The coastal city of San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States. Often called the “Birthplace of California,” San Diego is known for its beautiful weather, pristine beaches, and thriving economy. There are tons of benefits to living in San Diego – among them are the diversity, the healthcare, the job opportunities. But like any big city, safety is definitely an important factor to consider when thinking about relocating to San Diego.
Unfortunately, crime is something that citizens have to deal with no matter where they live. Major metropolises like San Diego often have more crime on their hands. However, San Diego is considered a very safe place to live overall! In fact, Business Insider ranked San Diego as the 20th safest city in the US in 2013. San Diego continues to land on these kinds of lists, ranking 12th safest city in American by US News & World Report in 2019. Whether you’re curious about San Diego’s crime stats or considering relocating here, it’s important to look at the overall crime rate, property crimes, and violent crimes.
Understanding the San Diego Crime Rate
Researchers divide crime into three categories: overall/total crime rates, violent crime, and property crime. Incidents of assault, murder, rape, assault, and kidnapping fall under violent crime. Property crimes include incidents like auto theft, burglary, robbery, arson, and vandalism. Total crime accounts for property and violent crime combined. When determining the actual rates, the number of crimes reported is divided by the population of the city, then multiplied by 100,000. These stats come from the 2019 FBI crime stats.
Here’s a look at San Diego’s overall crime statistics:
- San Diego violent crime rate: 373 per 100,000
- San Diego total crimes reported: 32,356
- San Diego property crime rate: 1,909 per 100,000
A great way to get a detailed understanding of crime in any city is by studying crime maps. Cities and police departments often make their statistics public, and provide interactive maps so residents, tourists, and prospective residents can stay up to date with crime trends. The City of San Diego website provides a lot of data dating back to 1950. There is also a user-friendly San Diego interactive crime map. If you would like to view San Diego’s crime map, click here.
Violent Crime in San Diego
- San Diego murder rate: 2.4 per 100,000 people
- San Diego total violent crimes: 5,360
- San Diego violent crime rate: 373 per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in San Diego: 1 in 277
Crime in San Diego has been on a steady decline since 1989, and it reached a 58 year low in 2017. That year, violent crime rates were 3.7 per 100,000 people, which was the lowest of all the country’s ten largest cities. Violent crime rates continue to decline by about 3% year over year.
With 5,360 violent crimes reported in 2019, San Diego’s violent crime rate is 5% lower than the national average. The overwhelming majority of reported violent crimes were robberies and assaults, which accounted for 4,604 incidents. People living in or visiting San Diego have a 1 in 277 chance of being the victim of a violent crime.
Property Crime in San Diego
- San Diego property crime rate: 1,883 per 100,000
- San Diego total property crimes: 27,416
- Chance of becoming a victim of property crime in San Diego: 1 in 54
The most common type of crime in San Diego is property crime. This includes things like larceny theft, burglary, arson, and motor vehicle theft. Property crime in San Diego occurs 11% less than the national average. There were 27,141 incidents reported in 2020, over 18,000 of which were thefts. This brings San Diego’s property crime rate to 1,883 per 100,000 people. The most common property crime in San Diego is larceny theft, which there was 18,482 reported incidents of. Chances of being the victim of a property crime in San Diego are 1 in 54, which is lower than California’s average of 1 in 43.
San Diego Gang Activity
Currently, the biggest source of crime in San Diego is gang activity. San Diego is one of the largest exports of illegal drugs that cross the border through Mexico. There are more than 4,000 gang members and 91 gangs present in San Diego. The San Diego border sees 70% of the United State’s meth import from Mexico, which outpaces both Texas and Arizona borders. Drug trafficking in San Diego is extremely high, and San Diego is often called the meth capital. Most of this is thought to be brought over by the Sinaloa Cartel.
Unsafe San Diego Neighborhoods
Though San Diego is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the United States, there are still areas that are best avoided, including:
- Population: 10,178
- Crime rate: 900% higher than the San Diego average
The East Village neighborhood in San Diego is considered the most dangerous in the city. East Village was in major decline by the late 1990s, and the area had high rates of homelessness, prostitution, and drug addiction. Today, chances of being the victim of a crime in East Village are 1 in 8. Violent crime is 853% higher than the national average, and property crime is 377% higher.
- Population: 4,435
- Crime rate: 559% higher than the San Diego average
Violent crime in Maria is 525% higher than the national average. Though efforts are being made to build up the area with high-rise apartments and hotels, there is still a 1 in 9 chance of being the victim of a crime within Marina.
- Population: 3,176
- Crime rate: 306% higher than the San Diego average
Though it’s a lively community with a tight-knit vibe, violent crime in Little Italy is 287% higher than the national average. Property crime rates aren’t far behind, at 263% higher than the US average.
Safest Neighborhoods in San Diego
There are tons of wonderful, safe areas in San Diego! Here are a few of the most safe areas to look into if you’re house hunting. For more information on these San Diego neighborhoods, and more amazing options, click here to check out our comprehensive guide!
- Population: 39,559
- Crime rate: 78% lower than the San Diego average
Carmel Valley is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in San Diego. Median sale price for a home in Carmel Valley is $1,264,500. Overall crime rates here are 63% lower than the national average.
- Population: 44,185
- Crime rate: 62% lower than the San Diego average
Rancho Bernardo is an affluent neighborhood, with residents earning a median household income of $91,100. Median sale price for a home in San Bernardo is $677,000, which has increased by over 40% in the last year. Residents report feeling very safe in Rancho Bernardo, where chances of being a victim of a violent crime are 1 in 1334.
San Diego Police Department
The history of the San Diego Police Department begins with the formation of the San Diego City Marshal in 1850. Richard Freeman, California’s first African American lawman, was appointed as the first marshall. Though the City Marshal disbanded in 1852, it was reformed in 1885, and the police department was officially established under a new charter in 1889. Today, the San Diego Police Department comprises 623 civilians and 1,764 sworn police officers, or 1.2 per 1000 residents.
San Diego’s current police chief is David Nislet, who was promoted to the position on March 2, 2018. To access San Diego’s crime maps and data, click here.
San Diego Police Department Headquarters
1401 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 531-2000
Staying Safe in San Diego – How to Avoid Crime in San Diego
- Avoid the Imperial Avenue between MTS Center Way and 16th St, where a high volume of assaults have occurred recently
- Use secure parking lots in Downtown San Diego and the surrounding neighborhoods, where there is a high volume of car theft and break-ins
- Stay up to date with crime news and maps provided by the city, also avoiding high crime areas at night
San Diego Crime Rates FAQ
Is the crime rate improving in San Diego?
Crime in San Diego has been on a steady decline since 1989, and is currently decreasing by about 2% a year.
What are the worst areas of San Diego?
The most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego are East Village, Horton Plaza, Marina, Little Italy, and Kearny Mesa.
Is San Diego safer than Los Angeles?
San Diego’s total crime rate is 10% lower than the national average, whereas Los Angeles’s rate is 25% higher than the US average.
Are you looking into crime in San Diego because you’re planning to move here? Let our trustworthy, expert movers help you relocate! Call Republic Moving at 619-304-6596 to get your free quote!