The third most populated city in Texas, Dallas has plenty to offer travelers: an incredible zoo and museums, lovely neighborhoods, impressive skyscrapers, more shopping malls than you could ever visit, and a rising food scene. But the state’s big northeastern city also has a dark side, which is why it’s prudent to consider Dallas safety.
As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas—and unfortunately, that goes for the Dallas crime rate as well. While some of Texas’s cities are safer than the national average—including El Paso, Sugarland, and others—Dallas, Texas, is currently experiencing an unfortunate uptick in homicides.
The Dallas crime rate is higher than more than 90 percent of U.S. cities, which means that citizens and tourists in Dallas are more prone to become victims—though it’s of note to travelers that while Dallas has seen an increase in violent crime, it has actually enjoyed a recent decrease in property crime, which is the type of crime that tends to affect visitors more often. Still, the odds of becoming a victim of some type of crime are much higher than in Dallas than they are in the vast majority of other areas in the United States.
More than 1.2 million Texans hold active concealed-carry permits, and gun ownership in Texas is higher than the U.S. average. Texas has no laws restricting the possession of assault weapons. Four of America’s 10 most deadly mass shootings have happened in Texas, albeit not in Dallas.
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Tips for Dallas Safety
- Is Dallas safe? That depends on where you go—and where you don’t go. Knowing the places to avoid in Dallas is key to saving yourself from becoming part of the Dallas crime rate. Read on for a rundown of the most dangerous parts of Dallas.
- Stay vigilant while making your way around Dallas. Pickpockets and scammers exist, and they prey on tourists who seem distracted or naive. Don’t let anyone steal your attention away from your belongings or your person. Additionally, if you’re using an Uber or a Lyft, make sure to use the apps’ safety features and take all the necessary precautions.
- Those concerned about tornado warnings in Dallas have a valid concern: Texas is one of America’s tornado hot spots. If you do hear of tornado warnings in Dallas, seek shelter immediately, as far away from any windows as possible. Cover your head and do not remain in a vehicle or mobile home.
Neighborhoods to Avoid in Dallas
If you’re planning a trip, it’s important to understand which are the bad parts of Dallas so that you can make sure to stay away from the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The Dallas neighborhoods to avoid—those that spike the Dallas crime rate—include South Dallas, West Dallas, and certain parts of East Dallas. Break-ins and thefts are common in Fair Park, while Greenville and Mesquite are less safe than their surrounding neighborhoods, according to SafeAround. Other areas to avoid in Dallas, due to their high crime rates, include South Boulevard-Park Row, Cedar Crest, South Dallas, Convention Center District, Cockrell Hill, Northwest Dallas, and Wolf Creek.
Statistically, the safer neighborhoods in Dallas include Frisco, north of El Dorado, which boasts its area’s lowest crime rates, followed by the small communities of Double Oak and West McKinney. Other safe neighborhoods in Dallas are North Dallas, Eastern Colleyville, Bent Tree, Oakdale, Country Brook, Timber Creek, and North Richland Hills. The parts of Frisco east of Preston and west of Stonebriar Mall are also considered safe.
SafeAround lists Oak Lawn, Northeast Dallas, Arts District, and Southwest Dallas as areas with lower-than-average crime rates.
One other thing for travelers to know about the dangerous parts of Dallas is that some of the lower-priced hotels along the freeway, especially in the Harry Hines and Coppell areas of Dallas, are nicknamed “meth hotels” for good reason. They’re hotbeds of drugs, prostitution, trafficking, and other forms of crime. Avoid these shady lodgings in favor of larger, more reputable hotels that are located far away from the most dangerous neighborhoods in Dallas.
All this said, travelers should keep in mind that most victims of crime in Dallas know their perpetrators personally and that most crimes occur a good distance away from popular tourist areas, except for one crime in particular: pickpocketing.
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How to Get Around Safely in Dallas
Pickpockets in Dallas are known to steal wallets right out of people’s handbags and then quickly use the debit or credit cards to make large purchases. A few years ago, police discovered a pickpocketing ring in Dallas that was forcing small children to steal wallets out of purses at popular restaurants.
In general, when making your way around Dallas, take all of the same precautions as you would while sightseeing in any other big city—keep your valuables in a hotel safe or otherwise out of sight, and be especially vigilant in crowded tourist spots and on public transportation. Steer clear of high-crime areas and isolated spots, and don’t walk alone at night if you can avoid it. If you find yourself getting robbed or mugged, do not resist or put up a fight. Simply cooperate and hand over your valuables; your stuff is way less important than your body.
In Dallas, most people rely on cars to get around, since the city isn’t particularly walkable and public transportation doesn’t always run efficiently. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) does run a light-rail system as well as buses, which allow travelers to get around the downtown tourist areas fairly easily. Whenever you’re on public transit, keep all valuables under wraps and be aware of where other people are situated in relation to you, to deter theft or harassment.
Dallas offers plenty of taxis and app-based hired car services, including Uber and Lyft, though keep in mind that there are inherent risks involved in ridesharing—more than 100 Uber drivers in the U.S. have been accused of assaulting passengers—so if you do choose to hire a driver from your smartphone, remember that Uber has a 911 button, as well as the ability to share the progress of your ride with a friend or family member.
When waiting for your ride in Dallas, choose a busy, well-lit area. Confirm that the license plate and driver’s face match what comes up on your phone before getting into the vehicle, then sit in the back seat, never the front. Don’t tell the driver your name when he or she arrives; instead, ask the driver for the name on the booking.
In Dallas, you can expect the typical tourist scams: people trying to distract you so that they can take advantage of you, or shady characters on the street trying to sell you valuable items that they “found.” Credit card scams are common in Dallas as well, so if you must withdraw cash, use ATMs only at well-known banks or hotels.
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Tornado Warnings in Dallas
Tornado warnings in Dallas happen when meteorologists spot a circular storm approaching the city on the Doppler radar.
If you’re planning on traveling to Dallas, understand in advance that the city is considered a tornado hot spot and is along the path of America’s “tornado alley.” High tornado season in Texas runs from late spring through early summer, though it’s possible for tornadoes to strike Dallas at any time of year.
Texas often gets America’s most annual tornadoes, with wind speeds reaching upwards of 140 miles per hour, causing billions of dollars in damage. Recently, Texas’s tornadoes have been getting stronger and more severe, possibly due to climate change.
If you do hear of tornado warnings in Dallas, seek shelter immediately, as far away from windows as possible. Cover your head and do not remain in a vehicle or mobile home.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Best Luxury Hotels in Dallas
- 10 Best Cheap Hotels in Dallas
- 10 Cool Boutique Hotels in Dallas
- 10 Must-See Dallas Attractions
- 10 Dallas Museums Every Traveler Should Visit
- The Best Cheap Eats in Dallas
- 10 Best Restaurants in Dallas
- 10 Best Dallas Steakhouses
- What to Wear in Dallas
- What to Pack for Dallas
—original reporting by Avital Andrews