Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and one of the fastest-growing large cities in the country. At about 100 miles from the Canadian border, Seattle is also farther north than any other major city in the U.S. The port of Seattle is the fourth-largest port in North America. The city is also home to the iconic Space Needle and major companies like Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon.
If you’re wondering whether or not Seattle is a safe place to live, the answer is yes. Seattle does have a high crime rate, but that’s true of most major cities. As with other cities, Seattle has high crime areas that you should avoid. There are also a lot of great, safe neighborhoods in Seattle that you can choose from. This guide to crime in Seattle will show you the parts of the city you should stay away from, where the safest neighborhoods are and can help you decide if moving to Seattle is right for you.
Understanding the Seattle Crime Rate – How Crime Rates Are Calculated
Seattle crime rate statistics are calculated by the FBI from data collected by their law enforcement agencies. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program began compiling crime statistics in 1930. They collect data from more than 18,000 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies across the country using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
The NIBRS replaced the old Summary Reporting system (SRS) in 2021. The NIBRS captures more information than the SRS and adds details for each crime incident.
Crime data is divided into two categories: violent and property crimes. Violent crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crimes include arson, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.
According to the NIBRS, violent crimes have risen over the past decade in Seattle, from 3,664 reported violent crimes in 2011 to 5,869 in 2021, although much of that increase, about 1,000 violent crimes, was from 2020 to 2021. Property crimes rose from 31,792 in 2011 to 40,192 in 2021, although they have remained relatively stable over the past 10 years.
Here are some important factors that the crime statistics don’t take into consideration when comparing how safe one city is compared to another:
- Population density and degree of urbanization
- Composition of the population
- Stability of the population (mobility, commuting patterns, and transient factors)
- Economic conditions (median income, poverty level, job availability, etc.)
- Modes of transportation and highway systems
- Cultural, educational, recreational, and religious makeup
- Divorce and family cohesiveness
- Effective strength of law enforcement agencies
- Citizens’ attitudes toward crime
- Crime rates are reported for the entire city and give no insight into which neighborhoods have higher crime rates than others
What Is the Seattle Crime Rate?
Here are the crime rate statistics for Seattle, according to the data released by the FBI for 2020:
- The total crime in Seattle was 42,425 (5,499 per 100,000 people)
- The total property crime in Seattle is 37,593 (4,873 per 100,000 people)
- The total number of violent crimes in Seattle reported was 4,832 (626 per 100,000 people)
- You have a 1 in 19 chance of being the victim of a crime in Seattle
Seattle crime rates compared to the national averages:
- Seattle crime rates were 134% higher than the national average
- Violent crimes in Seattle were 62% higher than the national average
- Property crimes in Seattle were 149% higher than the national average
Seattle Crime Map & Crime Reports
The Seattle Police reports online data maps that allow you to view crimes in two ways. The Calls for Service Map displays police responses from the last 24 hours, where you can see the calls the police department is actively responding to. The Crime Data Map (Offenses) displays crime reports over the past 7 days, grouped by their NIBRS classification. Data is updated every 24 hours.
Violent Crime in Seattle
The violent crime rate in Seattle is 626 per 100,000 people. The murder rate was 6.7 per 100,000 people, almost identical to the national average of 6.5 per 100,000 people.
There were 52 murders reported in Seattle in 2020. Between 2011 and 2019, the number of murders ranged from 17 to 30.
The number of violent crimes in Seattle by type in 2020 was:
- Murder – 52
- Rape – 301
- Robbery – 1,471
- Assault – 3,008
The number of violent crimes per 100,000 people (compared to the national average) in Seattle is:
- Murder – 6.7 (6.5)
- Rape – 39.0 (38.4)
- Robbery – 190.7 (73.9)
- Assault – 389.9 (279.7)
You have a 1 in 152 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Seattle.
The Seattle Police Department has 1,200 sworn officers working across five precincts: North, East, South, West, and Southwest. Their goals are to reduce crime and disorder, and use best business practices and effective, skillful police services to keep Seattle safe.
Property Crime in Seattle
The total property crime in Seattle in 2020 was 37,593.
The Seattle property crime rate (number of reported crimes per 100,000 people) compared to the Washington state and the U.S. in 2020 is:
Total property crime
- Seattle – 4,873
- Washington – 2,732
- U.S. – 1,958
- Seattle – 1,351.5
- Washington – 522.1
- U.S. – 314.2
- Seattle – 2,884.6
- Washington – 1,854.2
- U.S. – 1,398.0
- Seattle – 636.5
- Washington – 356.1
- U.S. – 246.0
Although property crime rates are higher in Seattle than statewide or nationally, most crime is concentrated in specific areas. How safe Seattle will be for you depends on where you live.
