San Francisco is relatively safe to visit if you plan accordingly and keep your stay exclusive to certain neighborhoods. San Francisco's main tourist areas, Union Square, Chinatown, and Fisherman's Warf, are all very safe during the day. However, you should always be careful as there is a lot of crime in the city, and pickpocketing is common.
Living in San Francisco is a different story. San Francisco’s crime rate is 111% higher than the national average and 91% higher than the California average. Residents often complain of rampant homelessness, and property crime greatly affects many areas of San Francisco.
The chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime in San Francisco is 1 in 178. In 2021, there were 49 murders, 2,490 robberies, and 2,181 assaults. Even though violent crime is still 40% above the national average, San Francisco is less violent than some other large cities. Since much of the crime revolves around drug addiction and subsequent property crime, violent crime isn’t as prevalent. While the city is more dangerous than many cities, San Francisco falls behind others, including Charlotte, Dallas, and Denver, when it comes to violent crime rates.
And, of course, your chance of being a victim of either a violent crime or a property crime in San Francisco depends heavily on the neighborhood.
Property crime in San Francisco is one of the biggest issues facing residents. Overall, residents have a 1 in 22 chance of being the victims of property crime. In 2022, there were over 7,000 burglaries, 6,050 motor vehicle thefts, and 26,000 thefts. Taking common-sense measures like knowing your surroundings and not leaving belongings in plain sight in vehicles can help mitigate the chances of becoming a victim. However, car thieves will often break into cars in an attempt to find something to steal.
Much of the property crime is directly related to the surging homeless population in the city. Between 2017 and 2022, the homeless population has grown rapidly, now numbering over 35,000 and steadily growing. Many issues facing the homeless include drug trade and addiction, fueling property crime. Residents often complain of major homeless encampments in the city, which results in highly unsanitary conditions, including human waste and needles being left in pedestrian areas.
- Tenderloin District
- Hunters Point
- Mission District
- Outer Mission
- Western Addition
- South of Market SOMA
1. Tenderloin District
The Tenderloin District is the most dangerous neighborhood in San Francisco. Located in Downtown San Francisco, the area has a population of 39,000 and an extremely high violent crime rate, which is over 270% higher than the national average. The Tenderloin has more violent crimes, such as robberies and assaults. In addition, some of the highest amounts of drug use and homelessness are concentrated in this neighborhood. Despite being one of San Francisco’s historic neighborhoods, you should be careful when walking through the area.
2. Hunters Point
Another one of the worst areas in San Francisco is Hunters Point. Located near the Port of San Francisco, Hunters Point has a population of 3,534 and an exceptionally high crime rate. Hunters Point has been plagued by poverty for decades, with communities being affected by incidents involving toxic leaks and hazardous waste spills. In 2022, there were over 4,000 assaults and over 1,000 incidents of burglary.
3. Mission District
Mission district has a population of 45,039 and a crime rate that is 251% higher than the national average. Violent crimes were frequent, but most of the crime can be attributed to property crime, with over 6,000 incidents in 2022. During the COVID pandemic, crime rates surged in this neighborhood but have gone down since. Mission District remains a popular tourist destination and is safe as long as common sense is used.
4. Outer Mission
Outer Mission is another dangerous San Francisco neighborhood. The area has a population of 8,546 and a crime rate that is 98% higher than the national average. The property crime rate is much higher than the violent crime rate in Outer Mission. Property crimes like car theft are rampant in this neighborhood, and it is not advised to leave any visible property in your car. Since Out Mission is greatly affected by homelessness, drug activity and other petty crimes are very common.
5. Western Addition
With a population of 12,934, Western Addition is known for having rampant property crime and muggings. While some parts of Western Addition have undergone gentrification, homelessness affects the area and contributes to the overall crime rate. Car break-ins, petty theft, and drug activity. Residents report feeling generally safe, even at night, as long as common sense is used.
6. South of Market (SOMA)
Another dangerous San Francisco neighborhood is South of Market. Often abbreviated to SOMA, South of Market has a population of 11,457 and an overall crime rate 67% higher than the national average. Despite being a significant economic center hosting multiple tech companies, property crime is very high in SOMA. Vehicle thefts, muggings, and property theft are extremely common.
San Francisco might not have the highest violent crime rate, but it’s more dangerous than other American cities, and theft and property crime plague the city. Since the city has one of the highest homeless populations in the world, the city has many issues stemming from this problem, including theft, drug use, and sanitation. Some neighborhoods in San Francisco are safe for tourists and have functioning business districts. However, given the widespread homeless issue, it affects all areas of the city. The chance of becoming the victim of a crime in this city is statistically very high.