San Francisco is a major commercial, cultural, and financial metropolis in Northern California. Its proximity to Silicon Valley has brought major tech companies to the area, a huge factor in San Francisco having the highest salaries in the world. Even better, San Francisco’s weather can’t be beat. On paper, it’s a fantastic place to live! But is San Francisco safe? It’s surely on your mind if you’re planning a move to the San Francisco area.
Crime has been steadily decreasing in San Francisco over the last few years. However, there’s so much more to look at when considering safety in a huge metropolis. Cities like San Francisco are divided into many neighborhoods, and crime rates can be extremely different within each area. This guide will help you determine what areas are safer or more dangerous, so you can rest assured you’ve chosen the best neighborhood to live in, and what to expect when living in San Francisco in general.
Understanding the Crime Rate in San Francisco
How are crime rates in San Francisco calculated? Researchers divide the amount of reported crimes by a city’s population, then multiply that figure by 100,000. When researching crime rates, experts look at property crime, violent crime, and total crime rates. Total crime rates include both violent and property crimes. Violent crimes are incidents like murder, rape, assault, abduction, homicide, and more. Property crimes include burglary, theft, arson, and vandalism.
Here’s a look at San Francisco’s overall crime statistics:
- San Francisco total crime: 55,358 total incidents of crime
- San Francisco total crime rate: 6,225 incidents per 100,000 people
- Chance of becoming a victim of a crime in San Francisco: 1 in 16
You should also always look at the city crime map when available. Most city government or police departments provide interactive maps so residents and prospective residents can track criminal activities up close. Click here to take a look at the San Francisco crime map provided by the San Francisco Police Department. This dashboard does not include homicide statistics. Click here to access statistical information that includes homicide, and calculates year over year changes in each category of crime.
Violent Crime in San Francisco
Crime in San Francisco dropped significantly in 2020, most notably from March through June. Experts believe that the shelter-in-place orders played a huge role in cutting down gang and drug-related violence in the city. The larger trend is showing violent crime decreasing steadily overall. The SFPD’s monthly reports show only a few months in 2020 in which violent crime was 3% or 4% higher than in 2019. Most months showed violent crime was 14%-22% lower this year than last year.
Overall violent crime in San Francisco is over 70% higher than the national average, with a rate of 691 per 100,000 people. Chances of being the victim of a violent crime in San Francisco are 1 in 145 whereas in California it’s 1 in 227, so San Francisco is less safe than California’s average. There were 6,144 total violent crimes in San Francisco in 2019. The murder rate in San Francisco is 5.2 per 100,000 people.
Property Crime in San Francisco
Property crime in San Francisco is over 160% higher than the national average, with a rate of 5,534 per 100,000 people. Chances of being a property crime victim in San Francisco is 1 in 18 compared to 1 in 43 for the rest of California. There were a total of 49,214 in San Francisco. The most common types of crimes in San Francisco are theft and burglary.
Dangerous Areas of San Francisco
No matter what San Francisco’s crime rates are, there are areas that are more dangerous than others and should be avoided. The following neighborhoods are ranked the most dangerous in San Francisco:
- Population: 39,932
- Crime rate: 47% higher than the San Francisco average
The Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco is the most dangerous area in the city. Tenderloin alone accounts for 70% of San Francisco’s violent crime, including about 25% of the city’s murders. There are also high rates of prostitution, drug abuse, and gang voilence in Tenderloin.
- Population: 35,739
- Crime rate: 15% higher than the San Francisco average
The Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood was once a bustling business district until the mid 1970s, when the Navy decommissioned the area’s shipyard. Isolated from the rest of the city, criminal activity was unchecked for years. The neighborhood has high rates of drug use and homicides. The city finally brought public transit to Bayview-Hunters Point in 2007, and developers are working on revitalizing the area. However, efforts are slow due to contamination in the area, which has still not been declared safe for development.
- Population: 56,009
- Crime rate: 68% higher than the San Francisco average
The Mission district is just north of Bayview-Hunters Point. On the surface, it seems like it should be safe – real estate prices in Mission are extremely high, with residents including Mark Zuckerberg. Despite the recent influx of affluent residents, there is a high rate of homelessness in the area. Mission District experiences higher rates of prostitution and drug-related crime than other San Francisco neighborhoods.
Safest Neighborhoods in San Francisco
There are plenty of safe places to live in San Francisco! In fact, the majority of neighborhoods in San Francisco have residents who report feeling secure. Below are just a few of the best rated San Francisco neighborhoods with low crime rates. For more information on these and other safe neighborhoods in San Francisco, click here to check out our complete guide!
- Population: 27,720
- Crime rate: 63% lower than the San Francisco average
Inner Sunset spans east to west from 2nd Avenue to 19th Avenue, and north to south from Lincoln Way to Quintara Street. It’s one of San Francisco’s most affluent neighborhoods, with real estate prices averaging $1.5M. It’s a bustling commercial district well-known for its wide variety of international restaurants.
- Population: 50,788
- Crime rate: 75% lower than the San Francisco average
Outer Sunset is bordered by Ocean Beach to the west, Sloat Boulevard to the south, Sunset Boulevard between 36th and 37th avenues to the east, and Lincoln Way to the north. It’s home to attractions like the Golden Gate Park, Lake Merced, and the San Francisco Zoo.
- Population: 36,055
- Crime rate: 61% lower than the San Francisco average
Outer Richmond is a sub-neighborhood located within the larger Richmond neighborhood. It is bounded by Ocean Beach at its western edge, Fulton Street to the south, Clement Street to the north, and 32nd Avenue to the east. Outer Richmond is known for its laid-back vibe, and is popular with beach lovers and surfers.
San Francisco Safety Tips – How to Avoid Crime in San Francisco
- Avoid Mission Street and 16th Street at night, where there are higher crime rates
- Be vigilant in Union Square, where pickpocketing is a problem
- Park in garages whenever possible to avoid break-ins
San Francisco Police Department
The San Francisco Police Department was started back in 1849 during the Gold Rush. It was primarily made up of old bandits, which let many of the criminals run free. However, the police department was reorganized four years later, and it’s known as one of the forces that pioneered modern law enforcement.
San Francisco Police Department statistics
- 2,907 sworn in officers
- 2.6 officers per 100,000 citizens
- The current chief of police in San Francisco is Bill Scott.
You can see the San Francisco crime reports here.
San Francisco Police Department Headquarters
1251 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94158, (415) 553-0123
San Francisco Crime Rates FAQ
What is the crime rate in San Francisco, California?
San Francisco’s total crime rate is 6,175 per 100,000 people, which is 148% higher than the national average and 123% higher than the California average. Chances of being a victim of a crime in San Francisco are 1 in 17.
What are the worst areas of San Francisco?
The most dangerous areas in San Francisco are the Mission District, Bayview-Hunters Point, and Tenderloin neighborhoods.
How safe is San Francisco?
Overall, San Francisco is a safe place to live, but you should stay up to date on the city’s crime trends and avoid dangerous areas whenever possible.
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