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San Luis Obispo Crime Rate

San Luis Obispo Crime Rate | 👮 Is San Luis Obispo Safe? [Data, Stats, Reports, Map]

Last Updated on: 2nd August 2023, 03:35 pm

Is moving to SLO County in your future? Ahead of living in San Luis Obispo, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns including the risk of crime and where you should live.

Is San Luis Obispo safe? While it has a crime rate higher than the national average, this is typical for California. SLO is generally a very safe city with everything from quiet residential neighborhoods and canyon homes surrounded by vineyards to exciting, walkable urban communities. Here’s what you need to know about crime in San Luis Obispo before visiting or moving to the area.

Understanding the San Luis Obispo Crime Rate

To understand SLO CAL crime, you can start by looking at crime rates. State, metro, and city crime rates you see are based on the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program which collects crime data from law enforcement agencies. The UCR program has been phased out and replaced with the more robust National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), although the change has not yet been reflected in crime rates.

San Luis Obispo crime rates are based on the number of index crimes in the city. Index crimes are eight offenses (four violent and four property) that are considered serious, easily tracked, and representative of your risk of being victimized. However, the FBI cautions against using these crime rates to compare crime between cities and states because they can be misleading. Crime rates do not give you any insight into the factors causing crime or even how localized the crime is in the area.

While the San Luis Obispo, CA crime rate seems high, keep in mind crime is concentrated in the downtown area and college campus. Most crime in the city is property crime, and homicides and shootings are rare.

San Luis Obispo Crime Rate

The crime rate in San Luis Obispo is:

  • 4,043 crimes per 100,000
  • 402 violent crimes per 100,000
  • 3,641 property crimes per 100,000

You have a 1 in 25 chance of being the victim of crime. The SLO crime rate is 46% higher than the California crime rate and 63% higher than the national average.

By comparison, the national crime rate is 2,896 crimes per 100,000 people with 2,441 property offenses and 455 violent offenses per 100,000 people.

“I think it’s a safe city but I also encourage our residents to be aware of their surroundings,” San Luis Obispo Police Captain Jeff Smith said in a 2018 interview. Smith also pointed out how the way a crime is filed can skew crime rates and apparent risk as the difference between burglary (violent offense) and theft (property offense) is the use of force. Simply grabbing an item out of someone’s hand can transform theft into burglary.

San Luis Obispo Police Logs & Crime Maps

One of the best tools for assessing your risk and finding safe neighborhoods in SLO is the San Luis Obispo crime map. The community crime map from the SLO Police Department is an interactive map that shows offenses by neighborhood. You can filter by offense type and neighborhood.

These resources offer greater insight into crime in San Luis Obispo, CA.

  • San Luis Obispo police log. The San Luis Obispo police logs are posted daily Monday to Thursday.
  • Cal Poly annual security report includes Cal Poly SLO crime statistics for 2018-2020 with a breakdown of violent and property crimes and offenses involving alcohol, drugs, and weapons.
  • Cal Poly police logs summarize incidents that have been reported to Cal Poly University Police over the past 60 days.

Violent Crime in San Luis Obispo

The San Luis Obispo violent crime rate is 402 violent crimes per 100,000 with 192 total violent crimes reported in 2019. That’s a 1 in 249 chance of being the victim of violent crime.

San Luis Obispo has 9.6% more violent crime than the national average but 9% less violent crime than California. There were 0 San Luis Obispo murders in 2019.

Violent crime included:

  • 114 aggravated assaults
  • 44 rapes
  • 34 robberies

In 2020, the San Luis Obispo County homicide rate reached its highest level since 2003 with seven homicides in the county in 2020, up from 5 in 2019. This does not include killings by police. There were three people shot by San Luis Obispo County law enforcement in 2020.

The Cal Poly Police Department reported the following serious crimes on campus in 2020.

  • Rape: 6 (down from 20 in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Dating violence: 6 (down from 24 in 2019)
  • Domestic violence: 2
  • Stalking: 32 (23 campus residential)

Property Crime in San Luis Obispo

There were 1,738 property crimes in San Luis Obispo in 2019 with 3,641 property crimes per 100,000 people. That is a 1 in 27 chance of being the victim of property crime. These property crimes included:

  • 1,387 thefts
  • 277 burglaries
  • 74 car thefts
  • 25 arsons

The SLO property crime rate is 56% higher than the California average and 72.6% higher than the national average.

The Cal Poly Police Department reported 11 burglaries in 2020, two of which were on residential campus, and five car thefts, none of which occurred on residential campus.

Safest Neighborhoods in San Luis Obispo

The San Luis Obispo police divide the city into 13 distinct neighborhoods. Each neighborhood is assigned a Neighborhood Officer who identifies specific issues and develops solutions to neighborhood issues. These neighborhoods are also used for the SLO crime map.

