Is the City of Phoenix Dangerous?

Crime Rates Declining Since 1990s

Sunset at the Superstition Mountains, Arizona.
Diana Robinson Photography/Getty Images

If you are planning a trip to Phoenix, Arizona, and are concerned about your safety the main thing you need to worry about is the heat—and perhaps snakes and scorpions. In general, violent crime has been declining in Phoenix since the 1990s. Phoenix has been enjoying the same general crime rate decrease that the country has been experiencing.

Although crime has been declining, the city does experience occasional upticks of violent crime. Crime rates rise and fall by the year, and a single jump is not always indicative of a trend. When violent crimes occur, most are aggravated assaults, drug-related crime, and incidents involving illegal border trafficking.

Auto Theft

On the whole, Phoenix is a relatively safe city for visiting tourists, except for one thing. Phoenix is in the top 10 annually in the U.S. for auto thefts. So, lock your cars and do not leave valuables visible in the car.

Experts say one of the best ways to prevent theft is to pay attention to where a vehicle is parked. Measures such as having a car alarm or parking closer to businesses in parking lots can help prevent theft. 

“You know if there’s a car thief out there and they look in a vehicle and they see an alarm, they’re going to pick the next car,” said Lt. Mike Pooley, spokesman for the Tempe Police Department. “If they see a vehicle that’s parked in the dark compared to a car that’s parked underneath a lot of light at night, they’re going to pick the car that’s in the dark so they don’t get caught.”


Over the decades, Phoenix has had a downward trend of killings. Out-of-the-ordinary incidents do affect the statistics. Notably, in 2016 Phoenix was plagued by a number of unrelated, multi-victim killings. A serial shooter claimed the lives of seven in 2016, and a 26-year-old man gunned down four members of his family before he was fatally shot by police. Most homicides are gun-related deaths, and many can be tied to drug activity.

Worry About the Sun

Keep in mind, you are in the desert. You are more likely to suffer from heat stroke or a heat-related illness than violent crime in Phoenix. It is not unusual for Phoenix to hit 110 degrees in the summertime. For example, in June 2017, Phoenix had a heat wave and 119 degrees was as one of hottest temperatures in Phoenix recorded history.

Visitors unaccustomed to this type of weather often suffer from heat stroke and dehydration, the symptoms of which include nausea, fatigue, headache, and dizziness. To avoid heat stroke, drink plenty of water, and wear a hat to shade your face. If you're hiking or biking in the mountains, take regular breaks and at least a gallon of water.

Keep in mind, you are in the "Valley of the Sun," the unofficial nickname of Phoenix. You should apply sunscreen on a regular basis to avoid getting burned. Always carry sunglasses, especially when you are driving around sunrise or sunset. Wearing sunglasses will help improve your visibility and can prevent an accident.


Smog and pollution are significant in and around Phoenix. Human-made smog is derived from coal emissions, vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, fires and photochemical reactions of these emissions in the atmosphere. Smog alerts are issued during times of significant pollution and those with breathing and respiratory should take heed of warnings.  

Poisonous Critters

The desert is home to many venomous creatures that you should keep an eye out for if you are hiking or out enjoying the great outdoors—particularly rattlesnakes and scorpions. It is unlikely you will encounter these snakes in the city, but remain extra cautious when out on the trails. If you're bitten or stung, seek medical attention immediately.