Is Indianapolis Safe To Visit? Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling


is indianapolis safe

Known as the Crossroads of America, Indianapolis is a city that offers mid-west charm with the amenities of a big city.

If you are thinking about visiting Indianapolis and have qualms about the safety of the city, we go you covered. We deep dived into the statistics, crime reports and talked to the residents of the city to give you a better understanding of how safe the city really is.

Indianapolis Crime Stats

If you only look at the statistics, Indianapolis is not a safe place to visit. Indianapolis consistently ranks on lists of the most dangerous cities in the United States. According to crime statistics released by the FBI, Indianapolis ranked 10th for highest violent crime rate in the country in 2019, 1,333.96 incidents per 100,000 residents. It also ranked 26th for property crime rate in the country, 4,411.87 per 100,000 residents.

The national average for violent crime is 366.7 per 100,000 residents and the national average for property crime is 2,109.9 per 100,000 residents.

Indianapolis’ violent crime rate is more than 3x the national average and its property crime rate is more twice than the national average.

In terms of violent crime rates, Oakland, Nashville, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Atlanta, all have lower violent crime rates than Indianapolis.

Violent crimes include; homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults and the violent crime rate is calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.

Indianapolis Murder Stats

In 2020 Indianapolis reported 245 homicides, which was a 37% increase from 2019, where 179 homicides were reported.

As of October 24, 2021, there have already been 230 homicides reported in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police believed by the end of the year there will be between 275 and 300 homicides.

In 2020 Indianapolis had a murder rate of 27.6 per 100,000 residents, which puts it at 10th place for highest murders rates in the country. St. Louis had the highest per capita murder rate in 2020 with 64.54 murders per 100,000 residents. Indianapolis murder rate is 2.3 times LESS than St. Louis. 65th place was Hampton, Virginia with 11.26 per 100,000.

*Murder is calculated by dividing the number of reported murders by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.

Here’s a map showing you the locations of all the homicides in Indianapolis in 2020

indianapolis homicide map 2020

Other Crime Stats

As of August 5, 2021, there have been 450 shootings in Indianapolis, which is a 28% increase from the same time period in 2020.

Burglary, larceny, aggravated assaults and robbery have all decreased in 2021 compared to 2020. While homicides, rape, and motor vehicle theft have increased in 2021.

**We usually like to provide detailed crime stats for the city we are reporting on, but the Indianapolis Police Department doesn’t make the information readily available.**

Indianapolis vs The Most Dangerous Cities In The United States

Here’s a list of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the United States ranked by violent crime rate in 2020. It can give you some perspective on Indianapolis’s violent crime rate, which is 1,333.96

Indianapolis’s violent crime rate is almost twice as less than Memphis, the most dangerous city on the list.

City Population Number of violent crimes in 2020 Rate per 100,000 people
Memphis 633,104 15,310 2,418.24
Detroit 639,111 14,370 2,248.44
Baltimore 2,707,064 9,273 2,027.01
St. Louis 301,578 6,017 1,995.17
Little Rock 202,591 3,657 1,805.11
South Bend 103,453 1,765 1,706.09
Cleveland 372,624 6,281 1,685.61
Milwaukee 577,222 9,407 1,629.70
Kansas City 508,090 7,919 1,558.58
Lansing 112,644 1,699 1,508.29
Springfield 169,176 2,545 1,504.35

*All data is from the 2019 FBI Crime Stats Report**

The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Indianapolis

Income and crime are inversely correlated. This maps gives you a really great starting point on which parts of Indianapolis are safest.

indianapolis worst neighborhoods

Most residents of Indianapolis mention that the problem areas are located on the eastside and westside of the city.

One resident mentioned that the eastside was a lost cause, ‘the east side is a totally lost cause. Just wall it off and don’t bother policing it."

Another resident mentioned that while the westside is not scary, it is not a great area either.

The Indianapolis’ Department of Public Safety has designated six of the “most challenged” areas in the city, also known as ‘places you probably don’t want to live or visit’.

“The initial six areas-of-focus, as identified by intersection, are at West 16th Street and North Tibbs Avenue, West 29th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, West 34th Street and North Illinois Street, East 38th Street and North Sherman Drive, East New York Street and North Sherman Drive, and East 42nd Street and North Post Road.”

Brightwood is another problem area which has the highest homicide rates of any neighborhood in the city.

Driving tour of the worst neighborhoods of Indianapolis

Safest neighborhoods in Indianapolis

  • Broad Ripple and SoBro – Broad Ripple is located on the northside and one of the major bar strips for the college/20s crowd. If you like to walk places, Broad Ripple has so many opportunities. The neighborhood is nice and mostly quiet.
  • Carmel – Carmel is an upper mid-class, suburban area with a lot of newer housing and buildings and minimal historical character. Has good schools and a lot of amenities.
  • Fishers – North-east Indy with a similar vibe to Carmel.
  • Brownsburg – Up and coming suburb northwest of Indy.
  • Zionsville – Surbub located in north-west Indy.
  • Fountain Square – A nice hipster area. Although the further south you go, the more sketchy it gets.
  • Meridian Kessler is great area with nice little shops, beautiful homes and a very strong community.
  • Butler-Tarkington – Is a really nice neighborhood overall with beautiful old homes with tons of character.

Is Downtown Indianapolis safe?

