Is San Diego Safe? (2021 Crime Rates And Crime Stats)


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

Lets deep dive into the some crime statistics and crime rates and see how safe or dangerous San Diego really is.

What is San Diego’s Crime Rate?

In 2021 San Diego reported 5,875 violent crimes and had a crime rate of 421.45 per 100,000 residents. San Diego’ crime rate is on par with the national average.

Here’s a table showing you the crime rate over the last 4 years.

Population

Violent Crime

San Diego Crime Rate

2018

1,425,976

5,360

375.88

2019

1,423,851

5,215

366.26

2020

1,386,932

5,303

382.35

2021

1,394,005

5,875

421.45

San Diego’s Crime Rate Breakdown

Violent Crime Rate

In 2021, San Diego reported 5,875 violent crimes: 57 homicides, 571 rapes, 1,091 robberies and 4,156 aggravated assaults.

San Diego has a similar violent crime rate to cities like Austin, San Jose and El Paso.

You have a 1 in 237 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in San Diego.

Here’s a map showing you how violent crime has trended in San Diego over a 12 year period.

Violent crimes in San Diego

*Violent crimes include; homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults.

San Diego’s Murder Rate

In 2021, San Diego reported 57 murders and had a murder rate of 4.09 per 100,000 residents.

San Diego’ murder rate is 37% less than the national average.

San Diego has a similar homicide rate to cities like Arlington and Seattle.

You have a 1 in 24,456 chance of becoming a victim of murder in San Diego.

Here’s a map showing you how murders have trended over the last 12 years in San Diego.

Homicides in San Diego

San Diego Property Crime Rate

In 2020 San Diego reported 27,633 property crimes and had a property crime rate of 1,982.27 per 100,000 residents.

San Diego’ property crime rate is 1.4 times greater the national average.

San Diego has a similar property crime rate to Lousiville, and Fort Lauderdale.

You have a 1 in 50 chance of becoming a victim of property crime in San Diego.

Here’s a map showing you how property crime has trended in San Diego over a 12 year period.

property crimes in San Diego

*Property crimes include; burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson

San Diego’s crime rate vs other cities in California (2020)

Here’e how San Diego’s crime rate compared to other cities in California. San Diego had the 3rd lowest crime rate of all the cities listed in 2020.

Population (2020)

Crime Rate (2020)

1. Oakland

440,646

1,282.89

2. Stockton

320,804

1,254.04

3. Los Angeles

3,898,747

740.80

4. Sacramento

524,943

675.69

5. Fresno

542,107

656.70

6. San Francisco

873,965

548.76

7. Long Beach

466,742

501.99

8. Bakersfield

403,455

497.45

9. Riverside

314,998

473.34

10. Santa Ana

310,227

460.63

11. San Jose

1,013,240

431.78

12. San Diego

1,386,932

382.35

13. Anaheim

346,824

357.82

14. Irvine

307,670

49.40

San Diego Crime Rate Comparison

Here’s a list of the top 20 most dangerous cities in the United States ranked by violent crime rates. San Diego’s crime rate is 5.7 times less than Memphis, the most dangerous city on the list.

San Diego crime rate vs most dangerous cities us

How are San Diego’s crime rates calculated?

Crime rate is calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.

For example, in 2021 there were 57 murders in San Diego and the population was 1,394,005. This equals a murder rate of 4.09 per 100,000 residents.

San Diego’s Crime Statistics

Here’s a breakdown of all the crimes in the city for 2020 and 2021

2020

2021

Percent Change

Homicide

56

57

2%

Rape

485

571

18%

Robbery

1,207

1,091

-10%

Aggravated Assault

3,555

4,156

17%

VIOLENT CRIME TOTALS

5,303

5,875

11%

Burglary

3,324

3,393

2%

Larceny/Theft

16,044

18,075

13%

Motor Vehicle Theft

4,953

6,165

24%

PROPERTY CRIME TOTALS

24,321

27,633

14%

TOTALS

29,624

33,508

13%

**All data is from the San Diego Police Department and cross referenced with the FBI UCR**

How much has crime increased in San Diego?

In 2021, San Diego reported 33,508 total crimes, which is a 13% increase over 2020.

In 2021, San Diego reported 5,875 violent crimes, which is a 11% increase over 2020.

In 2021, San Diego reported 57 murders, which is a 2% increase over 2020.

In 2021, San Diego reported 27,633 property crimes, which is a 14% decrease over 2020.

How bad is crime in San Diego?

Statistically speaking, crime in San Diego is not bad. Violent crime and property crime have increased in the city but it is still relatively low compared to other major metropolitan cities.

