MANY PEOPLE ASK US ‘IS RIGA A SAFE CITY?’
The short answer, probably Yes :)
Riga is a relatively safe city when compared to other cities in Europe. As with all big cities you must be aware of your surroundings.
Important numbers to note down when travelling to Riga
Tourist Police: +371 67181818
Pick pocketing is common within the tourist areas of Riga, specifically in the central market and between the bus station tunnel and the Old Town, along Valnu Street. Common places of pickpocket activity are doorways of places where lots of tourists enter, like churches. As people squeeze in, they squeeze the wallets out! The Central market has always been an area to watch out for, I had my bag 'dipped' in once and have seen many people fall victim to the pick pockets. It is one of those crimes that is always going to be a thing in every city and the usually police have limited powers when it comes to petty theft, they can prevent it but it is very hard to catch the thieves in the act, let alone get them to appear in court.
Driving around Riga and Latvia, you need to be cautious and use seatbelts, signalling is sometimes forgotten, speeding is a real issue as is drunk driving. As a pedestrian or cyclist you need to be very aware that not all drivers are considerate to your right of way when crossing the streets.
There were some scams in the city in the past that one should be aware of, such as the money switch. It was a simple trick that people did; they approach with hand full of coins and want to change them for a bank note as ‘this is needed to pay for my car park’ for example. The thing is that the coins were Lithuanian and not Latvian and their value was 5 times less. Personally I have seen this scam operate over the years and saw many people falling for it, partly because of the smooth English talking scam artist who carried it out. Now here is the good news, this scam doesn't work any more. Why? Because Latvia is a member of the Euro currency as of 2013. The bad news is the guy who used to be the master of this trick is still walking around, smooth talking tourists, I can only imagine how he squeezes money out of people now!
Other scams include young ladies luring men into bars, where drinks are extremely expensive and, after ordering their own drinks, the unsuspecting men are left with a large bill. Riga’s strip clubs also have been known to overcharge, but it could be the case that they are cleaning their act up a little, although I would urge all of you to not to fund and encourage such business. Again, this is a bit of a dated scam to be honest and although I have heard of men taking young ladies back to hotels and waking up with no belongings, lost wedding rings etc, it is probably best to be aware around strangers. Especially for men who are drunk.
Violence in Riga mostly can be found in bars and around drunk people. Avoid Old Riga at night if you want some peace and quiet and just be aware of surroundings. Again this mostly effects men, alcohol and general bad behaviour.
Having said this, Latvia has a very high homicide rate, in fact 2018-2019 it was the highest per capita in the EU. As a tourist however you wont be exposed to this as a general rule, as much of the homicide is committed by people who know each other and within the capital it is not something you hear about so much. There is an interesting article to read about it here
Riga is a beautiful city, if you respect it and are aware of your surroundings, Riga will respect you. The city Police has become a lot more approachable in recent years. If you have any issues, locate a city police person and ask for their assistance, You can call them on the tourist number +371 67181818