San Francisco, one of America’s most iconic cities, is a top tourist destination and a major economic center. With several tech giants and major companies calling it home, many people commute from all over the Bay Area to work in the city. Despite its idyllic appearance overlooking the sparkling bay, San Francisco has a high crime rate and a reputation for being a dangerous place to live.
Is San Francisco Safe?
If you plan your visit accordingly and limit your stay to certain neighborhoods, San Francisco can be considered a relatively safe tourist destination. During the day, the city’s main tourist areas including Union Square, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf, are all considered safe. However, it is still important to be cautious as crime rates in the city are high and pickpocketing incidents are common.
San Francisco is a unique place to live in. The city’s crime rate is significantly higher than the national average by 111% and 91% higher than the average for California. Many residents express their frustration with the widespread homelessness issue, and property crime has a significant impact on several neighborhoods in San Francisco.
San Francisco Violent Crime Rates
San Francisco has a 1 in 178 chance of being affected by violent crime. The city witnessed 49 murders, 2,490 robberies, and 2,181 assaults in 2021. Despite violent crime being 40% higher than the national average, San Francisco is comparatively less violent than many other major cities. Most of the crime is related to drug addiction and property crime, which means that violent crime isn’t as widespread. Although San Francisco is considered to be a dangerous city, it has a lower rate of violent crime compared to other large cities such as Charlotte, Dallas, and Denver.
The likelihood of experiencing a violent or property crime in San Francisco greatly varies depending on the neighborhood you are in.
San Francisco Property Crime Rates
Residents of San Francisco are facing a major issue in the form of property crime. The statistics show that there is a 1 in 22 chance for residents to fall victim to property crime. The year 2022 saw a staggering number of property crimes, with over 7,000 burglaries, 6,050 motor vehicle thefts, and 26,000 thefts. To avoid becoming a victim, it is recommended to take common-sense measures such as being aware of your surroundings and not leaving your belongings in plain sight inside your vehicle. However, car thieves are known to break into vehicles in the hope of finding something valuable to steal.
Homelessness and Crime in San Francisco
The city has been experiencing a surge in property crime, and this can be attributed to the growing homeless population. Since 2017, the number of homeless individuals in the city has risen significantly, now surpassing 35,000 and continuously increasing. Unfortunately, the homeless face numerous challenges, including drug addiction and trafficking, which contribute to property crime. Additionally, many residents have voiced concerns about the numerous homeless encampments throughout the city, which pose serious health risks due to unsanitary conditions and the presence of human waste and needles in public areas.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in San Francisco
- Tenderloin District
- Hunters Point
- Mission District
- Outer Mission
- Western Addition
- South of Market SOMA
1. Tenderloin District
Downtown San Francisco’s Tenderloin District is known as the most perilous neighborhood in the city with a population of 39,000 residents. The neighborhood’s violent crime rate is alarmingly high and over 270% higher than the national average, with a prevalence of crimes like robberies and assaults. The area also has a significant concentration of drug use and homelessness. Despite its historical significance, it is crucial to exercise caution when traversing through this neighborhood.
2. Hunters Point
Hunters Point, situated close to the Port of San Francisco, is considered one of the most dangerous areas in San Francisco. With a population of 3,534, the area has been suffering from poverty for years and has been affected by several incidents involving toxic leaks and hazardous waste spills. In 2022, the area witnessed over 4,000 assault cases and more than 1,000 incidents of burglary, contributing to its exceptionally high crime rate.
3. Mission District
The Mission District, with a population of 45,039, has a crime rate that is 251% higher than the national average. Although violent crimes were frequent, the majority of the crime in the area can be attributed to property crime, with over 6,000 incidents in 2022. The COVID pandemic led to a surge in crime rates in the neighborhood, but they have since decreased. Despite this, the Mission District remains a popular tourist destination and can be considered safe as long as common sense is used.
4. Outer Mission
The Outer Mission neighborhood in San Francisco is known for its high crime rates and is considered quite dangerous. With a population of 8,546, the area has a crime rate that is 98% higher than the national average. It is important to note that property crimes, such as car theft, are more prevalent than violent crimes in this area. Therefore, it is wise to not leave any visible property in your car. Homelessness is a significant issue in the Outer Mission neighborhood, which has resulted in an increase in drug activity and petty crimes.
5. Western Addition
Western Addition, home to 12,934 people, is infamous for its high rates of property crime and muggings. Despite pockets of gentrification, homelessness is an ongoing issue that contributes to the area’s overall crime rate. Car break-ins, petty theft, and drug activity are commonplace. However, residents generally feel safe, even at night, as long as they exercise common sense.
6. South of Market (SOMA)
The South of Market neighborhood, commonly known as SOMA, is considered one of the most perilous areas in San Francisco. With a population of 11,457, the neighborhood has an overall crime rate that exceeds the national average by 67%. Despite its reputation as a hub for tech companies and a significant economic center, property crime remains rampant in SOMA. The area is plagued by frequent incidents of vehicle thefts, muggings, and property theft.