Are you visiting or moving to Washington, DC? The DC crime rate is probably a big concern. While the District was long known for its very high crime, it has made great strides. Some areas of DC still have high crime, but this is a common problem in most major cities. Here’s what you should know about Washington, DC crime, how to avoid it, and a look at the safest places to live in DC.
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Understanding the Washington, DC Crime Rate
The first place to start to understand crime in Washington, DC is the city’s crime rate. Crime rates below are based on FBI Uniform Crime Statistics (2019) and reported as a per capita amount of crime. This means the amount of crimes per 100,000 people. Only eight index crimes are used to calculate crime rates in the U.S. which are chosen because they are serious and well-tracked nationwide.
What is the Washington, DC crime rate?
- 5,223 total crimes per 100,000 people
- 977 violent crimes per 100,000 people
- 4,246 property crimes per 100,000 people
There is a 1 in 19 chance of being the victim of crime while living in DC.
To put that into context, the national crime rate is 2,580 crimes per 100,000 people with 2,362 property crimes and 382 violent crimes per capita.
Washington, DC Crime Map
A DC crime map is another useful tool for better understanding your risk of crime depending on the neighborhood. You can use a crime map to find safe neighborhoods and areas with the most violent crime.
The DC Metropolitan Police Department has a Crime Cards tool that lets you filter crime by type and location. You can also use this map of DC wards to narrow down your options once you’ve found areas with low crime.
Property Crime in Washington, DC
There were 29,965 property crimes reported in DC in 2019. This included the following index crimes:
- 25,827 larceny/thefts
- 2,298 car thefts
- 1,840 burglaries
You have a 1 in 24 chance of being the victim of property crime.
Violent Crime in Washington, DC
In 2019, a total of 6,896 violent crimes were reported in DC. This included these index crimes:
- 2,359 robberies
- 4,029 aggravated assaults
- 342 rapes
- 166 murders
You have a 1 in 102 chance of being the victim of violent crime in DC. The Washington, DC murder rate is 24 homicides per capita. By comparison, the national murder rate is 5 murders per capita.
Washington, DC was once the murder capital of the U.S. with a DC homicide rate that peaked at 80.6 murders per capita in 1991 with 482 murders that year. However, revitalization, neighborhood improvements, and new investments have dramatically reduced crime in the District since then.
Like most American cities, the District experienced a spike in violent crime in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, homicides have been on the rise for several years. In 2020, there were 198 homicides in DC and over 920 people shot. That makes it the deadliest year since 2004 with a 64% increase in shootings over three years.
Dangerous Areas of Washington, DC
As with many large cities, there are a handful of high crime areas of Washington, DC that account for a disproportionate share of violent crime. There are eight neighborhoods that have more violent crime than the DC average.
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The following are the most dangerous Washington, DC neighborhoods based on their violent crime rate compared to the city average.
- Deanwood (pop. 30,000) with 186% more crime
- Brentwood (pop. 29,000) with 84% more crime
- Anacostia (pop. 118,000) with 81% more crime
- U Street Corridor (pop. 10,000) with 54% more crime
- Stadium-Armory (pop. 21,000) with 50% more crime
- Shaw (pop. 14,000) with 50% more crime
- South West (pop. 11,000) with 18% more crime
- Ledroit Park (pop. 12,000) with 16% more crime
Ward 8 in Southeast DC is generally regarded as the most dangerous area of DC and the area with the highest poverty rate. In one recent year, this Ward alone accounted for 80% of the annual increase in murders in neighborhoods like Shaw, Anacostia, and Shipley Terrace. In a single month in 2021, police were investigating 24 assaults with a deadly weapon and 9 homicides in Ward 8.
Deanwood, with the highest rate of violent crime, is in Ward 7 and second on the list, Brentwood, is in Ward 5.
Safest Neighborhoods in Washington, DC
Ready to explore safe places to live in DC? Don’t be turned off by crime in Washington, DC. While higher than the national average, there are more good neighborhoods than bad. Here are some of the safest Washington, DC neighborhoods with violent crime that’s 50% to 75% lower than the city average.