Downtown Indianapolis is a relatively safe area to visit and the general consensus among residents is that downtown is safe. The safest area of downtown is within the Mile Square region.

Despite being one of the distinct destinations of the city, the Canal Walk is NOT safe to walk at night. Even most residents agree that the Canal Walk gets sketchy at night and should be avoided.

Here are what some residents say about Downtown Indianapolis:

  • "The 90’s downtown was unsafe and had a reputation for being unsafe. Now downtown is probably one of the safest places in Indy."
  • "Downtown Indy is mostly safe. If you absolutely don’t want to be bothered by aggressive panhandlers, avoid the Market Street area, between Delaware and New Jersey streets."
  • "In the past 10 years Indianapolis has really gone downhill. I no longer feel safe walking downtown after dark."

Here’s a map showing you the safest part of Downtown Indianapolis:

safest areas of downtown indianapolis\

Driving tour of Downtown Indianapolis:

What do residents of Indianapolis say about its safety

  1. "Welcome to Indianapolis where you dodge potholes and bullets."
  2. "Indy is really not that dangerous as long as you mind your business and stay away from people who are in the streets. Most of the shooting are between mutual acquaintances and are usually drug related."
  3. "Crime happens for sure, but it’s not entirely as bad as some are portraying it."
  4. ‘Some B.S. is always going down on the east side"
  5. "The East and West sides of the city are the grimiest parts, especially around the inner city around 38th and Sherman. The North and South are lower crime areas."
  6. "The east side is like a war zone in some areas. Avoid at all cost."
  7. "The entire eastside between 46th and 10th. Don’t mess around in those areas or you’ll be leaving under a white sheet. If you have a death wish, drive up and down east 38th street at 2 or 3 in the morning on Friday and Saturday night."
  8. "You do not have high chance of dying by homicide anywhere in Indy, unless you are living a certain lifestyle that leads to that sort of thing. If you are a gangbanger or a drug dealer, that’s a different story. "
  9. "The highest crime-ridden parts is in the immediate areas surrounding downtown, especially north and east.
  10. "Crime in Indy is everywhere in pockets and not isolated to one part of town. There’s no “other side of the tracks”. There are blocks where the locals know not to go, rather than a side of town. Use google street view and see the places you want to go and that will give you a better idea."
  11. "You might not need to worry about getting murdered, but you should worry about getting something stolen."
  12. "Statistics don’t tell the whole story – There is a difference between “20 drug/gang-related violent crimes were reported last week on the East Side between 2am-4am” and saying “20 violent crimes were in Indianapolis last week.”
  13. "The majority of violent crimes in Indy are very concentrated and related to gangs or drugs. There is very little “random violence” like muggings."
  14. "Anywhere within the 465 loop, most nice neighborhoods border bad neighborhoods. A really nice neighborhood could have a stretch of 1-2 miles before you enter a bad neighborhood."
  15. "Indys crime rate is high as hell. The city itself is littered with run down and abandoned homes, pot-holed streets, homeless on corners and drug addicts wandering down streets. It has areas that are somewhat okay, but anyone with any kinda money lives outside of Indy in the burbs and drives to Indy for work."
  16. I – 465 runs in a complete circle around Indy. Outside of the loop are the safest neighborhoods. Inside the loop, it can get spotty.

Is Indianapolis safe at night?

Because of the layout of the city, where neighborhood boundaries are poorly defined, Indianapolis can get tricky to visit at night, especially if you are visiting or new to the city. Indianapolis is spotty and can change dramatically in a block or two. One block you’ll have really nice house and than 2 blocks away is a sketchy and crime-ridden area and for that reason we can not designate it safe at night.

Is it safe to visit alone?

Indianapolis can be a safe place to visit alone if you learn the layout of the city and learn which areas are safer and which areas you should avoid. You should also take special precaution as a solo traveler as you are more vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime.

Tips to stay safe in Indianapolis

  • Learn the layout of Indianapolis. Gain as much as knowledge as possible. Learn which parts of the city should be avoided.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Keep situational awareness at all times. Don’t bury yourself in your phone or in your headphones.
  • The road upkeep is Indy is not the best, so beware of potholes.
  • Indy is not really a walkable city, except for Downtown and Broad Ripple.
  • Never accept drink or food from any unknown person.
  • Walk with confidence and purpose. Know exactly where you are going.
  • Don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Don’t walk around alone at night. Use an Uber or get a cab.
  • Do not trust people quickly. If someone offers you something for free, be weary of their motives.
  • Keep an eye on your drink at all times, including when they make the drink.

Is Indianapolis Safe To Visit?

Statistically speaking, Indianapolis is not a safe place to visit. It has the 10th highest crime rate in the nation and its property crime rate is significantly high too.

The tricky thing about Indianapolis is the way the city is laid out. Within the ‘465 loop’, you have neighborhoods with poorly defined boundaries, where sketchy areas are littered among nice neighborhoods. Like one resident mentioned, there is no ‘other side of the tracks’. Locals know which blocks are safe and which blocks aren’t. And as a person visiting the city, you won’t be privy to this type of information, unless you really take time to learn about it.

You can mitigate your chances of becoming a victim if you learn the layout of the city and follow the safety tips above. Safe travels!

Other Cities You Might Be Interested In:

Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, 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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