Toronto is a city that’s home to wonderful attractions and an even more wonderful community. Though this vibrant city is generally safe, it's wise to take precautions.
Whether you’re a visitor or a local, it’s important to remember that safety is always the top priority. So, here's a list of things to steer clear of in Toronto:
Tips of Caution: 9 Things You Must Avoid in Toronto
- Tips of Caution: 9 Things You Must Avoid in Toronto
- Stay away from bike couriers
- Keep away from aggressive panhandlers
- Be wary of pickpockets
- Don’t go to shady neighbourhoods
- Avoid not paying attention to weather forecasts
- Avoid taking public transport during rush hour
- Avoid not being cautious of your surroundings at night
- Try to stay away from overly crowded bars
- Avoid not being cautious around ATMs
1. Stay away from bike couriers
Toronto is home to a thriving e-commerce market, which is why you’ll often see couriers zooming up and down roads at light speed. Unfortunately, there have been numerous incidents of couriers bumping into pedestrians, causing serious injuries.
Given the escalating number of accidents involving couriers, we advise you to stay away from them. Downtown, you’ll come across speedy couriers who sometimes ignore traffic rules, so stay alert when crossing streets, especially at red lights.
For your safety, we recommend using the underground subway stations to cross roads. Toronto has an extensive subway system that has entrances and exits from every street which connect to each other underground.
2. Keep away from aggressive panhandlers
Undoubtedly, it’s commendable to help out the needy, but sometimes, things can take an unpleasant turn despite your good intentions. Although there aren’t many panhandlers in Toronto, there are times when their behaviour can become hostile.
Common locations where you’ll encounter panhandlers are areas like Yonge Street and most of downtown. They usually ask for food, money, and alcohol, but sometimes, they can harass or attack passersby in groups, so make sure to be wary at all times.
If this happens, you can file a police report at the nearest precinct or call 416-808-2222 to file a report through your phone.
When passing by panhandlers, we suggest you keep all your valuables close or hide them in a bag. This will make panhandlers less interested in you since they usually bother locals or tourists in flashy clothing.
3. Be wary of pickpockets
Despite its reputation for being a safe city, a crime-related issue to watch out for in Toronto is pickpockets. For years theft has been a big problem in TO; people have lost thousands of dollars, phones, and other valuables to pickpockets.
Pickpockets are usually found around tourist-heavy areas, where large crowds are abundant and tight spaces make it hard to move. Thankfully, the city has cracked down on the issue through patrol teams and better security measures around the city.
We advise wearing clothes with zippered and/or jetted pockets to avoid getting pickpocketed. Jackets with buttoned pockets are also great at preventing pickpockets.
4. Don’t go to shady neighbourhoods
Although TO is generally safe, there are still a bunch of areas that people should avoid. Incidents like theft and occasional gang activities tend to occur in less developed parts of the city.
Many low-income areas with higher crime rates are located east downtown, which generally lacks tourist areas. But don’t worry; even if you wander into these areas, the likelihood of encountering trouble is minimal, thanks to the vigilant 24/7 street patrols.
One neighbourhood you really want to stay clear of is Regent Park. The area has an assault rate of 926.061 and a robbery rate of 163.236 per 100,000 people based on police data from 2022.
5. Avoid not paying attention to weather forecasts
One of the most important things that you should always note about Toronto is its unpredictable weather. The city climate can change erratically, going from rainy to hot to chilly within a couple of days—which tourists often overlook when visiting TO.
Thankfully, staying informed is simple; all you need to do is closely monitor the city’s daily forecast. The weather forecast is a huge help because it can help you plan what clothes to bring and save you from getting soaked in your summer clothes.
We suggest bringing a packable raincoat or jacket with you wherever you go in case it rains. Although forecasts are reliable, there are things they can not predict like sunshowers or rain during sunny days.
6. Avoid taking public transport during rush hour
Despite the city’s reliable and accessible public transport, we suggest avoiding it during rush hours (4 PM – 7 PM). Public transport has been getting more cramped as the city’s population grows, and getting a seat on a train during rush hour is almost impossible.
The congestion during rush hour is so intense that it can feel suffocating. This crowding also makes it hard to detect pickpockets onboard since people usually stand close to one another.
If you need to get home during rush hour but every transport option is unavailable, you can always bike home! There are rentals around Toronto, and there’s an E-bike app called CycleFinder that lets you rent a bike anywhere in the city for a small fee.
7. Avoid not being cautious of your surroundings at night
At night, Toronto is a safe and walkable city, but you still have to be wary of your surroundings. Crime is more rampant at night, so avoid walking into dark alleys, secluded areas, and along shady areas.
The chances of running into trouble are higher at night, which is why we suggest walking along brightly lit and crowded areas. Also, try to avoid walking by yourself as much as possible.
If you’re walking the streets of downtown Toronto, we suggest sticking to the west side. This area is well-developed and has a low crime rate, so you can expect well-lit streets everywhere.
8. Try to stay away from overly crowded bars
It’s no secret Toronto’s bustling nightlife scene is filled with crowds looking to have fun. Unfortunately, overcrowded bars can sometimes turn rowdy, with fights breaking out due to alcohol-related issues.
Also, overcrowded bars often invite pickpockets looking to take advantage of the tight spaces. Numerous cases have been reported of people losing their valuables in crowded bars and clubs.
If you really want to grab a drink, we advise visiting a Jazz bar instead. Not only is there good music and sweet cocktails, but there are usually fewer people, so you can have a peaceful night of drinking.
9. Avoid not being cautious around ATMs
When you’re using an ATM, remember to be wary of your surroundings. Withdrawing money in public is dangerous, as it attracts shady individuals.
We advise using ATMs in brightly lit areas or places where security is high. Also, it’s a smart idea to withdraw money from an ATM within a bank.
Watch out for ATM skimmers when withdrawing, as they can steal your card information. You can identify a skimmer by feeling if the card reader slot is loose, if it doesn’t match the ATM’s colour scheme, and if the ATM keyboard feels wonky.