Ready to explore the safe San Luis Obispo neighborhoods perfect for students, families, and retirees? We’ll go over the neighborhoods with the lowest crime and cover the safest San Luis Obispo subdivisions and communities in each one.

Neighborhood #10 – South Hills area, Little Italy & Railroad District

This neighborhood is south of downtown and centered on the South Hills Open Space. It includes most of the Railroad District, SLO’s hip neighborhood popular with families and young professionals. The Railroad District is very active with great walkability and a short commute to downtown, the university, and surrounding neighborhoods. Residents enjoy excellent public transportation and the Railroad Bike Path that make it easy to get around.

The neighborhood also includes all of Little Italy, southeast of downtown and next to the Railroad District, the perfect place for fresh, homemade pasta, authentic Italian cuisine, and local wines.

Reported crime over an entire year included:

  • 61 thefts (35% of crime)
  • 34 thefts from cars
  • 21 car thefts
  • 20 burglaries (5 residential)
  • 5 aggravated assaults
  • 1 sexual assault

Neighborhood #13 – Japantown & San Luis Ranch

One of the safest and most desirable places to live, this neighborhood is home to two top communities in SLO. The small and historic Japantown is one of SLO’s most affordable neighborhoods. The San Luis Ranch community is one of the most exciting and beautiful neighborhoods in the city and one of the safest. This community includes single-family homes and condos with outdoor recreation and an ideal, central location.

Reported crime over an entire year included:

    • 131 thefts (49% of crime)
    • 60 thefts from vehicles
    • 17 burglaries (1 residential)
    • 13 vehicle thefts
    • 12 aggravated assaults
    • 3 robberies


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A post shared by San Luis Ranch (@sanluisranchhomes)

Neighborhood #4 – Escuela Alta

This smaller neighborhood surrounds San Luis High School with established residential streets and convenient shopping. It’s just east of the Mill Street Historic District and downtown for entertainment and the French Hospital Medical Center is blocks away.

Reported crime over an entire year included:

      • 12 thefts (57% of crime)
      • 5 thefts from cars
      • 2 burglaries (1 residential)

Neighborhood #7 – The Arbors, Islay Hill & Terrace Hill Areas

This neighborhood includes the Islay Hill and Terrace Hill open spaces and the Arbors community, one of the most desirable new home communities in the city. Families love the area for its large lots, larger homes, and green space. Islay Park is one of SLO’s largest parks with playgrounds, a dog park, and hiking.

Reported crime over an entire year included:

      • 38 thefts
      • 22 thefts from cars
      • 17 burglaries (12 residential)
      • 13 aggravated assaults
      • 12 car thefts
      • 3 sexual assaults
      • 1 robbery

Neighborhood #11 – Santa Lucia Hills & Willowbrook II

Located along Broad Street south of the Railroad District is neighborhood #11, home to residential subdivisions Santa Lucia Hills and Willowbrook II. The neighborhood is popular with families thanks to its mature, quiet residential streets, commercial area with shopping at the Marigold Center mall, great parks, and the airport just around the corner.

Reported crime over an entire year included:

      • 41 thefts (50% of crime)
      • 19 thefts from cars
      • 3 car thefts
      • 2 aggravated assaults
      • 2 burglaries (1 residential)
      • 1 robbery

Neighborhood #12 – Southern San Luis Obispo

This fun neighborhood includes the SLO Public Market, the popular Tank Farm Rd & S Higuera St shopping district, and the Creekside Community mobile home park.

Reported crime over an entire year included:

      • 63 thefts (43% of crime)
      • 26 thefts from cars
      • 14 burglaries (5 residential)
      • 9 car thefts
      • 7 aggravated assaults
      • 3 robberies

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A post shared by San Luis Obispo Public Market (@slopublicmarket)

Neighborhood #1 – Bishops Peak Area

Theft accounted for almost 43% of crimes reported in the neighborhood over a year. There were only 2 aggravated assaults with 4 residential burglaries and 5 stolen cars. There were no sexual assaults or robberies reported.

This desirable and safe SLO neighborhood is an easy 10-minute walk from downtown and centered around Bishop Park Elementary School. It’s one of the most popular neighborhoods for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its walkability and nearby hiking at the Bishops Peak trail.

San Luis Obispo Country Club

Not classified as a neighborhood by the SLOPD, the San Luis Obispo Country Club neighborhood is the safest place to live in SLO. There was only one crime reported during an entire year: a theft.

Located outside the city limits but with an SLO address, the country club neighborhood is an affluent community with condos, single-family homes, and townhomes with fairway views.

High-Crime Areas of SLO

Like many California cities, the San Luis Obispo, CA crime rate is higher than the national average. However, SLO is a safe place to live as long as you are aware of the specific risks you face. The following neighborhoods have the most crime in San Luis Obispo.

