Visitor Safety Tips

The Seattle Police Department welcomes you to our city! Whether this is your first trip to Seattle or a return visit, we sincerely hope you have a fun, memorable, and safe time here. 

About the City

  • Seattle is a medium sized city of over 600,000 people.
  • The city has a compact downtown core that is very walkable and full of attractions.
  • The city is also in many ways a "City of Neighborhoods," and there are distinct cultures in many districts outside of the downtown core.
  • Our crime statistics show that Seattle is relatively safe for its size.

Common sense precautions:


  • If driving, plan your route carefully, travel on main roads, and use maps. Have your car serviced and tires checked before leaving.

  • When driving in stop and go congested traffic, leave your windows up and doors locked.
  • If your car breaks down, turn on your flashers and raise the hood or tie a white cloth to the antenna. If you must abandon your car, keep all passengers together.
  • Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, a fire extinguisher, and first aid kit in your personal vehicle at all times.
  • Avoid traveling during the late night hours, especially if in unfamiliar locations.
  • If you stop overnight, remove bags and other valuables from the car and take them inside. · Try to park in well lit, populated areas. When returning to your vehicle, check spaces between cars and check around your vehicle before approaching. Have your keys ready to unlock the door, and check the back seat before entering.
  • Even if you are only leaving for a minute, lock all doors, trucks, windows and sunroofs.
  • Never leave attractive packages or any valuable items in view. Remove them from the car when possible. If you must leave them, lock them in the trunk before you arrive at the parking location. A thief may be watching.
  • Purses, wallets, checkbooks and other credential items should never be left in an unattended vehicle under any circumstances.
  • When parking in an attended lot, leave only the ignition key with the attendant.

Hotels - Motels

  • Book hotel reservations using only first, middle initial and last name, particularly women traveling alone.

  • Leave an itinerary and expected return date with friends or family.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash. Use traveler's checks. Keep a record of traveler's check numbers, credit card numbers, photocopy of passport and other valuable documents separate from originals.
  • Keep room numbers private. Don't sign bar or restaurant checks with your room number. Keep track of room keys. If a key is lost, ask for a different room, or ask for the locks to be changed.
  • Use all locks on hotel door, particularly the double lock. Consider bringing with you a motel/hotel portable lock. Always lock the door when leaving.
  • When returning to your room, make sure that you have your room key out and ready.
  • Never automatically open your door when a knock is heard. Know your visitor's identity prior to admittance. Use your peephole, if available, or talk through the locked door. If someone claims they are from maintenance, security or a hotel employee, phone the front desk to make sure the visitor is legitimate.
  • Valuables should not be left in the room, you or the people who service your room may occasionally forget to lock it. Put valuables in a signed and sealed envelope and leave it in the room safe or the front desk safe deposit box.
  • Be alert for suspicious persons in the hotel hallways. Report them to the manager.
  • Do not advertise how long you will be away from your room. Leave a light on or a TV or radio playing to give the impression that the room is occupied.
  • Locate fire exits, elevators and the nearest phone. Plan the best way to get out of the building in an emergency.
  • Label all pieces of luggage with your name, address, and phone number, both inside and outside. For the outside label be sure to use a tag that closes, so the information can't be read by a passerby.
  • Lock all pieces of luggage.
  • Never leave your baggage unattended. If it's a problem, check it or put it in a locker.
  • Hand carry medication, currency and important documents or keep them in a money belt.


  • When possible, travel with another person when sightseeing or shopping, particularly at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. Do not feel embarrassed to leave an uncomfortable situation.
  • Walk with purpose and project an assertive and business-like image. Criminals will be discouraged if you do not appear vulnerable or easily intimidated.
  • Select sightseeing companies and guides carefully. Make sure they are legitimate. Check with your hotel staff for recommendations.
  • When asking for directions, first look for a police officer or another public employee (i.e., bus driver), or go into a nearby business.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash. Use traveler's checks and debit/atm cards. Keep a record of traveler's check numbers, credit card numbers, photocopy of passport and other valuable documents separate from originals.
  • If you must carry a large amount of cash, separate it from your purse or wallet and carry it inside clothing (i.e., in a hidden pocket or a money belt).
  • Be careful and alert when cashing traveler's checks, or using a cash machine. Never let someone see how much money you have in your wallet, or where you keep your money.
  • Don't wear expensive jewelry and watches when out sightseeing. If you must wear it, wear it inside your clothing.
  • Pickpockets are often attracted to crowded places. They often work in teams of two or three; one may create a distraction while the other one lifts your wallet. Be aware of someone who bumps, shoves or gets too close.
  • Don't tempt a thief by leaving your purse or wallet unattended. It only takes a second to grab it.
  • Learn to carry your purse or wallet safely. Purses should be closed, held in front of your body, with your arm across it. Wallets should be carried a front pants pocket or in an interior jacket pocket.
  • Aggressive panhandling is illegal in Seattle. If someone obstructs or intimidates you, and aggressively begs for money, you do not have to give them money, and you can report this offense to the police department. Please do not encourage or reward panhandling.


Sue Rahr, Interim Chief of Police
Address: 610 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98104-1900
Mailing Address: PO Box 34986, Seattle, WA, 98124-4986
Phone: (206) 625-5011
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The Seattle Police Department (SPD) prevents crime, enforces laws, and supports quality public safety by delivering respectful, professional, and dependable police services. SPD operates within a framework that divides the city into five geographical areas called "precincts".