The Spanish colonized the valley in 1598, supplanting numerous indigenous tribes.
This region in the southwestern United States is known as the Four Corners area.
Home to beautiful mountains, National Forests, and the birthplace of Smokey, the Bear, New Mexico, is unfortunately ranked with the third-highest crime rate in the United States.
There are roughly 145 law enforcement agencies spread throughout the state.
While all reported crimes fell year over year, violent crime remains high at 778 – second only to Alaska with 838 incidents per 100 000 people.
Property crime of 31 incidents, primarily thefts, per 100,000 people is 1.5 times the national average of 19.
However, despite this updated data, New Mexico residents still have a 1 in 127 chance of encountering violent crime and a 1 in 32 probability of a property violation.
Luckily, the state’s murder statistics are declining, hovering just above the national average of 4.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
It is hard not to want to visit the Land of Enchantment, whether to visit the hot air balloon festival or shop for unique art in Santa Fe.
But it is always advisable to understand the risks and take precautions during your trip.
Crime can occur, day or night, in big cities or small, friendly towns.
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities in New Mexico
- 5 Safety Tips for Traveling to New Mexico
- New Mexico Safety Overview
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Most Dangerous Cities in New Mexico
Gallup is a moderately-sized town of 22,000 people that has ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in New Mexico for several years running.
This western town straddles famous Route 66 and is a center for outdoor beauty and adventure.
It is also renowned for its native culture, embracing the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes that are indigenous to the area.
Unfortunately, this small northwestern city in New Mexico now has the dubious honor of being one of the state’s worst places to live.
Depending on the data reviewed, Gallup is in the running with major metropolitan areas throughout the United States for criminal activity.
Gallup has 437 reported violent crimes, predominantly aggravated assault, or 1,992 per 100,000.
And 987 reported property crimes or 6,338 per 100,000.
Residents of Gallup have a 1 in 58 chance of being victimized by violence.
This is roughly two times the state average and four times the national average.
Property is in jeopardy once out of 23 – 1.5 times that of New Mexico.
Safety in Gallup involves being aware and exercising common sense day and night.
Belen is a small New Mexico town, just south of Albuquerque, of roughly 7,094 residents.
Unfortunately, the criminal activity here is approximately 190% higher than the United States average.
FBI data lists 2,029 violent crimes per 100,000 and 5,243 property crimes per 100,000.
These surprising statistics ensure that Belen remains the second most dangerous city in New Mexico year after year.
In fact, Belenites have a 1 in 52 chance of being a victim of murder, rape, or assault.
And a 1 in 20 probability of facing a property crime.
Belen, whose name is Spanish for Bethlehem, is part of the historic Rio Grande Valley along the state’s southern border but is not safe for solo travelers without significant precautions.
In 1881, Deming, located west of Las Cruces near the Mexico border, was a railroad and transportation hub on the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific lines.
Residents hoped it would be a thriving metropolis.
This hope led to the original nickname, “New Chicago.”
Unfortunately, while the population remained small, roughly 14,000 residents, criminal activity rivals its namesake.
Deming is one of the most dangerous cities in New Mexico – ranking in the top five for several years running.
Violent crime data reports 963 per 100,000, and residents will likely be victimized by 1 in 108 occurrences.
And with over 5,153 property crimes per 100,000, the crime ratio is a 1 in 19 chance – making it the fourth highest in property and violent crimes in the state.
While there is little traffic and the commute to work is less than 15 minutes cross-town, living in this New Mexico town is not without risks.
4. Los Lunas
Part of the Albuquerque Metroplex, Los Lunas is a rapidly growing town, divided east and west by Interstate 25 -15 miles south of the capital city.
Named after the founding Luna family, its population hovers around 16,000.
It is considered one of the wealthiest villages in the state.
Rapid growth is thought to be a factor in the city’s rising crime rates.
Reported property crimes have reached 4,074 per 100,000, and violent crimes, 1,286 per 100,000.
Los Lunas residents have a 1 in 24 chance of experiencing theft and a 1 in 78 probability of facing a violent crime.
College students of Eastern New Mexico University, yes; alien invaders, no.
Unfortunately, this charming, if not a bit space-obsessed town ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the state.
With a probability of 1 in 27, many of the 47,500 residents have come into contact with some form of petty theft.
Reported property crimes are 3,772 per 100,000.
Violent crimes sit at 1 in 121, or 849 per 100,000.
These crime statistics are both trending upward, getting worse by the year.
Clovis is a good news-bad news city.
This moderately sized town of roughly 39,000 residents was initially settled by indigenous peoples crossing the frozen Bering Strait following game trails.
