New Orleans has two distinct sides to it. One side is the tourist hotspot that everyone envisions along with Mardi Gras and the music and the iconic architecture. The other is the historically high and consistent crime rate, including violent crime, gun crime and robberies, that branded the city the country’s “Murder Capital” for nearly 20 years. New Orleans crime rates are 159% higher than the national average and you have a 1 in 16 chance of becoming a victim of crime when visiting.
However, there are lots of things you can do to avoid this side and stick to the tourist extravaganza that everyone expects. Avoiding areas like the Central City neighbourhood and “Back of town” sections of the 7th 8th and 9th Wards (non-tourist areas anyway) should help you escape the majority of the violent crime. Stay in groups, especially on tours around the city.
In the areas you are most likely to go, there is still quite a high risk of pickpockets and purse snatchers (overall non-violent crime). Lots of tourists report scammers in the streets trying different tricks to convince you to part with your money. To all of these situations, the advice is the same: be aware of your surroundings, do not interact with strangers trying to get your attention as you walk, keep your valuables hidden and secure, keep a hand on your bag as well as it sitting on your shoulders and distribute your cash so if a pocket is picked you’re not out of luck.
Travellers report that when they kept in mind the risks around them and actively avoided them throughout their trip, it was a pleasant experience. Those who let their guard down tell a different story.