Head up, eyes open

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) put out a brief press release this week, urging people who visit casinos to take proper measures to ensure they stay safe when leaving a casino. According to the SPD, they have responded to “several” armed robberies involving gamblers going home from casinos. The SPD did not provide any details as to what incidents they were talking about, nor when these took place.

The gist of the tips provided by the police is to always stay alert, which really is good advice for anyone at any time. The SPD advises people to remain aware of their surroundings and specifically to not walk home or to their car with their face in their phones. In fact, the SPD says to just put your phone away until you get home to avoid the possible distraction.

Related, the SPD says that if you notice someone suspicious, get to safety and call 911.

This is all fairly basic advice, but it is important. A tactic of criminals is to hang out in a casino and watch to see if anyone hits a big score. They will then follow that gambler out of the casino – whether it is to their car or on their walk home – in order to rob them, possibly violently.

Now, this is not to say you should be scared to enjoy yourself at a casino. It’s not like this is happening every day, everywhere. The point is to just take precautions to reduce the chances of being victimized.

More advice

Staying aware of one’s surroundings is arguably the most important tip, but the Seattle Police Department could have offered more advice, specific to casinos.

If you do win big, whether it be at the poker table, slots, or a table game, try not to publicize it if you can. It is unfortunate that casinos make a big deal out of jackpot wins and draw attention to the winner, but it is understandable – it’s marketing. But if you can avoid letting everyone in the vicinity know that you won, do so.

Then, when it comes time to cash out, avoid taking your winnings in cash if you can. You put a gigantic target on your back if people know you have thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in cash on you. If you can, get the cashier to send the money to your bank electronically or at least take a check (if that’s an option) to make it less obvious and/or feasible for someone to rob you.

No matter how you get your money, and especially if it is in cash, don’t hesitate to ask for a security escort to your car. Yes, that might put more of a spotlight on you, but it is also a deterrent to would-be muggers.

And finally, even if you are happily driving home, still maintain awareness. If you it looks like somebody was following you from the parking lot, don’t go straight home. Odds are it’s nothing, but better to make sure they aren’t following you. And if you are convinced someone is following you, call the police.

To be clear, you don’t need to be afraid to enjoy a day or night out at a casino. You don’t have to be paranoid. While incidents of robberies after casino visits are common enough for the SPD to warn people about, they are still rare, like most other crimes. But it is always good to be alert and take proper precautions, just to be sure.

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