Milwaukee is home to a lot of great things, such as the Fiserv Forum where local sports teams play on the regular, the Milwaukee Public Market with its multitude of vendors, and the Harley Davidson Museum. But is the city itself a safe place to visit and live in?
Milwaukee is one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S., and it is only getting worse over time. Milwaukee’s violent crime rates are very high, with a higher-than-average homicide rate and the fourth-highest increase in homicides among major U.S. cities in 2022.
If you want to know the specifics of crime in Milwaukee, you’ll want to read on. There are a lot of different factors that go into determining just how dangerous a metro area is.
Is there a lot of crime in Milwaukee?
Crime rates in metropolitan areas are typically divided into two different categories: violent and property. Violent crimes are those committed against other people (things such as rape, murder, and assault) and property crimes are those which involve property (such as theft, burglary, and vandalism).
Milwaukee’s violent crime rate is 697.1, meaning that per every 10,000 people living in Milwaukee, about 697 of them on average will be victims of a violent crime every year. The property crime rate in Milwaukee is 1902.4. Both of these numbers are significantly higher than the national average and are high compared to similarly sized cities as well. Compared to all the other cities in Wisconsin, Milwaukee is not only the most dangerous but also the only one to rank among the top 50 most dangerous cities in the U.S. On a crime index of 1-100 with 100 being the safest, Milwaukee stands at a 5.
Your statistical chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Milwaukee are 1 in 61, compared to 1 in 312 in Wisconsin at large.
MILWAUKEE ANNUAL CRIMES
|Number of Crimes||9,514||16,587||26,101|
(per 1,000 residents)
Car theft in Milwaukee has been on the rise in recent years, with Milwaukee making a jump of 72% in car thefts from 2020 to 2021. The rate of car theft in Milwaukee went from 345.19 in 2020 to 597.83 (car thefts per 10,000 residents) in 2021. This new higher number is enough to get Milwaukee into the number eight spot on the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Theft Hot List.
Milwaukee has a homicide rate that is several times higher than the national average, and not only that, but homicide numbers have increased in recent years. By July 27 of 2022, Milwaukee had already had 133 homicides, putting Milwaukee on track to beat its own record of 193 homicides in one year. This number was a 40% increase from the previous year, making Milwaukee the city with the 4th fastest growing homicide rate.
Driving in Milwaukee
Driving in Milwaukee is not for the faint of heart. In fact, Milwaukee ranks as one of the worst cities in the U.S. to drive in for several reasons. Not only is the traffic pretty dang bad during the day and night, and the potholes are terrible, but in terms of safety and traffic deaths the city fares really poorly. Drunk driving and speeding are both very prevalent in Milwaukee. The issues are so widespread that driving safety was a key part of the city’s most recent mayoral campaign. Traffic deaths are so easily preventable, but are still far too common in Milwaukee. The city is certainly trying to curtail these losses to make driving to work and school safer in Milwaukee.
While Milwaukee’s gangs are not nearly as prominent as they are in some cities on the West Coast, they are still active in the city, and certainly account for a good chunk of the violence that takes place in the city. Gangs have been a permanent fixture in Milwaukee since the 1980s, and will likely remain so for a long time if things do not drastically improve in Milwaukee.
Seasonal Rates of Crime
One thing to know about crime in Milwaukee is that it is much worse during the summer than it is during the winter. It gets really cold during the winter, meaning that people largely stay indoors during that time. During the summer is when the murders really pick up in Milwaukee, and it’s also when a lot of other crimes increase as well. Summerfest in and of itself brings a large number of people to Milwaukee, which can cause a bit of increased crime by the nature of the crowds.
The Most Dangerous Areas in Milwaukee
While Milwaukee as a whole is pretty dangerous, there are always some areas that are better than others, and some that are worse than others. Here are some of the areas that are better off being avoided:
- North Division has a lot of crimes, with 10,914 total reported crimes and a population of 6,023.
- Brookfield is also one area that is best off being avoided. Some areas of it aren’t nearly as bad as some of the more downtown areas of the city though.
- Metcalfe Park is a particularly rough little spot
- Franklin Heights has a population around the same size as that of the North Division and is one of the most poverty and crime-stricken areas in the city.
Some of the safer areas of the city are those around the colleges, although you will likely be forced to deal with drunken college students around there. One area that is pretty safe to visit compared to the rest of Milwaukee is the Riverwalk area, as well as most of the waterfront area bordering lake Michigan by the art museum and Bradford Beach. Of course, it is still best to avoid being alone at night, but these areas are frequented by so many families and other people that it discourages crime.
One other thing to note is that while much (not all, of course) of inner Milwaukee is dangerous, the areas surrounding the city in the greater Metropolitan area (with the exception of Brookfield) tend to be pretty safe. The suburbs of Whitefish Bay, Shorewood, Glendale, Fox Point, and Bayside are all pretty safe, despite lying within a short drive of Milwaukee’s downtown.