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?
Statistically speaking, Detroit is not the safest place to visit. In 2021, Detroit had a violent crime rate of 2294.04 per 100,00 people and is one of the highest crimes rates in the nation.
It’s murder rate of 47.91 per 100,000 people is also one of the highest in the nation and is on par with cities like Memphis, Baltimore and New Orleans.
However as a tourist, you can have a relatively safe experience as long as you stay in touristy areas and do not stray off the beaten path and into the neighborhoods were violent crime is concentrated.
Here’s a graph showing you how Detroit’s crime rate compares to other major cities in the United States
Detroit’s Crime Rates
Violent Crime Rate
In 2021, Detroit reported 14,509 violent crimes and had a violent crime rate of 47.91 per 100,000 people, a 1% increase over 2020, where 14,370 violent crimes were reported.
Here’s a graph showing you how violent crime has trended in Detroit over a 12 year period.
- Violent crime peaked in 2011 when there were 15,254 violent crimes reported.
- Detroit’s violent crime rate is more than 5 times greater than the national average.
In 2021, Detroit reported 303 murders and had a murder rate of 47.91 per 100,000 people, a 7.6% decrease over 2020, where 328 homicides were reported.
- Homicides peaked in 2012 when there were 386 murders were reported.
- Detroit’s crime rate is more than 7 times greater than the national average.
- Detroit has the one of the highest murder rates in the nation.
Here’s a graph that shows you how Detroit’s murder rate compares to other cities with high murder rates.
Property Crime Rate
In 2020 Detroit reported 22,607 property crimes and had a property crime rate of 3,432.89 per 100,000 people.
- Detroit’s property crime rate is nearly twice as high as the national average.
- Year over year property crime in Detroit has increased by 6.7%.
Here’s a map showing you how property crime has trended in Detroit over a 12 year period.
Detroit Crime Stats
Here’s a breakdown of all the crimes in the city for 2020 compared to 2019:
Motor Vehicle Theft
**All data is from the FBI Crime Data Explorer**
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.
Detroit’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods
- Highland Park
- North End
- East Village
- Regent Park
- 7 Mile Road
Here’s Maps Showing You The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In Detroit
Safest Neighborhoods In Detroit
- New Center
- Eastern Market
Is Downtown Detroit safe to visit?
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?
- 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.
- Detroit is far from the worst city in the United States, but it can go from normal to dangerous pretty quickly
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you’re just sticking to the downtown area and the main sights of the city there’s nothing to worry about.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stay in the 7.2 and you’re fine. Quick map
- 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.