Whether you’re visiting St. Petersburg, Florida or planning on moving to St. Petersburg, you may be concerned about crime. Located between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, St. Petersburg holds the world record for the most consecutive days with sunshine (768!) and it’s known for its beaches, cultural attractions, and fun downtown.
St. Petersburg, FL has a reputation for its high crime rate. However, crime has been on a steep downward trend for years and, when you look at crime by neighborhood in St. Petersburg, you’ll find St. Petersburg is a safe place to live! Here’s what you should know about crime in St. Petersburg, how it compares to the national average, high-crime and safe areas of St. Petersburg, and why crime rates don’t tell the whole story.
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Understanding the St. Petersburg Crime Rate
One of the best ways to compare crime in St. Petersburg to where you live now is checking the crime rate. Crime rates make it simple to compare crime between cities and to the national average. A crime rate is a per-capita amount of crime with the number of total crime, property crime, and violent crime per 100,000 residents.
The crime rates listed below, except when noted otherwise, are based on the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics (2019). These rates only include “index crimes,” a specific list of crimes measured and reported each year. There are 8 index crimes divided into violent crime and property crime.
Offenses like drunk driving, drug offenses, and disorderly conduct are not included in crime rates. This is because index crimes are considered more serious, are well tracked and researched, and better reflect your risk of being the victim of crime than, say, how many people are arrested for, say, marijuana possession.
Another effective tool to assess crime in the city is with a St. Petersburg crime map. The Pinellas County Crime Viewer is one option. You can search by crime type, area, and agency like the St. Petersburg police department. You can also use the SpotCrime map of crime in St. Petersburg.
Crime Rate in St. Petersburg vs National Average
To understand the St. Petersburg crime rate, you must have something to compare it to. Here is the current national crime rate:
- 2,580 total crimes per 100,000 people
- 2,362 property crimes per 100,000 people
- 382 violent crimes per 100,000 people
What is the crime rate in St. Petersburg, FL?
- 3,927 total crimes per 100,000 people
- 3,303 property crimes per 100,000 people
- 624 violent crimes per 100,000 people
The St. Petersburg crime rate is higher than the national average, but it’s still far safer than many medium-sized and large cities in the U.S. St. Pete has a population of 261,000. Here’s how crime in St. Petersburg compares to other cities:
- Orlando (pop: 287,000) – 30% more crime than St. Pete
- Tampa (pop: 388,000) – 88% less crime
- Miami (pop: 473,000) – 6% more crime
- St. Louis, MO (pop: 307,000) – 49% more crime
- Cincinnati (pop: 302,000) – 27% more crime
- Pittsburgh (pop: 303,000) – 9% less crime
- Scottsdale (pop: 255,000) – 64% less crime
- New Orleans (pop: 396,000) – 31% more crime
- Salt Lake City (pop: 203,000) – 43% more crime
Most crime in St. Petersburg trended downward between 2008 and 2020. Here’s how crime tracked by the SPPD for the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program compared in 2020 to the 12-year high.
- Larceny down 50% from peak in 2015 to 2020.
- Burglary down 80% from peak in 2009 to 2020.
- Aggravated assault down 40% from peak in 2009 to 2020.
- Car theft: Down 72% from peak in 2009 to 2020.
- Robbery: Down 75% from peak in 2008 to 2020.
- Rape: Up 17% from previous peak in 2013 to 2020.
Property Crime in St. Petersburg
In 2019, there were 8,784 property crimes in St. Petersburg. This included:
- 6,832 larceny or theft
- 1,206 burglaries
- 746 car thefts
- 27 arsons
You have a 1 in 30 chance of being the victim of property crime in St. Pete, FL.
The St. Petersburg property crime rate dropped 2.2% from 2018 to 2019.
The St. Petersburg Police Department reports on the value of stolen property and the recovered value. Here are some examples.
- Stolen motor vehicles: $10.51 million in stolen value; $9.579 recovered value
- Stolen cash: $647,000 in stolen value; $6,000 recovered value
- Stolen firearms: $98,000 in stolen value; $17,000 recovered value
In 2019, 937 stolen vehicles were recovered. Most were stolen locally and recovered locally by police.
Violent Crime in St. Petersburg
In 2019, there were 1,660 violent crimes in St. Petersburg. This included:
- 1,138 aggravated assaults
- 368 robberies
- 133 rapes
- 21 homicides and non-negligent manslaughter
You have a 1 in 160 chance of being the victim of violent crime in St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg murder rate is 7.9 homicides per 100,000 people. While higher than the national average of 5 homicides/100k people, this is still far lower than many cities. Denver, for example, has 9 homicides/100k people. Cincinnati has a homicide rate of 18.9 murders/100k people while St. Louis, MO has a murder rate of 87 murders/100k people!
The St. Petersburg Police Department breaks down violent crime offenses related to domestic violence. A large share of violent crime in St. Petersburg, FL is classified as domestic violence, not violence committed against unknown people.
