Thinking about moving to Boston, Massachusetts? When determining if the city is right for you, one of your many concerns may be safety. Is Boston a safe city? Actually, Boston is one of the safest big cities in America! The Boston crime rate is below the national average and far below similarly sized metro areas. It has almost half the crime as Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Chicago!
To help you decide if Boston is right for you, here’s a comprehensive guide to crime in Boston including dangerous areas to avoid and the safest neighborhoods.
Understanding the Boston Crime Rate
The most common and effective way to compare the safety of different cities is by comparing crime rates. A city’s crime rate is reported as the number of crimes for every 100,000 residents. This methodology allows you to compare cities of different sizes, understand your risk of being the victim of crime, and assess the scale of different types of crime in the city.
The Boston crime rate below is based on the 2019 FBI Uniform Crime Statistics. The FBI determines crime rates by dividing the number of police-reported crimes in a city and dividing it by the population. This number is multiplied by 100,000 to calculate the crime rate.
You will usually see three crime rates for a city: an overall crime rate, a property crime rate, and a violent crime rate. Violent crimes include assault, homicide, robbery, and sexual assault. Property crime includes vandalism, arson, car theft, and shoplifting. Not all crimes are included in crime rates. For example, drug crimes are not included because they do not reflect your risk of being the victim of crime.
As you assess Boston crime, it’s helpful to compare it to the national crime rate:
- 2,580 crimes per 100,000 people
- 2,362 property crimes per 100,000 people
- 383 violent crimes per 100,000 people
You can also compare the Boston crime rate to the Massachusetts average. Keep in mind crime rates are usually higher in metro areas like Boston compared to suburbs and rural areas. The Massachusetts crime rate is 1,507 crimes per 100k people. There is a 1 in 66 chance of being a victim of crime. The Massachusetts violent crime rate is 327.6/100k people. The property crime rate in Massachusetts is 1,180 per 100k people.
What is the crime rate in Boston?
- The total crime rate in Boston is 2,639 crimes per 100,000 people.
- You have a 1 in 38 chance of being the victim of crime in Boston.
- In 2018, there were 18,331 crimes reported in the city of 695,000.
Violent Crime in Boston
You have a 1 in 161 chance of being the victim of violent crime in Boston. The Boston violent crime rate is 622 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The Boston murder rate is 8.1 murders per 100k people.
The 4,324 crimes reported in one year in Boston fell into the following categories:
- 2,818 aggravated assaults
- 1,172 robberies
- 278 rapes
- 56 murders and non-negligent manslaughter
Violent crime declined in Boston from 2018 to 2019. There were 38 homicides in 2019, down from 56 in 2018. 29 of these homicides were shootings. The number of rapes and attempted sexual assaults also declined. Robberies and attempted robberies decreased to 1,038 in 2019.
Some forms of violent crime increased in 2019 including aggravated domestic assault, assault, and non-fatal shootings.
Property Crime in Boston
You have a 1 in 50 chance of being the victim of property crime in Boston. The Boston property crime rate is 2,016 property crimes per 100,000 people.
In a single year, there were 14,007 property crimes reported including:
- 11,000 thefts and larceny
- 1,853 burglaries
- 1,154 motor vehicle thefts
- 0 arsons
When it comes to burglary, Boston is the second-safest large city in the United States according to Protect America, a home security company.
High Crime Areas of Boston
Boston is a safe city, but that doesn’t mean it’s without crime and high-risk areas. As with most cities, crime tends to be hyper-localized to specific neighborhoods. The best way to stay safe in Boston is to avoid moving to one of the more dangerous areas of Boston or visiting at night.
Downtown Boston in 2019 had two high-profile abductions of women that occurred outside nightclubs, one of which ended in death. The downtown area also has a higher rate of reported rapes and attempted rapes which increased in 2019 over 2018 despite rapes decreasing overall in the city.
- Central/Downtown Boston is where much of the Boston crime occurs. Downtown has 158% more crime than Boston overall and a violent crime rate of 1,600 crimes per 100k people.
- Roxbury has 104% more crime than Boston overall with a high violent crime rate of 1,271/100k people. Roxbury has a higher rate of rape and attempted rape and it’s most known for drugs and violent crime. It’s earned a couple of nicknames among Boston residents: Glocksbury and Methadone Mile.
