Albuquerque features beautiful outdoor spaces like Petroglyph National Monument, a vibrant arts and culture scene with heavy Native American influence, and a burgeoning craft brewery industry.
Affordable prices, access to outdoor recreation, and a variety of music venues, sporting stadiums, and museums bring 6 million tourists to Albuquerque each year. The city is also famous because of its connection to the hit television show Breaking Bad.
Although the events of Breaking Bad are fictitious, there is a reason the show was set in Albuquerque: the city has a problem with crime. Albuquerque tops the list as the most crime-ridden metropolitan area in the western states.
The city also ranks highly on the list of most dangerous cities in America. Albuquerque’s crime stems from limited economic opportunities and poor urban planning.
Like most large American cities, Albuquerque’s crime is localized. Unsurprisingly, inner-city neighborhoods and suburbs on the edge of the metropolitan area are where crime flourishes.
Is Albuquerque Safe to Visit?
Parts of Albuquerque are safe to visit. However, the city does experience a high rate of random crime. Isolated incidents of robbery and assault are not uncommon in safe neighborhoods, and bad neighborhoods experience a high frequency of drug and gang-related crime.
Tourists visiting Albuquerque are at an increased risk of experiencing petty or auto theft. Petty theft is ubiquitous in Albuquerque. Even safe neighborhoods in Albuquerque experience pickpockets and bag snatching.
Auto theft is also a major issue in Albuquerque. Unfortunately, the city boasts the 6th highest rate of auto theft, according to 2020 data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Although property crimes are far more common than any other crimes in Albuquerque, violent crime is still an issue. Police data from 2021 shows an average violent crime rate three times higher than the national average.
To a lesser extent, Albuquerque’s desert climate is also a concern for tourists. With summer temperatures that regularly climb into the 90s and an elevation of over 5,000 ft, Albuquerque puts tourists at a moderately high risk of experiencing heat-related illnesses.
Crime in Albuquerque
In Albuquerque, crime rates are high across the board. According to the Albuquerque Police’s annual report on crime, there were 46,391 property crimes and 15,765 violent crimes recorded in 2021.
These numbers place Albuquerque among America’s most dangerous cities. Tourists visiting Albuquerque are at increased risk of experiencing aggravated robbery, auto theft, and petty theft.
The chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Albuquerque are 1 in 20, an alarmingly high statistic for tourists looking for a peaceful vacation.
Simple assault, aggravated assault, auto theft, and larceny are just some of the most common criminal offenses in Albuquerque. Burglary and sex offense rates In Albuquerque are also higher than the national average.
Tips for Avoiding Property Crime
Albuquerque tourists are more likely to experience property crime than violent crime, so here are a few tips on keeping your belongings safe during your trip:
- Stow valuables out of sight. This applies to your person as much as your car. If traveling on foot, never carry valuables in your hands and avoid storing items in your back pockets. If traveling by car, secure your items in the glove compartment or trunk. Be sure to lock your vehicle.
- Auto theft is common in Albuquerque. Avoid parking your car in remote areas or on dimly lit streets. If you happen to drive into Albuquerque, consider purchasing a car theft prevention device to deter potential thieves.
- Check the reviews of your accommodation before booking a stay. Certain hotels and areas are known hangouts for suspicious activity.
Tips for Avoiding Violent Crime
While violent crimes typically unfold between residents, violent crime can affect tourists. Here are a few tips on avoiding confrontation when in Albuquerque:
- Travel in a group. According to most travel advisory boards, traveling in a group greatly reduces the likelihood of confrontation or violence. Solo travel to Albuquerque isn’t recommended.
- Avoid interactions with strangers on the street. Practice common courtesies such as “Hello,” and “Thank you,” but avoid drawn-out interactions with strangers. The person you’re talking to may be harmless, but it distracts you from your surroundings, making you an easy target for criminals.
- Carry a self-defense weapon. Carrying a self-defense weapon may seem extreme, but Albuquerque is known for random violent attacks. A growing mentally unwell and homeless population means violent attacks can be highly unpredictable. Tourists visiting Albuquerque are strongly encouraged to consider carrying a self-defense weapon.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
The simplest way to avoid bad neighborhoods in Albuquerque is to travel with a local. However, that option won’t be available to everyone.
Unfortunately, the next best way to avoid Albuquerque crime is to plan a trip somewhere else. But, if you have your heart set on visiting Albuquerque, here are some areas that should be on your radar.
San Jose is a southern neighborhood located adjacent to the airport. The boundaries of the neighborhood are the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks to the west, Gibson Boulevard to the north, Interstate 25 to the east, and Woodward Road to the south.
The neighborhood is largely residential with a few small shops that will be of no interest to tourists. You may travel through this neighborhood if you are flying into the Albuquerque airport. If so, lock your doors and drive with a purpose.
Quigley Park is an east-central neighborhood in Albuquerque with a violent crime rate that is nearly 1,400% higher than the national average.
The neighborhood features single and multifamily homes as well as several apartment complexes: attractions that don’t draw a crowd. Conventional tourists looking for food, fun, and sun will naturally miss Quigley Park when visiting Albuquerque.
The neighborhood is bordered by San Mateo Boulevard NE to the west, Candeleria Road NE to the north, San Pedro Drive NE to the east, and the Coronado Freeway to the south.
The International District
Referred to by locals as “The War Zone,” the International District of Albuquerque is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the area.
The International District is a group of neighborhoods that make up the southeastern portion of Albuquerque. The area is home to the state fairgrounds, some casinos, historic route 66, and an abominably high crime rate.
All the neighborhoods that make up the International District suffer from crime rates well above the national average. If you plan to visit one of the casinos in the International District, be sure to secure your car.
