Visiting Philly or planning on moving to Philadelphia? The City of Brotherly Love has a reputation for crime, but you don’t need to think of it as a dangerous place to live or visit! One area of Philly in particular is very dangerous with a violent crime rate 7x the national average, but most neighborhoods in this city of 1.6 million are safe.
Here’s a complete guide to the crime rate in Philadelphia including dangerous areas to avoid, the “Philadelphia Badlands,” and safe neighborhoods in Philly where crime is far below average.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Philadelphia Crime Rate
As you explore the Philadelphia crime rate and crime rates in its many neighborhoods, it’s important to understand what crime rates actually mean. City crime rates are based on FBI Uniform Crime Statistics (2019) data and they are reported as a per capita rate, or the number of crimes per 100,000 people. Only index crimes are used to calculate crime rates. These eight violent and property crimes are chosen because they are considered serious and best reflect your risk of being the victim of crime. Offenses like disorderly conduct, drunk driving, and drug offenses are not included in crime rates.
What is the Philadelphia crime rate?
- 4,006 total crimes per 100,000 people
- 909 violent crimes per 100,000 people
- 3,097 property crimes per 100,000 people
By comparison, the national crime rate is 2,580 total crimes per 100,000 with 382 violent crimes and 2,362 crimes per capita.
Philadelphia Crime Map
A good way to understand Philadelphia crime is by using a crime map. This can help you narrow down your options for safe places to live and understand the unique crime risks you face in different areas of the city.
The Philadelphia Police Department has one of the best Philadelphia crime maps. You can view serious crime by neighborhood through the Crime Mapper. They also offer in-depth Philadelphia crime statistics.
This PHL Crime Map uses data from the PDD and it can be a bit more user-friendly.
This interactive crime map of shootings in Philadelphia shows fatal and nonfatal shootings in the city.
Property Crime in Philadelphia
There were 46,145 property crimes in Philadelphia in 2019 including:
- 36,968 thefts
- 6,497 burglaries
- 5,680 car thefts
During the first three months of 2020, property crime was up 16% in Philadelphia with retail theft up 59%. By the end of 2020, car thefts were up 39% in the city.
Violent Crime in Philadelphia
There were 14,420 violent crimes in Philadelphia in 2019 including:
- 7,712 aggravated assaults
- 5,262 robberies
- 1,095 rapes
- 351 murders
In 2020, Philadelphia had 499 homicides, the highest number of murders in 30 years and only the second time in Philly’s history homicides have approached 500.
The 2020 Philadelphia murder rate was 31.8 murders per capita. That’s up from 22.7 homicides per capita in 2019. By comparison, the U.S. homicide rate is 5 murders per 100,000 people.
There were over 2,200 people shot in Philadelphia in 2020. That’s 40% more than ever recorded. The 24th and 8th Police Districts experienced an increase of more than 100% in shootings year-over-year.
Despite soaring homicides and shootings, violent crime in Philadelphia has overall remained near a decades-long low.
Philadelphia Crime Comparison | Crime in Philadelphia vs Chicago & Other Major Cities
Which is more dangerous: Philadelphia or Chicago? Both cities trade places as the most dangerous city in America. Philadelphia now has a higher murder rate than Chicago thanks to a comprehensive plan to target gun violence over the last four years in the Windy City. Still, Philly has slightly less crime than Chicago aside from its homicide rate.
Here’s how total crime in Philadelphia compares to major cities.
- 29% more crime in Houston compared to Philly
- 26% more crime in Washington, DC vs Philadelphia
- 15% more crime in Charlotte, NC over Philly
- 2% more crime Chicago vs Philadelphia
- Phoenix and Philly have the same amount of crime, but Philly’s homicide rate is much higher
- 19% less crime in Las Vegas compared to Philadelphia
- 25% less crime in Los Angeles
- 65% less crime in New York City
High Crime Areas of Philadelphia
As intimidating as the high Philadelphia crime rate may be, remember that most crime happens in just a handful of areas. As a general rule, most violent crime is concentrated in the Southwest, West, and North of Philadelphia. Of Philly’s six divisions, the Southwest division has the highest murder rate.
