Is San Diego safe? 10 Worst Neighborhoods in San Diego


San Diego is a gem of the West Coast, home to the most beautiful & calm beaches and the most avocados in the US. It also has the ideal climate, bringing fantastic conditions for kayaking, jet skiing, and multiple other ocean fun activities.

San Diego may not be the most integral city in the world, but there is no doubt that it is one of the safest large cities in the US. However, considering no town is crime-free, here is a list of the neighborhoods that make this city less safe.

Current Crime Situation in San Diego

From 2021 to 2022, overall total crime fell by about 3% in San Diego, but the violent crime rate hit a 10-year high as it increased by about 2% in 2022.

When compared with 2021, the number of homicides and rapes decreased. There were 107 homicides in 2022 against 118 in 2021, where around 60% of most homicides were committed with a firearm. Rapes decreased by about 12%, from 1,076 in 2021 to 942 in 2022. Domestic violence also reduced by about 4%.

In 2022, a dip in robbery powered an overall property crime dip of about 5%, but the value of the stolen property went up still. Only burglary and motor vehicle thefts saw slight increases of 3% and 2%, respectively.

Top 10 Dangerous Places in San Diego

1. San Ysidro


San Ysidro's neighborhood is located just north of the US-Mexico border. It has a population of around 27,974 and a total crime rate of 49%, which is greater than the US average. This neighborhood has heightened incidences of almost all types of crime reports - theft, burglary, robbery, vandalism, assault, and arrest. Drug trafficking is also a problem, with the area having some minor gang activity.

Residents offer that the police make foot patrols now and again. However, the 2022 FBI statistics reveal a total crime rate of 3,464 for every 100,000 residents. Assault, robbery, rape, and murder were the focus crimes for violent crimes, with the frequency occurring in that order. Note that the violent crimes in San Ysidro are 79% greater than the national average. For property crimes, the concerns are theft and burglary, and in San Ysidro, they are 43% more significant than the national average.

Sadly, the police response to crimes in this neighborhood is slow. For this reason, exploring the area is tagged unsafe, especially during the night. This is the reason the locals advice independent female tourists against making solo trips. During the day, bus transportations are safer, but cash handling isn't. Any resident in San Ysidro has a 1 in 29 chance of becoming a crime victim. Although few hotels are guided as safe, they are barely within this neighborhood.


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2. Cortez Hill


Even with a small population of 2,891, this neighborhood sees as much crime as the rest. Cortez Hill is located near downtown and Little Italy and has a crime rate that is 213% above the national average. It has a lousy history of gun violence, drug activity, and crimes such as robbery, burglary, and auto theft, as this neighborhood struggles with poverty and homelessness.

There were 30,976 reported incidents recorded during 2022, including 5,932 for violent crimes and 25,044 for property crimes, with a high percentage of the incidents of theft and assault – the individual problematic crimes of property and violent crimes. However, the police presence in this neighborhood is guaranteed.

Exploring or strolling at nights on foot or moving alone as a female tourist may hardly be supported, except with company. In bus transportations, crimes have been far apart, even the news about hotels being unsafe around this neighborhood. In Cortez Hill, you have a 1 in 14 chance of becoming a crime victim.

3. Midtown District


Midtown brags a robust economy, and it is nestled right in the middle of San Diego, north of downtown, adjacent to the airport. It has a population of 10,962, with crime rates 386% greater than the San Diego average.

Even with the clear police presence in this neighborhood, the insecurity about this neighborhood still remains because of the endless theft incidences. In Midtown District, property crime is much more common than violent crime. From the FBI 2022 analysis, out of a total offense of 10,915 for every 100,000 residents, 86.3% of the crimes are allocated to property crime alone, with 60% for theft.

Commutes are relatively safe in this neighborhood, so a handful of cash will stay untouched. Day and night walking and biking activities can be taken without incidences, which is good to note for solo traveling women tourists. However, it is best to be extra guarded and alert when moving if you're a family with kids. Pickpocketing or panhandling can happen, so moving around with bulk cash may be unsafe. Caution should be taken.

4. Kearny Mesa


Kearny Mesa is about 15 minutes north of downtown and has a population of 5,042. Named after a California military governor, Kearny Mesa may be a fantastic place to catch a good meal, but it's not the best place to explore. Most of the crime in this neighborhood relates to property crime or petty theft. There are frequent issues of vehicle theft, stolen property, home theft, etc. Even violent crimes like robbery and assault happen also.

According to FBI data, in 2022, Kearny Mesa suffered a total crime rate of 13,785 for every 100,000 residents, whereas the city's average was 2,248 with crime rates 493% greater than the US average. The reported violent and property crime incidents were 1,670 and 12,115, and statistics show that violent crimes are 352% greater than the US average.

Although the police in this neighborhood are often seen now and again, they seem to contribute little to the growing property crime rate experienced. Bus transits and other public means of transport are thus not safe. Tourists periodically must check for their wallets or purses as there are likelihoods of being mugged. However, this area is safe for walking, even past midnight, for women traveling solo.

The Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn are a few of the nearby hotels that conduct safe and reliable services. In Kearny Mesa, your chance of being a crime victim is 1 in 8.


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5. Memorial


Populated by 14,637 people and raided by criminal activities, Memorial is the least safe neighborhood in San Diego. It is situated southeast of downtown San Diego, just a few blocks from the bay, and is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. The common crimes are mostly vandalism and assault, even disregarding the police availability in this neighborhood. Arrests are known to happen frequently though.

According to FBI statistics, in 2022, there was a total crime rate of 4,567 for every 100,000 residents. 73.6% was the contribution from property crime, where the topmost crime incidences came from theft, and vehicle theft and burglary following closely behind. For violent crime, assault had the most recognition, bearing 70% of the reported violent incidences.

