridden areas if possible

Knowing where the “crime ridden areas” in a strange city can be difficult. One online service, SpotCriime , can help pinpoint hotspots and areas to avoid.

SpotCrime is a crime data aggregator which makes the criminal incidents, plots them on Google Maps and delivers an alert through email and Facebook as well as numerous other platforms.

The data, providing by urban police departments, is supplemented by news reports as well as user-generated content.