In 2019, there were 2,185 domestic violence offenses in St. Pete, down 8.4% from 2018. Not all of these offenses are “index crimes” and include:
- Simple assault: 1,787 offenses
- Aggravated assault: 270 (out of 1,155 total aggravated assaults)
- Rape: 42 (out of 125 total rapes)
- Murder: 3 (out of 17 total homicides)
- Manslaughter: 1
- Other domestic violence offenses like stalking, threats, and fondling: 82
Dangerous Areas of St. Petersburg
The St. Petersburg crime rate may seem shockingly high, but it’s important to consider where the crime occurs. A large share of crime, particularly violent crime, occurs in the area referred to as South St. Petersburg or Southside.
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South St. Petersburg is generally considered the area south of downtown bordering Lake Maggiore. Despite over $200 million being spent in the area to reduce poverty and improve education and crime in the 1990s and even later, an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times found this has still done little to help residents. The region is still home to the most violent crime and highest poverty levels in St. Petersburg. The poverty rate increased from 33% in 1999 to 43% in 2012. On average, residents pay 50-80% of their total income on rent and the homeownership rate has dropped dramatically over the last twenty years and is now 20% lower than the rest of St. Petersburg.
A few neighborhoods in Southside may be concerning, but the area is changing and improving thanks to community involvement. Bartlett Park has a major issue with homelessness and residents are concerned the area is becoming a tent city. Childs Park is another neighborhood with more crime than other communities in the area. Crime in Campbell Park is dropping thanks to its proactive neighborhood association and a community policing program.
South St. Pete is often a pejorative term for those living in other areas of the city, although this reputation is unfair. While crime is a problem in the area, many people appreciate the area’s diversity, close-knit environment, and hidden gems like the pink streets of Pinellas Point and the charming neighborhood of Driftwood. You shouldn’t necessarily write South St. Pete off your list! This community has a reputation for crime, but it’s dramatically changed even in the last five years.
Safest Neighborhoods in St. Petersburg
Looking for the safest places to live in St. Petersburg? You’ll find tons of amazing and safe St. Petersburg neighborhoods to explore, whether you’re interested in being close to the action and fun or want a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood. Here are some of the top St. Petersburg neighborhoods to add to your list.
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- Shore Acres. This island paradise is located on the east coast of Pinellas County. Shore Acres is one of the best neighborhoods for families in St. Petersburg with low crime and amenities like the Shore Acres Recreation Center.
- Disston Heights. Home to nearly 40,000 people, Disston Heights is a good choice if you’re looking for a safe and affordable place to live in St. Petersburg. You’ll find many home options with a large population of kids and teenagers.
- Allendale. This is one of the safest and most desirable neighborhoods in St. Petersburg with upscale homes and brick streets under a canopy of large trees.
- Downtown. While there are many crimes reported in downtown St. Petersburg, residents generally enjoy a safe environment with upscale condo living, secure parking, and building security.
- Snell Isle. Founded in 1925, this large community features hundreds of homes with deep water or open bay access.
- Tierra Verde. This census-designated place is usually considered a neighborhood of St. Pete. It features pristine beaches and trails with upscale homes.
St. Petersburg Safety Tips – Avoiding Crime in St. Petersburg, FL
- Be aware of your surroundings. In tourist areas and beach communities, person crimes, auto theft, and car break-ins are more common.
- Install window locks and lock your door at night. Exterior lighting for your yard is also helpful to reduce your risk of burglary.
- Most crime in St. Petersburg occurs in downtown and the neighborhoods to the south and west. Central Avenue is the main street dividing the city.
- Areas a few blocks north generally have less crime. The general area surrounding Central Avenue and I-275 is the center of the high-crime area of St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg Police Department
- Chief of Police: Anthony Holloway
- Sworn officers: 562 (212 civilian personnel)
- Non-emergency number: (727) 893-7780
- Address: St. Petersburg Police Department, 1301 1st Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33705
The St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) was created in 1903 and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). There are three districts of the department to cover policing within the city.
The department uses a number of community outreach programs including social media, a tip 411 app, and Park Walk and Talk to engage residents, address concerns, gather information, and prevent crime. There are also specialized units that target specific problems like auto theft.
St. Petersburg Crime Rate FAQ
Is St. Petersburg, FL safe?
St. Petersburg was recently ranked as the 91st most dangerous city in the U.S. and the 10th most dangerous in the state. However, St. Petersburg is generally safe outside of a few areas.
What is the crime rate in St. Petersburg, Florida?
The St. Petersburg, FL crime rate is 3,927 total crimes per 100,000 people. The violent crime rate is 624 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
What are the bad areas of St. Petersburg, FL?
As a general rule, downtown St. Petersburg, FL and the neighborhoods in the south and to the west of downtown are the high-crime areas of St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg is one of the safest mid-sized cities in Florida with charming neighborhoods for families, singles, and retirees. Ready to relocate to the Sunshine City? Give the St. Petersburg movers at 2 College Brothers a call today to request your free moving estimate!