Dangerous Crime Areas of Seattle
Once you know which neighborhoods in Seattle have the highest crime rates, you can avoid them. Here are some of the worst neighborhoods in Seattle:
- Population: 24,034
- Violent crime rate: 649 per 100k people
- Property crime rate: 8,385 per 100k people
South Park is situated south of downtown Seattle. The total crime rate is 285% above the national average and statistically the most dangerous neighborhood in Seattle. Property crime rates are 328% higher that the rates nationally. You have a 1 in 12 chance of being a victim of a crime in south Park.
- Population: 6,481
- Violent crime rate: 829 per 100k people
- Property crime rate: 4,656 per 100k people
Rainier Beach is another neighborhood to avoid. The total estimated crime rate is 5,485 per 100,000 people, which is 134% higher than the national average. The violent crime rate is 114% higher. You have a 1 in 19 chance of becoming a victim of a crime in Ranier Beach.
- Population: 8,671
- Violent crime rate: 721 per 100k people
- Property crime rate: 3,165 per 100k people
Brighton is located south of downtown Seattle. The crime rate there is 66% above the national average, and the violent crime rate is 86% higher. In Brighton, you have a 1 in 26 chance of becoming a victim of a crime.
Safest Neighborhoods in Seattle
Seattle offers some very nice, safe neighborhoods to live in. Here are some of the safest neighborhoods in Seattle.
- Population: 1,690
- Violent crime rate: 220 per 100k people
- Property crime rate: 1,253 per 100k people
Hawthorne Hills is located next to the University of Washington campus. It’s a wealthy neighborhood in Seattle and one of the safest neighborhoods in the country. The total crime rate is 46% below the national average, and the violent crime rate is an impressive 94% lower. In Hawthorne Hills, you have a 1 in 79 chance of becoming a victim of crime.
- Population: 6,330
- Violent crime rate: 95 per 100k people
- Property crime rate: 1,839 per 100k people
Matthews Beach is a lakeside community north of downtown Seattle, complete with a beach and nearby hiking trails. The neighborhood’s total crime rate is 18% lower than the national average, but the violent crime rate is a whopping 76% lower, making Matthews Beach a very safe place to live. You have a 1 in 52 chance of becoming a victim of a crime in Matthews Beach.
- Population: 5,430
- Violent crime rate: 80 per 100k people
- Property crime rate: 1,984 per 100k people
Arbor Heights is a beautiful neighborhood in west Seattle, only 25 miles from downtown. The median household income there is $118,816. The violent crime rate in Arbor Heights is 79% below the national average, which is why the neighborhood is one of the safest in Seattle. In Arbor Heights, the chances of becoming a victim of a crime are 1 in 49.
Seattle Safety Tips – How to Avoid Crime in Seattle, WA
- Avoid neighborhoods that are known for crime
- Keep aware of surroundings
- Plan your route ahead of time
- Keep windows and doors locked
- Hide your valuables
- Lock your car
- Park in areas that are well lit
- Use your garage
- Don’t be out alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas
- Never ask for or accept a ride from a stranger
Seattle Police Department
Seattle’s law enforcement began with the election of John T. Jordan as town marshal in 1870. The SPD was officially organized on June 2, 1869, and has continued to operate today with the help of dedicated officers and civilians alike. Facts about the Seattle Police Department:
- 1,200 sworn police officers
- Five police precincts
- Headquarters – 610 Fifth Avenue Seattle, WA 98104
- Approximately 18.5 officers per 10,000 population
- The Chief of Police is Adrian Diaz
- Non-emergency phone number is (206) 625-5011
- Seattle crime reports – these crime reports are available for anyone to see
The Seattle Police Department is composed of five precincts further divided into 17 sectors. Each sector is divided into three beats. Patrol officers are assigned beats to better serve and protect the communities of Seattle.
Seattle Crime Rate FAQ
- How safe is Seattle?
Seattle does have some unsafe areas, but you’ll also find some very safe neighborhoods in the city. Overall, Seattle is a safe city.
- Is downtown Seattle safe?
Downtown Seattle is relatively safe during the day and typically clears out after business hours. Take precautions after dark, as you would in any major city.
- What is the crime rate in Seattle?
The overall crime rate in Seattle is 134% higher than the national average. The Seattle crime rate is 5,499 per 100,000 people.
Even though crime rates are higher in Seattle than in some other cities, they are concentrated in specific areas. As long as you avoid those, you’ll find that Seattle is a safe place to live. You’ll also find some very safe neighborhoods in Seattle where you don’t have to worry about crime.
If you are ready to move to the beautiful city of Seattle, call All Ready Moving today at 360-507-2447 or fill out our online form for a free quote! With our top-rated customer service and 18+ years of experience, you can rest assured that the best Seattle movers will take care of all your moving needs.