- Dorchester with up to 36% more crime than the Boston average depending on whether you’re in South or North Dorchester. Some parts of Dorchester are quite safe as this is a very large neighborhood with almost 88,000 residents. However, you’ll want to be careful going into many areas of Dorchester known for violent crime. Dorchester has also earned its own nicknames among Bostonians: Lock-your-Dorchester and Deathchester.
- Mattapan (now part of Dorchester) is one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Boston but has a fairly high crime rate. It has a reputation for crime, especially violent crime, firearms, and drugs. It’s earned a dubious nickname: Murderpan/Murdapan.
Some areas of Boston that once had a reputation for crime and poverty have been completely transformed by revitalization and rising home prices. The best example is South Boston which was a poor and dangerous area but is now a safe and close-knit community with high housing prices.
Safest Neighborhoods in Boston
Remember that crime in Boston is very localized. Even in neighborhoods considered dangerous, you’ll find safe places to live – especially in very large communities like Dorchester. Here are some of the safest places to live in Boston and the most desirable with amenities you’ll appreciate.
- Jamaica Plain, a diverse community with crime rates 25% below the national average
- Hyde Park in South Boston which is safer than 60% of Massachusetts cities.
- MIT, known for its young professionals and students, has a crime rate 71% below the national average.
- West Roxbury which has a suburban feel with 68% less crime than the Boston average. Don’t be fooled by the bad reputation of Roxbury as a whole: this quiet area is great for families and more affordable than many areas of Boston.
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To help you find safe places to live in Boston, try using this Boston crime map. Universal Hub is also a great source for news on crime in Boston. This community news hub combines local news from a variety of sources, including local social media posts.
Boston Safety Tips – How to Avoid Crime in Boston
- Areas popular with tourists during the day in Boston are more dangerous at night. This includes the Common and downtown areas with nightclubs. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid cutting through the Common alone at night.
- Be wary in high-crime areas of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.
- Be sure to lock your doors and windows to avoid being the victim of burglary, one of the most common types of property crime in Massachusetts.
- Crime on campuses in Boston is a fairly common problem, particularly theft of packages, cell phones, and laptops. Simple assault and sexual assault may also occur on campus. Be aware of your surroundings and consider a campus escort service. Boston University offers Scarlet SafeWalk nightly.
Boston Police Department
- Boston Police Commissioner: William G. Gross
- Sworn officers: 2,143 (779 civilian personnel)
- Non-emergency number: (617) 343-4500
- Address: Boston Police Headquarters, 1 Schroeder Plaza, Boston, MA 02120
The Boston Police Department (BPD) is America’s oldest police department and dates to 1838. It’s the largest police force in New England and the 20th largest in the United States. Like many departments in the U.S. that have adopted community-oriented policing, BPD requires all officers to live within the Boston city limits. There are 11 neighborhood districts and three zones, each district with a Captain and each zone with a Deputy Superintendent.
District B-3 includes Mattapan and North Dorchester with over 36,000 residents and District C-11 serves Dorchester with 92,000 residents. Roxbury is in District B-2 with 77,000 residents. These three districts account for most serious crime in Boston.
The Boston Police Department has several divisions including a Forensic Technology Division, Family Justice Division, Police Rescue/Recovery Dive Team, Boston Police Harbor Unit, and the Boston Police Special Operations Unit.
Boston Crime Rate FAQ
Is Boston a safe place to live?
Absolutely, Boston is considered a very safe city, especially for a large city. The crime rate is lower than the national average.
Is Downtown Boston safe?
While downtown is largely considered safe, crime does occur, especially property crime and violent crime near bars and nightclubs at night.
Is Boston safer than New York?
Boston is the second-safest large city in the U.S. after El Paso, TX. New York is considered a metropolis, not a city, but it has a crime rate comparable to Boston.
Despite a few dangerous areas of Boston where crime tends to be very localized, Boston is a very safe city and an amazing place to live. In most neighborhoods, you won’t need to worry about crime with basic precautions. If you’re ready to relocate to Boston and you’ve found a safe neighborhood to make your home, call the friendly movers at Mass Bay Movers. We’re ready to help you settle into your new home without the stress and hassle!