Is Detroit Safe To Visit? (Crime Rate And Crime Statistics)


If you are thinking about visiting Detroit and have some qualms about the safety of the city, we got you covered.

We are going to deep dive into the statistics, look at some maps, graphs and talk to the residents of the city to give you a better understanding of how safe Detroit really is.

Is Detroit Safe To Visit?

is detroit safe

Statistically speaking, Detroit is not a safe place to visit. Out of the 100 most populous cities in the United States, Detroit’s violent crime rate ranks 2nd highest.

In 2020, Detroit had a violent crime rate of 2,248.44 per 100,000 people and is on par with cities like Memphis and St. Louis.

It’s murder rate of 51 per 100,000 people ranked 5th highest in the nation.

What happened to Detroit?

Detroit was built around only one industry, which was ultimately its downfall.

It grew exponentially when the Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, Chrysler) was thriving, but when the Asian imports began outpacing its American counterparts, they had to lower its manufacturing costs in order to compete.

They did that by outsourcing jobs to Asia, Mexico etc and as car manufacturing went overseas, nothing replaced it.

Many people in Detroit began losing their jobs and left the city in what appeared to be a mass exodus.

People with money began to leave the area as the city became poorer.

There was no demand to buy properties or start businesses because no one wanted to live there.

Another thing that needs to be understood is the size of Detroit… it’s huge, 138sq miles huge. You can fit San Francisco, Manhattan and Boston inside Detroit!

After a huge swath of residents left the city as the jobs disappeared, it left pockets of people spread out all over the city.

The local government was stuck with the arduous task of trying to maintain the city’s infrastructure to serve the entire city while only receiving taxes from the left over population, which was not sustainable.

The police became severely underfunded and the city went to hell with crime.

To sum it up, Detroit has no core industry anymore, the wealthy people are long gone, vacant properties don’t generate taxes and all the things that makes a city nice cost money, which Detroit has none.

What’s is Detroit’s Crime Rate?

In 2020 Detroit reported 14,370 violent crimes and had a crime rate of 2,248.44 per 100,000 residents. Detroit’s crime rate is one of the highest in the nation and is 5.6 times greater than the national average.

Detroit is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States

Here’s a list of the top 17 most dangerous cities in the United States ranked by crime rates. Detroit ranks second on the list and slightly trails Memphis.

Detroit’s Crime Rates

Violent Crime Rate

Here’s a map showing you how violent crime has trended in Detroit over a 30 year period.

  • Violent crime peaked in 1991 when there were 28,262 violent crimes reported and the city had a violent crime rate of roughly 2,749.37 per 100,000 people.
  • Violent crime has decreased over 49% from it’s 30-year high in 1991.

Murder Rate

In 2020, Detroit reported 328 murders, a 17% increase over 2019, where 280 homicides were reported

  • In 2020 Detroit had a homicide rate of 51 per 100,000 people.
  • Detroit has a similar homicide rate to cities like Cleveland, Memphis and New Orleans.
  • Homicides peaked in 1991 when there were 615 murders reported and the city had a murder rate of roughly 60 per 100,000 people.
  • Detroit has the 5th highest murder rate in the country.

Property Crime Rate

In 2020 Detroit reported 21,940 property crimes and had a property crime rate of 3,432.89 per 100,000 people.

  • The national average for property crime is 1958.2 per 100,000 residents. Detroit’s property crime rate is 1.75 times greater the national average.
  • Year over year property crime in Detroit has decreased by 34%.
  • Detroit has a similar property crime rate to Jacksonville, Corpus Christi and Stockton.

Here’s a map showing you how property crime has trended in Detroit over a 30 year period.

  • Property crime peaked in 1991 when there were 98,818 property crimes reported and the city had a property crime rate of roughly 9,613.15per 100,000 people.
  • Property crime has decreased over 78% from it’s 30-year high in 1991.