Bus transits are relatively safe, and you can move wads of cash about. Trust, the areas to avoid in San Diego are mostly Memorial streets or simply lock your doors if driving, and watch out for red lights. Visitors and females wishing to explore could safely walk or bike across the neighborhood, but at nighttime, the females should be discouraged from walking. You have a 1 in 22 chance of becoming a crime victim here.

6. East Village


East Village is just off downtown and houses San Diego City College and Petco Park. With a population of 10.954 people, this community is plagued with crimes that stem from drug trafficking, like assault and prostitution. Even though property crime seems to be the focus crime, the noticeable crime is heavy drug usage. Drug-addled homeless and heroin addicts fill up this neighborhood.

Oddly enough, there are a lot of San Diego police that patrol this neighborhood on a regular, but data from the 2022 FBI report shows the crime rates are 476% greater than the national average. The data revealed a total crime rate of 13,397 for every 100,000 residents for the entire year. The violent crime rate was 4,114 incidents for every 100,000 residents, and the property crime rate was 9,283 for every 100,000 residents.

Common sense and general safety should be exercised when walking alone, especially at night, because this neighborhood is unsafe. Locals advise tourist females, and visitors are encouraged to travel lighter regarding cash handling to avoid being mugged. This makes a 1 in 8 chance of becoming a crime victim in that neighborhood.

7. Old Town


This neighborhood, which was once tagged as the "Birthplace of California" being the home of California's first city, is now associated with street crime and regular burglary. With 1,127 people occupying this neighborhood, unfortunately, in 2022, the property violent crime rate and crime rate were enlisted as being 104% and 128% greater than the national average.

Is Old Town San Diego safe? Old Town's total crime rate was 4,829 incidences per 100,000 people, which makes it one of the worst neighborhoods in San Diego. According to 2022 FBI data, it had 3,986 property crimes and 843 violent crimes per 100,000 people, and the overall crime rates are 108% greater than the national average.

With the police presence in this area not so upfront, exploring by walking or biking may be unsafe, so the best safety act will be to only move around daytime. Particularly if traveling solo as a woman.


There are murmurs of robberies and pickpockets, so public transportation should be avoided if possible. Better to switch to credit/ debit cards rather than carrying cash in purses and wallets. Hotels like Bahia Resort, Old Town Inn, and Hyatt Regency have maintained safe reputations. In Old Town, you have a 1 in 21 chance of becoming a crime victim.

8. Mount Hope


This neighborhood has a rough reputation for being unsafe, and 2022 had a couple of bad records. There was always news of shootings or some form of violent crime. There was so much violence that you could get hit just sitting on a motorcycle. Population-wise, Mount Hope has an estimated 22,000 living in it.

In 2022, according to FBI statistics, there were a total of reported 30,976 incidences, of which 5,932 were violent crimes and 25,044 property crimes. For violent crimes, murder, rape, robbery, and assault were 53, 410, 1,288, and 4,181. Cumulatively, they are 48% greater than the national average. For property crimes, burglary, theft, and vehicle theft, there were 3,290, 15,106, and 6,648. They are 6% greater than the national average.

The police are usually on the get-go in this area, and it is tough to see crime pass by without action plans. Public transiting has barely disclosed any crimes, and regular petty cash robbery crimes happen less and less. A common advice is to plan visits for day times and keep expensive designer clothes, or valuables away. Lady tourists are likely to fare better when in company, otherwise, stay alert when solo. Mount Hope residents have a 1 in 42 chance of becoming a crime victim.


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9. Palm City


Palm City is a neighborhood populated by 6,059 people. This community is a rough one, and it keeps having incessant outbreaks of violence and shootings, although the police pledges to be of as much help as is needed.

In 2022, reported cases of violent crime incidents rose to 3,384 for every 100,000 residents, with assault still the most. With property crime, theft crimes are the top. With crime rates 46% greater than the US average, in Palm City, the chance of being a crime victim is 1 in 30.

Male and female travelers are expected to exercise caution and be aware of the surroundings, as your cash is never safe. It is safe during the day if you are in the main areas. So, if you venture more than a couple of blocks in the wrong direction during the night, you might find yourself in an unsafe situation.

10. Mission Valley 


This neighborhood seems to be central to everything regarding shopping or transportation. Having one of the highest total crimes per 100,000 residents, 10,423, this neighborhood of 7,490 has property safety issues resulting in crime. Though violent crimes are 223% greater than the national average, Mission Valley is safer than 9% of the other cities. The police seem less active here.

Is Mission Valley San Diego safe? For public transit, it is generally perceived as safe. So, moving about with cash is not a risk factor. With its plenty places  to walk, you can explore Mission Valley on foot, bike, and at night. Females traveling independently, especially at night, are undisturbed in this neighborhood for fear of entering a hostile operating hood.

Biking, strolling, and using public transport at the time is safe, with minimal fear of being robbed of cash. The chance of being a crime victim in Mission Valley is 1 in 10.

The Safest Places in San Diego

Is San Diego safe? When selecting a place to visit or call home, safety invariably is a key consideration for people and potential tourists. San Diego has more well-organized police forces and very little gang activity compared to other California cities. Some safe communities are Del Mar, Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Valley, Poway, Scripps Ranch, La Jolla, Encinitas, Coronado, North Park, Nestor, Egger Highlands, Miramar, and Alta Vista.


The importance of safety cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts the residents' overall quality of life, well-being, and peace of mind. Take the time to speak with the locals and conduct thorough research to find the perfect fit for your lifestyle. San Diego is a diverse city that offers various neighborhoods to suit multiple preferences and lifestyles, and you will definitely enjoy your visit if you move with caution.