Neighborhoods in San Diego to avoid

Here’s a map showing you the rougher neighborhoods in San Diego. You should avoid walking through these neighborhoods at night.

neighborhoods to avoid in San Diego

  • Barrio Logan
  • National City
  • East Village
  • City Heights
  • Spring Valley
  • Lemon Grove
  • Encanto
  • Skyline
  • Logan Heights
  • Lincoln Park

Is Downtown San Diego safe?

is downtown san diego safe

Downtown San Diego is generally a safe area. Some parts of downtown are worse than others but they are not dangerous per se.

In downtown you can expect drunken behavior among the bar patrons and some erratic behavior from homeless people. If you’re someone that gets rattled easily, it’s probably not the place for you at night.

Be careful not to wander too far south and east, which will land you in the Barrio Logan and Logan Heights neighborhood, which is certainly not an area you want to wander around at night.

Are San Diego Beaches Safe?

The beaches in San Diego which includes beaches like Pacific Beach (PB), Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and more are generally safe to visit.

The biggest problems around the beach areas are property crime. You should always keep an eye on your belongings and to never leave valuables in your car.

In Pacific Beach there is a lot of partying around the bars and its not uncommon to see a lot of drunken behavior, including fights.

Is the public transportation in San Diego safe?

The public transportation system in San Diego is handled by the MTS and it offers many routes that interweave throughout the entire city.

The MTS is generally a safe option to use during normal commuting hours (7am – 6pm), however we recommend that you use a taxi or ride sharing service outside of those hours.

Is San Diego safe at night?

San Diego is generally safe at night as long as you stay out of the problem areas listed above. Be aware that streets and squares that are perfectly safe to visit in the daytime can be questionable and sketchy at night. Stay in well lit and populated places at night and avoid walking through desolate areas.

What do residents of San Diego say about it’s safety?

  1. "San Diego is statistically the safest large city in the US. I grew up in Detroit and the rough parts there are exponentially worse than the very worst parts of SD. Unless you’re planning on walking through the southern neighborhoods at night, there’s nothing to worry about."
  2. "The worst areas in San Diego county would be considered decent in most other places."
  3. "If you’re used to other big cities, then there are no bad parts of San Diego. There is nothing similar to East Saint Louis, South Chicago or Detroit."
  4. "San Diego is the safest big city in the US and it is only rivaled by New York City in violent crime and murder per capita."
  5. "Everything north of the 8 fwy is comfortable for people who are only used to the suburbs."
  6. "Overall, the city is safe during the daytime even in the rougher neighborhoods. Just avoid the non-touristy areas at night and you should be okay."
  7. The area east of downtown around the 94 freeway is the rougher part of town. There is nothing really out there anyways."
  8. "Southeast San Diego would be considered the “ghetto” part of San Diego. I wouldn’t walk around Encanto or Lincoln Heights at nights."
  9. "San Diego is pretty safe overall with pockets of sketchy areas. These sketchy areas have nothing to offer tourist, so it shouldn’t be a problem"
  10. "San Diego is fairly safe, especially if you stick to the more touristy areas like downtown, Pacific Beach and La Jolla."

Tips to stay safe while visiting San Diego

  • Research and learn the layout of the city! Some signs to look for when you are getting into a sketchy area; abandoned buildings, metal bars on windows, liquor stores, cash checking places, etc.
  • Don’t wander around the rougher areas at night.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings when walking and exploring. Don’t mindlessly scroll through your phone or bury your self in your headphones.
  • As a woman. Don’t walk alone at night anywhere while intoxicated. Go in a group, grab a cab, or get an uber.
  • Avoid walking by yourself at night.
  • Never walk through an alley or desolate area, especially at night. Stay in well lit and well populated places.
  • Always keep an eye on your drin. Do not accept an open drink from anybody, except the bartender.
  • Always look like you know where you are going. Walk with purpose and confidence and do not reply to people who approach you for money.
  • Don’t advertise of flaunt your wealth ! Don’t wear your Rolex or carry your Gucci purse.
  • Mind your own business. If things look like they are getting rough or testy, leave immediately.
  • If you are getting robbed accept it and don’t be a hero. Hand over what they want. Your life is not worth your wallet or cellphone.

Is San Diego safe?

Statistically speaking, San Diego is a safe city. It’s violent crime rate of 421.45 per 100,000 residents and its property crime rate of 1,982.27 per 100,000 residents, hover around the national average and are not indicative of an unsafe city.

Here’s a scale to give you some perspective on San Diego’ crime rate:

San Diego crime rate

Facts about San Diego

  • The population of San Diego in 2021 was 1,394,005 and is the 46th most populous city in the United States.
  • The city covers a land area of 325.88 sq mi square miles.
  • The median income for a household in the city was $83,454. The per capita income for the city was $43,090.
  • 11.8% of the population live below the poverty line.
  • The median home value in San Diego is $900K in 2022.
  • In 2022, the average rent for a San Diego 2-bedroom apartment is $3,095.
  • 88.8% of residents 25 and older is a high school graduate. 46.7% of residents 25 and older has a bachelors degree or higher.

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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