Detroit Crime Stats

Here’s a breakdown of all the crimes in the city for 2020 compared to 2019:

2019

2020

Percent Change

Homicide

280

328

17.1%

Rape

958

676

-29.4%

Robbery

2,342

1,848

-21.1%

Aggravated Assault

9,454

11,518

21.8%

Burglary

6,841

4,361

-36.3%

Larceny/Theft

14,880

11,239

-24.5%

Motor Vehicle Theft

6,890

5,578

-19.0%

Arson

790

762

-3.5%

TOTALS

42,435

36,310

-14.4%

**All data is from the FBI Crime Data Explorer**

How much has crime increased in Detroit?

In 2020, Detroit reported 42,435 total crimes, which is a 14.4% decrease over 2019.

In 2020, Detroit reported 14,370 violent crimes, which is a 10.3% increase over 2019.

In 2020, Detroit reported 328 murders, which is a 17% increase over 2019.

In 2020, Detroit reported 21,940 property crimes, which is a 34% decrease over 2019.

Detroit’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Delray
  • Springwell
  • Highland Park
  • Warrendale
  • Brightmoor
  • North End
  • East Village
  • Regent Park
  • Morningside
  • Gratiot
  • Riverbend
  • Foxcreek
  • 7 Mile Road

Here’s Maps Showing You The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In Detroit

detroits worst neighborhoods

Safest Neighborhoods In Detroit

detroit safest neighborhoods

  • Midtown
  • Corktown
  • New Center
  • Downtown
  • Eastern Market

Is Downtown Detroit safe to visit?

is downtown detroit safe

You should have no qualms about visiting downtown. It is a relatively safe area with a strong police presence. There have been a lot of investment into the renovation of Downtown and it has been completely transformed over the last decade. It used to be a ghost town and now it’s a thriving center with restaurants, breweries, bars, museums, music venues, etc.

On the weekends there’s lots of night clubs, bars, concerts and art shows going on. It’s totally safe to just barhop and walk around town.

Although Downtown is relatively safe compared to other parts of the city, that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Always keep your wits about you, trust your intuition and practice common street smarts.

What do residents of Detroit say about it’s safety?

  1. The very center of the city, where the theater and stadium and Eastern Market and the General Motors buildings are, is beautiful. Across the highway, it’s as if you are entering an ancient ruin of a city in decay. The further you go west, the more affluent it becomes. The outer rim of the city has very nice communities with wealthy people.
  2. Detroit is far from the worst city in the United States, but it can go from normal to dangerous pretty quickly
  3. Detroit is big and and spread out and the police department often find themselves overwhelmed, which makes crime worse, which in turn requires more police attention that it can’t give, which resets the cycle. There is no way they can put a cop on every corner like they did in New York, because Detroit simply doesn’t have the tax base to pay for it.
  4. I’ve lived my entire life in Detroit but I feel no obligation to defend it. It is a dump. It doesn’t take too many times getting your car broken into, your window smashed, your belongings stolen, or prostitutes working out of a burnt out building to make you question just how great this area really is.
  5. I live very close to city limits and I have lived in a several other major metropolitan areas. Never have I seen such widespread destruction like I do in Detroit. The level of poverty is astounding. The complete and utter lack of commerce. An extremely over-spread police and fire department. Public works completely overwhelmed and under-performing. A laughing stock of a public school system. Seriously, the school system is so bad that they only graduate 64% of kids from high school; a statistic that I assert is likely fabricated. A government so corrupted and under qualified that it’s glaring to everyone who glances at it. Lack of infrastructure. No real public transportation. No grocery stores. Illiteracy rates near the top of the developed world. There’s good things happening in Detroit. But, the overwhelming percentage of the city is in a very, very concerning condition.
  6. It really depends on which part of the city you are in. Some areas are decent, some are practically post-apocalyptic. Because of the vastly diminished population and corresponding tax revenue, they’ve had to practically withdraw things like police and fire services from the most abandoned areas to focus on the more populated areas.
  7. Detroit has a bad reputation but parts of it is actually thriving and you can all sorts of hidden gems. Like any city, there are area you don’t want to go to; the further north you get towards 8-Mile along Woodward gets sketchy.
  8. If you’re just sticking to the downtown area and the main sights of the city there’s nothing to worry about.
  9. Much like any other big city, Detroit has crime, and it’s mostly in communities outside the downtown area. The “east side” is notorious for blocks and blocks of abandoned houses. Murders are still prevalent, but it’s much less common than it used to be. The chances of something bad happening to you in a “safe” area are pretty low.
  10. Downtown is beautiful, and perfectly safe. The rest of the city is pretty fucked up, but if you’re aware of your surroundings, you’re fine.
  11. A lot of the crime and violence in Detroit is happening in areas you aren’t going to visit anyways. It is best just to be aware of their location, so you don’t accidentally stumble into them.
  12. Detroit is a place that has good areas and rough area right next to each other, and it’s a big city. It’s hard to gauge unless you know the area.
  13. Stay in the 7.2 and you’re fine. Quick map
  14. From east to west, 7 mile is “hood”. The most dangerous stretch is from the I-75 area to Woodward and 7 mile and Gratiot is a notorious hot spots for gang violence and the like.