Neighborhood #8 – Laguna Lake & Prefumo Canyon Area

Despite being one of San Luis Obispo’s most desirable neighborhoods, the Laguna Lake area also has more crime than average. This neighborhood, which includes the De Tolosa Ranch community and neighborhoods in the Madonna Mountain and Prefumo Canyon areas, had 18 stolen cars, 9 aggravated assaults, 7 residential burglaries, 3 sexual assaults, and 2 robberies in a single year.

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A post shared by SLO Parks & Rec (@sloparksandrec)

Neighborhood #2 – Mill Street Historic District & Surrounding Communities

Mill Street Historic District is the oldest SLO neighborhood with dozens of restaurants within walking distance and an easy downtown commute that makes it popular among young professionals. The neighborhood also includes Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and the Santa Rosa Park neighborhood.

In a single year, this neighborhood had 22 residential burglaries, 11 aggravated assaults, 3 sexual assaults, and 1 robbery.

Neighborhood #6 – Old Town Historic District & Railroad District

This neighborhood covers the northern section of Railroad District and the Old Town Historic District south of downtown and the Mill Street Historic District. The neighborhood is home to the popular Mitchell Park with horseshoe pits, barbecues, and a playground.

The Old Town area has a higher-than-average rate of violent crime. Over the course of a year, there were 27 aggravated assaults, 23 stolen cars, 12 residential break-ins, 7 robberies, and 1 sexual assault.

Neighborhood #5 – Downtown SLO

As the center of nightlife for the city, downtown SLO has a high crime rate like most downtown areas. In a single year, there were 101 thefts, 38 aggravated assaults, 15 stolen cars, 11 sexual assaults (more than any other neighborhood), and 9 robberies. The 172 alcohol-related offenses accounted for 33% of all reported crimes downtown.

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A post shared by Downtown SLO (@downtownslo)

Neighborhood #9 – Sunset Drive-In Area with Multiple Mobile Home Parks

The neighborhood surrounding the popular Sunset Drive-In is one of the most dangerous areas of SLO. This neighborhood is home to the city’s homeless services center and three mobile home parks including Chumash Village for seniors.

The neighborhood had 8 aggravated assaults, 7 car thefts, 4 robberies, 2 sexual assaults, and 1 homicide within a year.

Neighborhood #3 – Mar Vista & Banana Hill

Convenience sometimes comes at a price. This neighborhood includes the Banana Hill and Mar Vista neighborhoods within walking distance of Cal Poly and downtown SLO. There were 10 home break-ins, two sexual assaults, 11 stolen cars, and one robbery in the neighborhood in one year.

San Luis Obispo Police Department

The San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) serves the City of San Luis Obispo. The department has two bureaus – Operations and Administrative – each with a police captain. The Operations Bureau is made up of Neighborhood Outreach, the Traffic Safety Unit, and Patrol Services. The patrol division has a number of special assignments such as the Downtown Officer and Crime Scene Investigator.

Detective Luca Benedetti of the SLO Police Department was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 10, 2021.

The SLO PD keeps residents informed about unsafe situations and issues advisories through Nixle, a text platform and website.

Cal Poly Police Department

California Polytechnic State University has its own police department, the Cal Poly Police Department (CPPD), which handles more than 18,500 service calls every year. CPPD officers have full law enforcement and arrest powers and patrol the Cal Poly campus on foot, bike, and patrol car. The department serves a population of about 25,000 including more than 8,000 students in campus housing. That’s about half the population of San Luis Obispo.

Cal Poly police offer campus safety services including the Rave Guardian safety app. Provide anonymous reports, set safety timers for campus walks, and connect to 24-hour police services. The app can also be used to communicate directly with CPPD or request safety walk services from Mustang Patrol. Students, Cal Poly staff, and regular visitors can sign up for the free PolyAlert emergency notification system. Click here for the 2022 Cal Poly campus safety plan.

San Luis Obispo Crime Rate FAQ

What is the crime rate in San Luis Obispo?

The San Luis Obispo crime rate is 4,043 crimes per 100,000 people with 3,641 property crimes and 402 violent crimes per 100,000. The national average crime rate is 2,896 crimes per 100,000.

Is San Luis Obispo safe?

SLO is a safe place to live. The San Luis Obispo homicide rate is 0 murders per 100,000 and violent crime is uncommon. The downtown areas have higher-than-average crime that is avoidable with vigilance and basic precautions.

Is Cal Poly San Luis Obispo safe?

Cal Poly SLO is generally considered a safe campus with low rates of crime. In 2019, there were fewer than 9 incidents reported per 1,000 students.

Does life in SLO CAL sound perfect? After exploring the best neighborhoods in San Luis Obispo with low crime and choosing your new home, give the best San Luis Obispo moving company a call at Martian Movers for a seamless, easy move-in!


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