You’ll be safe once inside the casino, but your vehicle will be vulnerable to thieves outside. Sightseeing along Route 66 is more or less safe during the day.
Pay attention to your surroundings, though. Many petty criminals in this area are opportunists and will quickly seize the opportunity to raid an unlocked car or nab an unattended bag.
Unsurprisingly, Downtown features more municipal and cultural amenities than any other neighborhood in Albuquerque. Perhaps also unsurprising is Downtown’s high crime rate.
In 2021, there were more than 6,000 crimes reported per 100,000 people in Downtown Albuquerque. Tourists can increase their safety in Downtown Albuquerque by following a few common-sense rules:
- Travel in a group. Always travel in a group. Criminals prey on easy targets, so the more people in your party, the less likely your chances of being targeted by criminals. Traveling in a group is recommended during the day and at night.
- If you’re driving, empty your car of all valuables. Car break-ins are extremely common in Albuquerque. Emptying your car ahead of time helps mitigate the damage of a potential break-in.
- Consider carrying a self-defense weapon like pepper spray. Violent crimes are common in Downtown Albuquerque. Pepper spray is legal to carry in New Mexico and is a cheap, effective way to stay safe. Of course, many venues and nightclubs do not permit weapons of any kind on their premises.
Jackson Area is a small, eastern neighborhood of Albuquerque with a violent crime rate 939% higher than the national average. The neighborhood is bounded by Eubank Boulevard NE to the east, Indian School Road NE to the north, Morris Street NE to the west, and Constitution Ave NE to the south.
There is no reason for a tourist to visit Jackson Area, and its remote location means tourists are unlikely to find themselves in the neighborhood.
Although tourists may not wind up in the Jackson Area neighborhood, they should use its crime rates to properly frame how dangerous Albuquerque is. Other dangerous areas tourists should avoid are South Broadway, Barelas, Santa Barbara, and Nob Hill.
Things to Consider
Here are some additional considerations before planning a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico:
- Albuquerque may appear to be an attractive vacation destination because of its economical prices, but savings on accommodations are typically spent on safe, efficient transport through the city. If you are planning a trip to Albuquerque to save a few bucks, you might want to consider a safer city.
- Albuquerque gets hot during the summer. Late spring and early fall are the best times to enjoy the outdoor amenities Albuquerque has to offer.
- Drunk driving is a problem in New Mexico, especially in Albuquerque. If you suspect your cab or rideshare driver is under the influence, kindly decline the drive. If you have already accepted the ride, you can report drunk driving to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety by calling 877-394-4258.
- In 2021 there was an increase in road rage incidents that resulted in the loss of life or property damage. Tourists should be aware that Albuquerque is a thoroughfare for the drug trade. Armed criminals frequently pass through the city, so tourists should avoid escalating confrontations on the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some common questions about visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Why is Albuquerque so dangerous?
Albuquerque was at the center of a drug epidemic long before Breaking Bad aired. The city has struggled with high drug addiction rates since the 90s. Today, drug abuse is linked to a large portion of property thefts in Albuquerque.
Additionally, gang activity surrounding the drug epidemic has increased Albuquerque’s homicide and assault rates. A lacking of funding and development has led to a year-over-year increase in violent crime and driven many to leave Albuquerque for good.
Is it better to stay in Santa Fe or Albuquerque?
It depends. The two cities are arguably New Mexico’s most well-known and are only an hour apart by car, but despite their proximity, they are decidedly different places. Santa Fe is a small city with a big art scene.
There are picturesque adobe villas, stunning sunsets, and cute restaurants, but there isn’t much in the way of big-city amenities. As locals will tell you, most things in Santa Fe close at 5 pm, even on the weekend.
However, if safety is your top concern, Santa Fe outranks Albuquerque. Albuquerque is more than five times the size of Santa Fe.
Accordingly, Albuquerque’s entertainment options are more numerous than Santa Fe’s. Tourists looking to get the most bang for their buck are better off planning a trip to Albuquerque than Santa Fe.
Is Albuquerque safe for tourists?
Albuquerque is safer for tourists than residents, but the city is still dangerous. The safe areas of Albuquerque are predominantly residential neighborhoods with little to do for tourists. Tourists planning an outdoor adventure are likely to be safer than those who plan to spend the majority of their time in the city.
How dangerous is Albuquerque, New Mexico?
Albuquerque, New Mexico is about as dangerous as it gets in the US. The city’s crime rate is more than four times the national average. Violent crime is concerningly common in Albuquerque and has been on the rise since the pandemic broke out in 2019.
What part of Albuquerque is safest?
The northeastern portion of Albuquerque tends to be the safest. There are also some safe neighborhoods within the northwestern city limits. However, even these areas experience regular random crime. Crime in Albuquerque is concentrated in the central-eastern and southern neighborhoods but is generally more sporadic than in cities of comparable size.
Where should you not stay in Albuquerque?
Stay as close to the northeast as possible. The southern portion of the city should be avoided entirely. There are safe places to stay in the eastern part of Albuquerque, but neighborhoods tend to get more dangerous the closer you get to the Sandia mountains.
Is Albuquerque worth visiting?
Albuquerque is worth visiting. Although there is a lot of crime, the city has a rich Native American culture that is worth exploring. If learning about other cultures doesn’t rank highly on your vacation to-do list, consider a vacation to a safer city. Though Breaking Bad fans may feel otherwise on the matter.
So, Is Albuquerque Safe to Visit?
Albuquerque is a dangerous city. A safe trip to the city is possible but requires detailed planning. Tourists visiting Albuquerque should exercise a high level of caution when visiting and avoid the southern portion of the city if possible. Safe travels!