Times Square is one of New York’s most iconic spots but is it safe to walk around at night?
Whether you just want to see the bright lights or you’re heading to a Broadway show, it can be nerve-racking to visit Times Square after dark if you’re not a New Yorker.
In this handy guide, I’ve included everything you need to know about safety in Times Square including if it’s safe, the crime statistics and the most common tourist scams.
Table of Contents
Is Times Square New York Safe at Night?
Yes, generally Times Square in New York is pretty safe even at night. Pickpocketing and theft are your biggest concerns when it comes to crime in Times Square.
It’s safe to walk around alone, as a family or as a solo female traveler.
Times Square is a pretty crowded place, even at night. With so many people around, it’s hard to commit a serious crime and get away with it so people generally don’t bother.
This is especially true if you’ve just finished watching a show at the theater. With everyone leaving the theater all at once and pouring out onto the streets, you’ll generally be safe amongst them.
In fact, after a show, Times Square can be even more busy at night than it is during the day!
The main thing you need to watch out for in Times Square is pickpocketing.
Unfortunately as tourists often have lots of cash and valuables on them (like phones, cameras etc) and because they don’t know the area well, this makes them a target for theft.
Pickpockets also know that tourists are usually pretty distracted in Times Square (I mean, it’s iconic, who can blame them!?) but this does leave you vulnerable.
Pickpocketing is even easier in Times Square at night because it’s darker so you need to be really cautious at all times.
Although it is a bit darker at night, the bright lights from the screens keep the whole square pretty illuminated even at nighttime.
Remember that if you’re visiting New York in the winter then it can get dark as early as 4:30PM so it’s likely that you’ll be out after dark.
In general though, Times Square is very safe at night for tourists. I’d avoid going off into any dark and deserted alleys or streets nearby though.
Check out what Times Square is like at night in the video below:
As you can see, even after dark, Times Square is still super busy and lively. I’m sure you can see though how pickpocketing could be pretty easy with all those crowds.
Related Post: Is The New York Subway Safe At Night?
How to Prevent Pickpocketing in Times Square
Theft happens in Times Square and it probably always will (*sigh*).
Here’s some tips that can drastically reduce your chances of being pickpocketed:
- Don’t flash your valuables. Leave the Rolex at home and keep other expensive items out of sight as much as possible.
- Don’t make yourself look like an obvious tourist. Although most people in Times Square are tourists, if you’re wandering around looking lost, you may make yourself a target.
- Try not to drink too much. If you’re obviously drunk then thieves may think you’re an easy target.
- Don’t put anything that you don’t want to get stolen in your back pocket. Always keep your wallet or phone in your front pocket.
- Make sure your bag is shut and carry it on your front if possible. Try not to use a bag that is unable to close like a tote bag.
- You can actually buy anti-theft bags which are super difficult for pickpockets to get into.
If you practice these tips then it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be a victim of theft in Times Square.
Remember that over a hundred million people visit Times Square every single year and most visits are trouble-free.
Is Times Square Dangerous?
Times Square isn’t particularly dangerous as there are lots of cameras and a large police presence. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be the victim of a violent crime in Times Square.
It’s great to know that there are a lot of cameras in Times Square (and I mean tons!). This tends to put off a lot of thieves and prevents most serious crimes.
Unfortunately the cameras don’t really prevent pickpocketing as it’s much harder to pick up on due to the crowds.
Many pickpockets are also pretty skilled and will take things from you without you even noticing!
You’ll also find that Times Square (and Manhattan as a whole) has a really large police presence.
It’s not hard to find a police officer in Manhattan so, again, this tends to put off thieves from committing crimes as it’s hard to get away with it.
Based on this, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be the victim of any serious crimes meaning that Times Square isn’t very dangerous at all.
💡Helpful Tip: For more awesome safety tips like these, check out my complete guide on if Manhattan is safe which includes common tourist scams and other safety tips.
Is Staying Near Times Square Safe?
Yes, Times Square is a safe place to stay if you’re looking for a hotel in New York City.
It’s a perfectly safe area to stay in and, due to its central location close to all of the action, it’s actually one of the best places to stay in NYC.
It’s generally perfectly safe to walk back to your hotel from Times Square at night. The area is still pretty busy, even late at night, so you should be fine.
It’s safe for everyone including solo women and families with children.
Times Square Crime Rate
Many years ago, back in the 1970s and 1980s, many people avoided Times Square due to its high crime rate. It actually used to be a very sleazy and dangerous place back then.
Since then things have greatly improved and now Times Square is perfectly safe and crime is pretty low.
New Yorkers still avoid it though, not because of crime, but because it’s super touristy!
Whilst Midtown Manhattan, and Times Square in particular, have the highest crime rates in the whole of New York City, it is still pretty safe as a whole.
The high crime rates are largely due to theft (which makes sense since this area is so touristy).
Luckily, pickpocketing and petty theft can largely be avoided if you keep your belongings safe and out of sight.
Although violent crime is much rarer in Times Square now than it used to be, it does still happen from time to time.
Worryingly in 2021, Times Square’s crime rate rose and there were three shootings in Times Square with several tourists being hit.
Unfortunately this kind of violence is a huge problem in the United States as a whole right now and the COVID-19 pandemic likely made it worse as people were struggling.
The police have responded by putting more police officers in the area to keep people safe.
According to the New York Post, in the first 6 months of 2021 there were 232 crime incidents reported in Times Square.
Given that Times Square received around 219,000 visitors per day during that year, this means that there is a 0.0006% chance that you’ll be the victim of a crime in Times Square.
This equates to roughly 1.27 crimes per day. To put this into perspective, roughly 1 crime occurs for every 172,000 visitors to Times Square.
Please note that the above statistics are based on reported crime and not actual crime so the rate may be higher if you factor in unreported crime.
Is Times Square Safe During the Day?
Yes, Times Square is a safe place during the day. Aside from pickpocketing and theft, your main concern should be tourist traps.
Here’s the most common tourist scams to watch out for in Times Square:
Watch out for the large cartoon characters that will offer to take a photo with you.
Although they often don’t ask for cash upfront, they will expect a tip so don’t take a photo with one unless you’re willing to pay.
Most of the cartoon characters will leave you alone when they realize that you’re not interested but they may hassle you a bit at first.
Also be wary of getting into any cars that are not yellow cabs. A common scam in New York City is people in unmarked cars pretending to be taxi drivers.
They may charge you a ridiculous price for the journey or worse, they could be dangerous so avoid these cars at all costs!
Other things to watch out for are people handing out ‘free’ gifts like bracelets or CDs/DVDs (nothing is ever free and they’ll want a payment).
Sometimes you’ll get home to find out that the awesome CD or DVD you just purchased is actually blank making it useless. My advice? Stick with Netflix instead.
You may also see a lot of homeless people in Times Square. Some of these people have become addicted to drugs and/or have become mentally ill.
Whilst most of Times Square’s homeless people won’t hurt you, some of them do get violent from time to time so be cautious.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post on if Times Square is safe at night.
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