It sits near the Texas border, and while it is a unique mix of people, it is also the seventh most dangerous city in New Mexico, with 673 violent and 3,805 property crimes per 100,000 people.
Clovis has been named an excellent place for singles – welcoming solo travelers.
But Clovis is also ranked in the state for the number of rapes and murders.
To the city’s credit, violent crime is falling due to community efforts and diligent policing.
North of Xarlsbad and east of Alamogordo, Artesia’s quaint main street, with an old-time cinema and trendy coffee houses, is deceptively quaint.
Taking its name from the area’s artesian aquifer, Artesia is one of the most dangerous cities for theft and one of the best places to live in the state.
While high in violent and property crime, the small town of 12,400 residents has significantly reduced violent crime.
Residents now have a 1 in 430 chance of encountering violence.
New Mexico compares at 1 in 127.
Property crime occurs with a 1 in 55 – safer than the state’s 1 in 32.
Reported crime is higher in the northern part of the city and lowest in the southeastern section.
If you are passing through Artesia, stay alert, but enjoy what the small New Mexico town offers.
8. Las Cruces
As the second largest metroplex in the state with a population of 113,000, this southern New Mexico city is a fun place to visit.
North of El Paso, Texas, it is home to New Mexico State University, numerous galleries, museums, and festivals.
It is a growing metropolis – ranking as a great place for singles and young professionals to live and work.
Unfortunately, the City of Crosses is also one of the state’s most dangerous towns.
Violent crimes are reported at 500 per 100,000 and property theft at 3,580 per 100,000.
This translates for residents as a 1 in 208 probability of encountering violence and a 1 in 28 chance of having property stolen.
Taos is a city of roughly 6,000 artists and creatives.
This unique northern New Mexico town is best known for silver from the Sangre de Cristos Mountains.
Unfortunately, the crime rates are significant enough to take precautions when visiting.
Violent crimes in the small village are dropping – 318 per 100,000 or 1 in 194.
This is safer than the New Mexico average of 1 in 127.
According to the FBI data banks, the driving force of crime statistics in Taos is property crime.
Property infarctions, 6,316 per 100,000, are 134% above the state average.
This translates to a 1 in 21 probability of having your belongings stolen or damaged – but this is still safer than the national average of 1 in 19.
Luckily for this spiritual town, overall rates have declined and will hopefully continue.
Bernalillo is nestled in the Sandia Mountains on the banks of the Rio Grande River, immediately north of Albuquerque.
It is known for its mountainous vineyards and Anasazi Trails.
But it is also one of New Mexico’s most dangerous cities.
Any one of the 10,400 residents can confirm that crime in the small town is trending upward, rising over the past few years.
Violent crimes have reached 821 per 100,000, with property violations at 2,240 per 100,000.
Downtown Bernalillo has the highest incidence of all crimes.
These statistics equate to a 1 in 125 probability of being violently victimized and a 1 in 45 chance of incurring property loss; safer than the state, but not by much.
If you are in town for the local wine festival, keep sight of your belongings and surroundings to ensure a safe visit.
5 Safety Tips for Traveling to New Mexico
- Lock your vehicle and hotel doors, and protect your camping gear.
- Situational awareness is critical. Know your surroundings at all times.
- Plan ahead. While it is good to be spontaneous when traveling, having a general knowledge of the area increases safety.
- Avoid public transportation.
- Stay in a group or well-lit area. Also, remember that crime can happen day or night, so be vigilant.
New Mexico Safety Overview
READ THE FULL REPORT: New Mexico Safety ReviewSafety Index:
- OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
- TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
- PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
- NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
- MUGGING RISK: LOW
- TERRORISM RISK: LOW
- SCAMS RISK: LOW
- WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Frequently Asked Questions
Is New Mexico fun to visit?
New Mexico is a popular state which welcomes nearly 40 million visitors annually.
The state is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground with breathtaking views, mountain hiking, national forests, and desert landscapes.
Small towns draw large crowds -from the alien cafes of Rosewell to the ionic White Sands.
It is also home to numerous indigenous tribes, influences, artistic communities, and festivals.
What is the "war zone" in Albuquerque?
The “war zone” along Route 66 in the southeastern part of Albuquerque is a significantly impoverished neighborhood with a high overall crime rate.
This area is so dangerous, in fact, that it was initially nicknamed the war zone.
Recently, to mitigate its reputation, the area was officially referred to as the International District.
What is the most common crime in New Mexico?
Aggravated assault, a crime where serious bodily injury is caused to another person, accounts for roughly 80% of all violent crimes in New Mexico.
This is almost 10% higher than the United States average of 70%.
Aggravated assault includes assault, assault with a deadly weapon, rape, murder, and robbery.