Midtown Baltimore is home to Baltimore’s most famous monuments, historic buildings, churches, cultural and educational institutions, shops, businesses and nonprofits, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people are drawn to Midtown every year to live, work, and play.
In addition to all that Midtown has to offer, it has, like any urban environment, its own unique set of challenges such as panhandling and the occasional crime. The following tips will help you to navigate safely through some of the possible situations and/or scenarios you might encounter while in Midtown.
Walking and Shopping in Midtown
- When possible, walk and shop with at least one other person.
- Stay alert and “tuned-in” to your surroundings.
- Don’t allow texting, loud earphone music, or phone conversations to distract you as you walk.
- Convey the message that you’re calm, confident, and know where you’re going.
- Stay on busy, well lit streets walking close to the curb, not right next to the buildings.
- Avoid shortcuts through parking lots or alleys.
- Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or situation and leave as soon as possible.
- If a stranger is following you, switch directions or cross the street. When this fails, move quickly toward an open store or restaurant or a well-lit house — don’t be afraid to yell for help and/or call 911.
- Don’t allow your handbag, backpack, or laptop bag to dangle by your side in a way that a thief can run by and grab it away; instead carry the handbag in front and close to your body.
- Don’t buy more items than you can easily handle when shopping — struggling with bags can make you a target.
- Don’t flash or count your cash on the street or in crowds. Don’t display inviting targets like pagers, smartphones, tablets, hand-held electronic games, or expensive jewelry.
• Ignore panhandlers.
• Don’t give money to panhandlers.
• Walk away, if possible, and go somewhere safe.
• Don’t yell at or insult the panhandler.
• Don’t use physical force against the panhandler, except in self-defense.
• Walk into the closet business and inform the owner or manager.
• Seek out police officers patrolling the area.
• Aggressive panhandling is illegal. If a panhandler is too aggressive and you feel in danger, you should yell for help and/or call 911
- Never leave your handbag or wallet unattended, even for a moment.
- Politely decline offers by strangers to carry your bags or share found money with you.
- If someone tries to grab your bag(s) let it/them go — nothing is as valuable as your safety and well-being! Observe the assailant as closely as possible to get a description for the police: age, race, height, weight, hair color and length, clothing, distinguishing characteristics.
- Carry wallets in a front pants pocket or the inside of your coat.
- Cary only as much cash and credit/debit cards as you need — keep cash to a minimum.
• Be conscious of those around you when using the ATM — if you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and go to another ATM.
• Try to use ATM machines located inside banks or stores rather than outdoor terminals. If you must use an ATM after hours, make sure it’s well-lighted.
• Never walk away from an ATM with cash still in hand. If you’re going to count your cash, do so at a secure spot.
Parking in Midtown
- Avoid parking in isolated areas.
- Always park in well-lit areas.
- Don’t park next to shrubbery or dumpsters.
- Avoid parking near exits and stairways in garages.
- When parking during daylight hours, think about how the area will look if you return after nightfall.
- Always be alert to people just sitting in their vehicles.
- Call 911 if you see any suspicious persons lurking near vehicles.
- If you observe someone in your vehicle, do not approach — leave as quickly as you can and call 911.
- Close all windows and the sunroof.
- Always lock your vehicle.
- Never leave credit cards or other identifying information in your vehicle.
- Lock personal valuables in the trunk of your vehicle, far before you reach your parking destination, or take them with you.
- Never leave items attractive to thieves visible in your vehicle — GPS unit, coins, CD’s, MP3 players, computers, purses, backpacks, clothing, sunglasses, etc.
- Remove your GPS unit and all other accessories such as mounting brackets, chargers, headsets or audio leads and wipe off any suction cup marks on the windshield using a micro-fiber cloth or a moist towel.
- Replace cigarette lighter — no lighter signals the presence of electronic equipment.
- Don’t hide a spare key in your vehicle.
- Use a steering wheel or brake pedal lock, or install a kill switch, warning light and/or audible alarm.
- Have your vehicle key in your hand before you reach the door.
- Enter and exit your vehicle quickly.
Nightlife in Midtown
- When possible, go out with at least one other person.
- Don’t drink excessively — it will make you a far more attractive target for criminals.
- Don’t flash large amounts of cash when paying the tab.
- Don’t announce or talk loudly about the next venue you may be headed to — criminals could pick a point along your route to wait for you.
- Consider calling for a taxi instead of flagging one down on the street.
Smartphone Use in Midtown
- Smartphones have a street value. By displaying or using your smartphone on the street or in public areas, you increase the likelihood that it will be snatched from your hand — especially when you are preoccupied by conversation or texting.
- Don’t engage in smartphone use when on the street.
- When possible, make calls from the office or from your vehicle when safely stopped.
- Calls received while on the street should be short and not so engaging as to become a distraction from what’s happening around you — or if someone is approaching you.