According to police, more than 80% of shootings in the city in hotspots for crime are committed by 2% of known offenders.
The Philadelphia Badlands
Before exploring dangerous areas of Philly, it helps to understand what is referred to as the “Philadelphia Badlands,” an area of Lower Northeast and North Philadelphia known for its high rate of drug-related violence, drug markets, and organized crime.
The Badlands usually refers to the area with the following borders: York Street (south), Hunting Park Avenue (north), Broad Street (west), and Kensington Avenue (east). It includes the neighborhoods of Harrowgate, Hunting Park, Glenwood, Fairhill, Stanton, West Kensington, North Central, Kensington, and Hartranft.
Crime in the Badlands usually comes from street gangs. However, crime also comes from large criminal organizations. Gangs operating in the Badlands include the K&A Gang or Northeast Philly Irish Mob, the Black Mafia, and the Latin Kings.
The following are the most dangerous areas of Philadelphia where most violent crime occurs. These dangerous Philly neighborhoods have a crime rate that is 65% to more than 200% above the city average! Not all of them are located in the Badlands.
- Nicetown-Tioga (pop. 17,000) in North Philadelphia has 2,737 violent crimes per capita. That’s more than 3x Philadelphia’s violent crime rate and more than 7x the national average!
- Alleghany West (pop. 19,000) in North Philadelphia borders Nicetown-Tioga. Its zip code, 19132, has the lowest median home price in Philadelphia.
- North Central (pop. 22,000) in North Philadelphia includes the neighborhoods of Stanton and Hartranft. The area has a very high poverty rate and it’s part of the “Philadelphia Badlands.”
- Harrowgate (pop. 17,500) is located between Port Richmond and Kensington but it’s rarely referred to by its name. It’s often referred to as one of its neighbors, lumped in with Kensington in North Philadelphia when referencing crime. Locals sometimes call it Upper Kensington or K&A.
- Haddington–Carroll Park (pop. 35,000) refers to two separate neighborhoods in West Philadelphia. Over the past two decades, the community has experienced the worst household income decline in the city. Between 2000 and 2014, average household income in Haddington declined 55% and the average home price dropped from $29,000 to $13,000.
- Fairhill (pop. 27,000) is located on the east side of North Philadelphia and it’s known for the “El Centro de Oro” commercial area. The zip code 19133 which covers Fairhill and parts of Hartranft and Glenwood is the poorest zip code in the city. The poverty rate is 61% and homes often sell for under $30,000 after a long time on the market. Fairhill is in the center of the “Philadelphia Badlands” with several of the city’s top drug corners.
- Brewerytown (pop. 11,000) is located in North Philadelphia near Boathouse Row and the Eastern State Penitentiary museum in neighboring Fairmount. Named for the many breweries once found here along the river, Brewerytown was once a crime- and drug-ridden neighborhood. However, it has been targeted by real estate investors for years and the city is working on revitalizing the neighborhood.
- Germantown (pop. 67,000) in Northwest Philadelphia is mostly in the 19144 zip code with some parts in the 19138 zip code. This large community has very safe areas and areas with high crime.
- Hunting Park (pop. 23,000) is adjacent to Nicetown-Tioga in North Philadelphia. The zip code 19140 covers both Hunting Park and Nicetown-Tioga with an average home price between $50,000 and $85,000 over the past several years.
With some of these neighborhoods, where you live matters a lot. The best example is Germantown, a huge historic neighborhood once an independent borough. Germantown is sandwiched between Nicetown-Tioga, the most dangerous area of Philadelphia, and Chestnut Hill, an extremely affluent and safe community. Northwest Germantown is very safe as well as the area near East Falls. You’ll find beautiful, historic mansions, excellent parks, and the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. East Germantown has more crime.
