For any who don’t live there, California conjures up the image of tanned, laid-back beach-goers.
Fifty miles inland, however, the scene changes. Not too far from glamorous Los Angeles or beautiful Laguna Beach, San Bernardino is less known for the fun and sun and more known for crime statistics, being one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
Just before the pandemic, CBS Local Los Angeles rated San Bernardino the most dangerous city in California and the third most dangerous city in the United States.
Another source placed it at #10 and yet another source put it at #2. No matter which is accurate, San Bernardino is not a very safe place and you should be cautious if you are to visit.
San Bernardino Crime Stats
According to one set of statistics, a person has a 1 in 66 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in San Bernardino, whereas they have only a 1 in 227 chance in the whole state of California. The city also has a much higher rate of burglary, rape, robbery, and theft per 1,000 people than the whole of the U.S.
The most recent, complete set of statistics comes from the San Bernadrdino Sheriff’s Office and are for 2019 and 2020:
*Criminal Threat offenses previously reported to DOJ as Part II crimes were reported to DOJ as Aggravated Assaults in 2019.
(map via CrimeGrade)
San Bernardino Neighborhoods To Avoid
The city center is the most dangerous area. This includes:
- Stadium West
- East Valley
- Little West
- Valley View
- Lankershim and Warm Springs
- Perris Hill
Parts of Rialto, Highland, and Redlands can also be dicey.
Is Downtown San Bernardino Safe?
Downtown San Bernardino is just above the center of the city. On the Crime Grade map, it’s solidly orange, some parts darker than others. As it’s bordered by Feldheym and Perris Hill, it’s hardly out of deep water. To the north and west, things don’t get much better. Suffice to say that Downtown is just as bad as the rest of the city.
The Safest Neighborhoods in San Bernardino
As with many places, the safest area are further out from the center in the less urban areas. Top ranking are:
- Arrowhead Springs, Rimforest
- Devore Heights
- Cajon (Junction)
In fact, these three are well outside the city center, mostly nestled along the San Bernardino National Forest.
The safest rated neighborhood closest to the city center is Patton in the northeast, then Pacific, according to one crime map.
Another has Victoria (North Loma Linda and Riverview) in the green – just about the only green patch near the city center
What Do Residents Say About San Bernardino?
About the nice parts of San Bernardino:
- "Most of San Bernardino should be avoided. I say that as someone who was born and raised there."
- "The only nice area in San Bernardino is around CSUSB, the rest of the place is either sketchy or completely bombed out."
- "If you stay near the interchange of the 215 and the 10 it’s not so bad. No seriously when I say near I mean no more than a mile or so. Past that I take no responsibility."
- "I’m from South Central, and I can assure you, San Bernardino is the ghetto-ist place I’ve been. There’s just an overall depressing vibe about it, everything and most people are sketchy there. I went to Jack-in-the-Box for a quick road snack, and I wanted to jump back in the car asap..
About moving to San Bernardino:
- There are a lot of really bad parts of San Bernardino. If I were you I would live in Redlands or Riverside or some other town that’s close by.
Is It Safe At Night?
A point made by several residents reviewing San Bernardino is that they don’t go out at night. Many don’t feel safe and prefer to stay home.
Without knowing which neighborhood they live in, it’s hard to determine if this is just one specific area or if it’s a more widespread concern across the city.
Safe for woman alone?
We imagine that if something brought you to San Bernardino for a visit, it’d be something important. Based on the crime stats and the city’s own residents’ reviews, it doesn’t seem like San Bernardino would be a pampering vacation.
Therefore, if you need to go we wouldn’t stop you, just advise caution.
The best bet seems to be in at night, making sure you’ve gotten back to your accommodation with plenty of time to unwind in the safety of your hotel room or AirBnB.
If you can, avoid the dangerous neighborhoods listed. If it’s unavoidable, we’d advise letting a friend or family member know your plans for the day – where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
If you’re staying at a hotel, you could even talk to the front desk to know when to expect you back.
It’d give you more peace of mind, too, if you text friends or family what you’re doing throughout the day.
Send them pictures or comments on what you see and do. It can relax you, being in touch with familiar people.
- Lock your car. Property crime is high and you don’t want to be an easy target. This goes for your accommodation, too!
- Don’t go out at night if you can avoid it. If you must, try to go with someone you know.
- Don’t wander in unfamiliar areas. San Bernardino isn’t quite the get-lost-for-fun city.
California’s state motto may be Eureka! but the only thing to find in San Bernardino is a city looking for love.
Crime rates may fluctuate but remain quite high. Residents and outsiders alike agree that there are plenty of better places to be and good wishes will only last for so long.
As many residents wonder where exactly their tax dollars go, we hope that California finds a way to put some love into this city.
A better quality of life is important for its residents, but will also help bring in more visitors.
Hopefully, San Bernardino will eventually climb its way down the crime ladder.