- Glover Park is the safest place to live in Washington, DC. It’s very residential with plenty of parks and a very young population with plenty of kids and recent Georgetown graduates.
- Tenleytown is a family-friendly neighborhood with plenty of amenities, great schools, and low crime. It tends to be a bit more affordable than other Northwest neighborhoods. It’s home to American University law school.
- Barnaby Woods is a secluded neighborhood surrounded by parks like Rock Creek Park which makes it a big draw for outdoor enthusiasts and people who want a break from the hustle and bustle.
- The Palisades is located between the Potamac and Georgetown. Families love its low crime, amenities like the Palisades Recreation Center, and quiet streets that make it feel more like the suburbs.
- Cleveland Park is close to Rock Creek Park and popular with outdoor enthusiasts, seniors, and families. You’ll be close to downtown but enjoy a sense of community.
- Foxhall Village is west of Georgetown and known for its Tudor homes. It’s popular with young professionals and young families with excellent schools.
- Chevy Chase offers safe urban living with the feel of the suburbs with large homes, great amenities, and community events.
- Mount Pleasant is one of DC’s safest and most diverse neighborhoods with easy access to downtown and a pedestrian-friendly commercial area with small boutiques. It’s been called a “national model for resisting gentrification.”
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You’ll find safe places to live in DC for families, singles, and retirees throughout the city. However, many of the neighborhoods with the lowest crime are in the Northwest quadrant like Glover Park, Foxhall Village, and Cleveland Park.
Washington, DC Safety Tips – How to Avoid Crime in DC
- When jogging or cycling in DC, the MPD recommends staying vigilant, ignoring any verbal harassment, and staying an arm’s length away from any cars that approach for directions. Trust your instincts about an area.
- When walking at night, stay in well-lit areas, walk with confidence, and walk close to the curb. Walk with a group or a friend whenever possible.
- Reduce the risk of car theft and theft from your vehicle by making sure your car is always locked with no valuables in sight. Use secure parking whenever possible.
- To avoid pickpockets, do not keep your wallet in your back pocket or a purse. Carry a purse that’s difficult to open and carry it diagonally across your body.
Metropolitan Police Department
- Police chief: Robert J. Contee III
- Officers: 3,800 sworn officers (600 civilian staff)
- Non-emergency phone number: (202) 727-4106
- Address: Henry J. Daly Building, 300 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Law enforcement in the District involves a network of city and federal agencies, but the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has primary jurisdiction. Virtually all federal law enforcement agencies also have jurisdiction within DC.
The DC Police is America’s 6th largest municipal police department serving an area of 68 square miles. The agency has a number of specialized units like the gun recovery unit, harbor patrol, and criminal intelligence. Its Command Information Center monitors license plate readers, city surveillance cameras, Shotspotter and other surveillance devices.
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Washington, DC Crime Rate FAQ
Is Washington, DC dangerous?
DC has a reputation for high crime, but it’s largely concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods. Most neighborhoods in Washington, DC are safe, especially the Northwest quadrant.
What is the crime rate in Washington, DC?
The DC crime rate is 5,223 crimes per 100,000 people. There are 4,246 property crimes and 977 violent crimes per capita. This is far above the national average of 2,580 total crimes and 382 violent crimes per capita.
What are the bad areas of Washington, DC?
The Southeast area of DC, or Ward 8, has most of the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates. Outside of Ward 8, Brentwood and Deanwood have the highest violent crime rate in DC.
Don’t be intimidated by the high Washington, DC crime rate. You’ll find it easy to avoid violent crime in DC which is concentrated in just a handful of areas. Most neighborhoods in Washington, DC are safe, particularly in the Northwest, with family-friendly amenities and top-rated parks.
Ready to relocate to the DC area? Once you’ve settled on a safe community to call home, give our DC movers at Suburban Solutions a call for a free moving quote to get started!