Crime Prevention & Safety for Individuals : Personal Safety | Safety for Children & Teens | Safety Tips for Seniors | International Student Safety | Social Networking and Internet Safety | Preventing Fraud | Online Identity Theft | Identity Theft
International Student Safety
Vancouver is a safe city, and violent crime is not common and not very likely to occur to a resident or student. As in any other big city, however, thefts, pick-pocketing, and small crimes do happen. The material on this web page was produced to educate students on crime prevention so that they can have a safe and enjoyable stay in Vancouver.
The most common type of crime is theft. DO NOT leave your purse, backpack, or other property unattended in public places.
On the Street
Be alert. Walk with confidence. Walk with your head up. Be aware of who is and what is around you, and be careful when someone approaches you with a simple question. Leave strange or uncomfortable situations. Trust your instincts. Always tell your roommate or host family where you are going and when you will be back.
- before going out ask advice for the best routes to events, restaurants or shopping
- change direction if you feel you are being followed; go to the nearest store, restaurant, or pay phone
- do not carry large amounts of money (cash), and do not show money in public; use bank / debit cards instead
- never share your PIN number or let others see it
- keep your passport in a safe place at home; instead carry a photocopy of your passport and other ID
- don't go out alone or accept rides with strangers; do not hitchhike
- don't use headphones when walking / jogging; they make it difficult to hear an approaching car or stranger
- don't carry weapons; they are illegal and can be used against you
- don't argue or fight if robbed – yell loudly
- fight back to protect yourself if you are attacked; try to stop or distract the attacker so that you can escape and call 9-1-1
Out at Night
At night, walk on well-lit, busy streets. Try to be with someone. Walk in the middle of the sidewalk. Avoid isolated areas such as parks where there are no other people around. Carry a whistle or other personal safety device. Scream or yell loudly if attacked.
- taxis are a good way to get home - know the taxi company and number of the taxi in case you have any problem
- the drinking age in B.C. is 19 years - identification or a passport is required to purchase liquor or enter a bar, or night club / disco
- drinking in public places such as parks, beaches, cars, or on the street is illegal
- if you go to a bar, you should go with friends - you can still meet people, but will have a group to help you if you have any problems
- if you plan to drink alcohol, be sure to arrange a ride home - make sure your friends know where you live and how to get you home
- know your drinking limits – do not drink too much alcohol
- do not let someone in a bar give you a lift home unless you bring along a friend
- do not accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended - date rape drugs are sometimes put into drinks when women are not paying attention (for more information, see our Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault web page)
- drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana and nightclub drugs such as Ecstasy, love drugs and GHB are illegal (and people do on occasion die from rave party drugs). Do not use or possess drugs at any time - foreign students caught possessing marijuana would probably be deported
Strangers & Street People
Street people who ask you for money are sometimes called "panhandlers." Many of them suffer from drug and alcohol addictions. If you give them money you will be encouraging their addictions.
There are many social agencies in the community that help street people by giving free meals, shelter, and counselling. If you want to help street people please contribute to a good charity.
Please ignore panhandlers. If they continue to bother you, talk to your local Community Policing Centre.
Buses & Skytrain
- know your route and bus schedule before you leave; choose busy, well lit bus stops after dark
- sit at the front of the bus near the driver
- after 9:00 p.m. you can ask the bus driver to stop at the street closest to your destination (between bus stops); you must exit from the front door (not available on express buses)
- when on SkyTrain sit in a car with lots of people; move to another seat if someone bothers you
- all SkyTrain platforms have a yellow safety area monitored by cameras
- if you are harassed, use the emergency phones on the SkyTrain platform or emergency button on the train
Scams & Fraud
Never give or loan money to a person who approaches you on the street, and never give cash for a cheque. People will take advantage of your trust. Some examples are:
- "I need money for a hotel / bus."
- "I lost my wallet; I need money for gas for my car; I'll pay you back tomorrow."
- "I don't have a bank account in the city, can you cash my $1,000 cheque in your ATM?"
Purchases / Shopping
When you buy something, make sure that you get a receipt and are charged the right amount.
- make sure that your card is returned promptly
- never give your credit card information or copies of your card unless you are ready to buy something
- use only tutors authorized from your school
- use caution when contacting tutors through advertisements and at the library, and watch for persons who claim to be tutors or conversation partners but are not qualified (some tutors are seeking inappropriate relationships)
- never pay tutors in advance
If you rent an apartment, deal directly with the landlord and pay the damage deposit directly to him or her. Pay your rent with a cheque (never cash) and get a receipt immediately.
- don't let people into the building or "buzz them in" if you don't know them; refer repair people, delivieries, salespeople, etc. to the manager
- never hold the door open for someone you don't know
- don't prop doors open with the floor mat or other blocks (this is a major security problem)
- look through the peephole before answering the door
- don't leave notes on the door saying you are not home
- use only your last name and your first initial on the entry panel
- lock your door even if you only leave for a few minutes to go to the laundry room or pick up mail
- use locks on your windows
- get to know your neighbours
Relationships / Sexual Assault
If you want to stop a friendship, be very clear that you don't want to see the person anymore. If they continue to bother you, tell a teacher or friend about the situation.
If someone is bothering you, tell him or her to stop. For example, "GO AWAY", or "STOP BOTHERING ME!" Do not worry about hurting their feelings or being nice. If you are not clear, they might not stop. If they continue to bother you then tell somebody nearby.
Assault is illegal in Canada. A husband cannot hit his wife, a boyfriend cannot hit a girlfriend, and a roommate cannot hit another roommate.
Sexual assault or rape is when someone forces or pressures you to have sex or touch you in a sexual way when you do not want to be touched. When we think about sexual assault, many of us think about a stranger attacking in a dark alley. But most sexual assaults occur with someone we know (a date, a friend, a housemate, a tutor etc.).
You may feel embarrassed or ashamed, but rape is never your fault. Get medical treatment immediately and report it to police or a rape counsellor.
- remember, NO means NO – you have the right to say NO, no matter what has happened – be direct and assertive, and let your date know your limits clearly and firmly
- learn how to stop an unwanted sexual advance or any behaviour that makes you uncomfortable
- if you don't know your date well, stay in public places with other people nearby
- tell your host family or a friend where you are going
- be prepared to find your own way home (carry money for a taxi or transit, or call someone for a ride)
- more information can be found on our Sex Crimes Unit webpage
More information on sexual exploitation can be found in this South Vancouver Community Policing Centre brochure.
- traffic rules for bikes are the same as for cars; observe signs, and traffic signals.
- don't ride on the sidewalk or in crosswalks
- you must wear a helmet
- front and rear light are required at night
- lock your bike frame and wheel at all times to a solid bike rack (a u-lock is recommended)
Bank Machines (ATMs)
- DO NOT share your PIN (personal identification number) with anyone
- use different PINs for each debit and credit card
- memorize your PIN – DO NOT write down your PIN and carry it with you
- DO NOT deposit an unfamiliar cheque and then give cash to a stranger
- DO NOT use personal information (i.e. date of birth, social insurance number or SIN, B.C. driver's license number, or your address) as your PIN; if you lose your ID, these may be the first numbers a crook will try to access your bank account
- DO be aware of suspicious activity and overly friendly individuals loitering at ATM machines – DO NOT talk to them while banking