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Much of the post-Katrina media coverage has focused on New Orleans's escalating crime rate. Sadly, this isn't just sensationalism—gangs operate in the city's underpopulated neighborhoods, there's a growing homelessness problem, the murder rate is among the highest in the nation, and armed robberies occur all too frequently. These grim statistics should not dissuade you from visiting, but you need to exercise caution if you venture outside the well-touristed areas—especially at night.
The French Quarter is generally safe, but pay attention to your surroundings and your possessions (especially expensive cameras and dangling shoulder bags). Use special caution in the areas near Rampart Street and below St. Philip Street at night, and be alert on all quiet Quarter side streets.
The CBD and Warehouse District are safe, but take a cab at night if there aren't many other pedestrians around.
Be alert and exercise caution walking around in the Bywater or the lower part of Faubourg Marigny at night, and take a cab when traveling between spread-out destinations. Avoid Garden District side streets after dark.
All that said, the New Orleans Police Department does take pains to keep violent crime out of the tourist zones, with many uniformed and plainclothes police stationed throughout the Quarter and at special events.
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