When you see crime rates for Germantown, Philadelphia, they usually include both “Germantown” and “East Germantown,” now considered a separate neighborhood.
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Safest Neighborhoods in Philadelphia
Don’t be turned away by the high crime rate in Philadelphia, PA. There are tons of safe places to live in Philadelphia with crime that isn’t just low for the city but far lower than the national average.
Here are some of the safest neighborhoods in Philadelphia for families, singles, and young professionals.
- Bustleton. Popular with retirees and young families, Bustleton has a crime rate 68% below the Philadelphia average and 51% lower than the national average. This Northeast Philly neighborhood is very residential and known for its green space with Pennypack Park and the Bustleton Bengals Club.
- Somerton is safer than 80% of neighborhoods in the entire state. Located in the Far Northeast of Philly, Somerton has the fastest-growing foreign-born population in the city with several subdivisions to choose from.
- Chestnut Hill. This affluent, safe Philadelphia neighborhood is known for its mansions, Victorian townhomes, and tree-lined streets. While living in Chestnut Hill, you’ll enjoy tons of events, festivals, and summer concerts. You’ll find it in Northwest Philly.
- Rhawnhurst. This residential community is one of the safest places to live in Philly. It’s just 13 miles from Center City in the Northeast adjacent to Pennypack Park and it’s known for its many Philadelphia-style twin houses.
These are only a handful of the many safe neighborhoods in Philly!
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Philadelphia Safety Tips – How to Avoid Crime in Philly
- Do not leave your keys in your car. Car theft is a common problem in many areas of Philly. About one-third of stolen cars have the keys inside and are crimes of opportunity. Thieves may target people warming up their car during the winter or double parking.
- Vehicle tag theft is on the rise. You can install an anti-license plate theft kit for about $15.
- Avoid high crime areas of Philadelphia particularly the “Badlands.’ The areas of Philly known for crime include North Philadelphia, Kensington, and the South End.
- Crime has spiked in the University City District, both on and off campus. This includes car jackings and armed robberies. Police recommend parking in well lit areas, not walking with a phone out or headphones in, and walking in groups. You can call (215) 387-3942 for a Public Safety Ambassador to escort you for free between 10 am and 3 am.
Philadelphia Police Department
- Police commissioner: Danielle M. Outlaw
- Officers: 6,400 sworn officers (800 civilian staff)
- Non-emergency phone number: (215) 686-1776
- Address: Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters, 750 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) is the 4th largest police department in the United States and one of the oldest. The PPD patrols an area of 370 square miles and a population of more than 1.5 million. It’s had a history of intimidation and brutality with a 2021 report finding that only 0.5% of civilian complaints against officers resulted in anything beyond a reprimand.
The Philadelphia Police Department is divided into 21 patrol districts with special units like SWAT and the K-9 squad. The Detective Bureau has several Divisional Detective Units including Organized Crime, Homicide, and Special Victims Unit.
Philadelphia Crime Rate FAQ
Is Philadelphia safer than Chicago?
Chicago and Philadelphia are the two most dangerous large cities in the U.S. The murder rate is now higher in Philadelphia than Chicago after the Windy City began targeting gun violence.
Is Philadelphia dangerous?
Philadelphia has a violent crime rate 140% above the national average. Some areas of Philadelphia, particularly North Philadelphia, are dangerous but most areas of Philadelphia are safe.
What is the crime rate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?
The Philadelphia crime rate is 4,006 total crimes, 909 violent crimes, and 3,097 property crimes per capita. The national crime rate is 2,580 total crimes, 382 violent crimes, and 2,362 property crimes per capita.
Philadelphia crime may be high, but the majority of violent crime occurs in the Badlands and a handful of neighborhoods. With over 150 great Philadelphia neighborhoods plus safe Main Line communities to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding safe places to live with crime rates lower than the national average.
Once you’ve settled on a safe neighborhood in Philly to call home, give our friendly movers at Suburban Solutions a call for a free moving quote. We’ll help you get settled in so you can start enjoying everything Philadelphia has to offer.