Tips to stay safe while visiting Detroit

  • Create a detailed itinerary of places you want to visit, scout out the locations ahead of time using Google Street View and see if it’s an area that you are comfortable with visiting.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car. Or if you cant avoid it, don’t leave it in plain sight.
  • Avoid stopping for gas late at night in run down areas.
  • A lot of the crime and violence in Detroit is happening in areas you aren’t going to visit anyways. It is best to be knowledgeable of those locations, so you don’t accidentally stumble into them.
  • Use your eyes. Does the area look sketchy? Are there people roaming the streets as if they’re patrolling? Are there gang taggings sprayed all over walls and on signs? Are the houses dilapidated? Detroit is literally block by block and you need to be mindful enough to stay out of these areas.
  • Don’t escalate confrontations.
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, get out of there
  • Stay away from drugs, drug dealers and areas consumed by drugs. Areas with high drug use are usually places with high crime rates. Getting high is not worth it compared to your safety.
  • Avoid using public transportation late at night. Hail a taxi or call an Uber instead.
  • Avoid alleys. It might seem like common sense, but you’d be amazed how many people still do it.
  • Don’t make yourself look like an easy target and nobody is going to mess with you.
  • It’s almost never a good idea to wonder around at night alone, outside of the downtown and midtown areas.
  • Make sure you gas tank is full. The last thing you want is to have pull over into a sketchy neighborhood and look for a gas station.
  • Walk with a purpose. Know where you are going ahead of time.

Is it safe to drive/walk around at night?

Downtown and midtown are pretty safe to drive around at night.

When you step out of Downtown and into the inner city, that can be a entirely different story.

It is best for your own safety to not drive or walk around the neighborhoods outside of Downtown Detroit, especially at night.

If you stay within this 7.2 square miles of downtown, you should be fine.

We also recommend that you avoid walking alone at night. If you don’t have a companion, please be super cautious of your surroundings, don’t wear headphones, stay off your phone and stay in well-lit areas.

What is the significance of Detroit’s 8 mile road?

Detroit’s 8 Mile Road runs east to west. To the north of it are suburban Macomb and Oakland counties. To the south of it is Wayne County and the city of Detroit.

It is the de-facto dividing line of the rich from the poor, the black from the white, the haves from the have-nots.

It is both a physical barrier and a psychological one.

Final thoughts on the safety of Detroit

There’s no skirting around it, Detroit has a lot of crime, it has a lot of murders and it consistently tops the list of most dangerous cities in the United States.

If you are going to visit, the downtown area of Detroit is generally safe and residents of the city resoundingly agree that you should not encounters problems if you stay within the boundaries of downtown and midtown.

When you stray out of downtown and into the neighborhoods below 8 mile road, you start to encounter sketchy, gang infested neighborhoods.

Hopefully the revitalization of the downtown area can spread its luster amongst the surrounding communities and hopefully one day we can see Detroit unhinged from the shackles of crime and see it in its former glory.

Other Cities You Might Be Interested In:

Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Barstow, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Reno, San Antonio, San Bernardino, San Jose, Slab City, St. Louis, Stockton

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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