Ohio : Safety by City
- Cuyahoga Falls
- Port Clinton
- Yellow Springs
Defiance, Ohio, sounds like the type of place you’d want to avoid, but this northwestern Ohio city is one of the most friendly you’ll find in the region.
It was named after Fort Defiance, a military stronghold in the late 1700s during battles with Indigenous people.
The commander of the first made a powerfully defiant statement about his strategic goals, hence the name.
This city of 40,000 people offers some interesting activities and outdoor recreation options, despite still having a small-town feel.
In the early 2000s, a band named Defiance, Ohio grew in popularity, bringing even more attention to the odd name.
While the band is no longer together, the city is thriving.
Defiance is the kind of place where strangers will wave when you drive by, and you’re always greeted with a smile.
Among the things to do, it’s the local community events and festivals that truly define the city.
Visitors also get the bonus of being halfway between Toledo and Fort Wayne, Indiana, expanding the travel footprint potential.
Warnings & Dangers in Defiance
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Defiance has a low risk, with crime rates well below national and state averages. You can almost get a false sense of safety here with the low risk, but you know always to use standard safety measures, right?
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
No public transportation system is available with fixed-route service in Defiance. A rental car is the best option since you'll need to drive to Defiance anyway from a nearby airport. Taxis and rideshares might not be as robust as in bigger cities but are available.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Over the past five years, no pickpockets or purse snatchings were reported in Defiance. That gives it a low risk and good motivation to keep it low by limiting what you carry to the bare necessities.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This medium risk is prompted by the severe or dangerous weather that can happen throughout the year. All risks here come with forecasts, watches, and warnings, but it's important you have the tools to stay informed. Spring and summer face severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes. Winter brings blizzards, ice storms, snow storms, and potentially dangerously cold weather.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The city hasn't seen more than five robberies in a year going back to 2015, and since then, only two were highway robberies. This is a definite low risk.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is another low risk with no reason to suspect there's an international terrorism plot in this remote and small town. Gun violence and domestic terrorism can happen in any U.S. city, so there's no way to prepare for that other than to report anything suspicious you see to local police.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Here's another low risk most scams reported being run-of-the-mill targeted locals. Things like IRS scams, law enforcement spoofed phone numbers, and demands for money from fake utility companies are the most common.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women enjoy the same low risk as anyone else. It's a fine town for solo travelers, families, or girlfriend getaways. Just use basic personal safety steps as you would anywhere.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance with just one minor violation that was a result of the water cleaning process. You can read that report on the city's website. The U.S. has strict water quality standards as part of the Safe Water Drinking Act, meaning you should never be too afraid to use tap water in the majority of cities.
Safest Places to Visit in Defiance
VisitDefianceOhio.com is the tourism website for the city, with a welcoming message of “Where Friends, Families, and Rivers Meet.”
The website does include information about Downtown Defiance, including a downloadable map and the boundaries of the “Defiance Outdoor Refreshment Area” (DORA), where those 21 and older can carry adult beverages around.
Defiance is a city best broken into activities instead of places to visit; as it seems on the surface there isn’t a lot to do.
I hope breaking it down this way helps you plan your Defiance Itinerary.
First, let’s start with parks and rivers.
There are three rivers in this area, the Maumee River, the Auglaize River, and the Tiffin River (aka Bean Creek Scenic River).
The Maumee River is along a scenic drive and is rated as one of the best routes for scenic motorcycle rides between Defiance and Napoleon.
Boating is also popular here.
A sunset walk along the river is another great way to end a day.
Independence Dam State Park on the Maumee River offers hiking, fishing, or picnicking with a picturesque backdrop.
The Tiffin River is a great spot for kayakers of all skill levels and is surrounded by hiking trails.
Boating is popular on the Maumee, but kayaking is also permitted.
You also have plenty of historic places to explore here.
Dive into local history by visiting the Andrew L. Tuttle Memorial Museum.
It houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits, including an extensive display of Native American artifacts.
A must-see location is Fort Defiance.
This War of 1812 fortification offers a window into the past, with well-preserved earthworks and historical markers.
You’ll learn firsthand about the “defiance” that led to the name of the fort, city, and county.
AuGlaize Village is a place where you can step back in time.
The living history museum showcases historic buildings and artifacts, providing a glimpse into the area’s past through a handful of museums and nearly 100 acres to explore.
Defiance has three historic districts with stunning architecture and canals once used to carry supplies across the region.
You can download self-guided walking tour maps.
If you’re looking to experience the local performing arts scene, check the schedule at the Huber Opera House and Civic Center and the Stroede Center for the Arts.
Places to Avoid in Defiance
Defiance is a safe area with no neighborhoods to avoid or parts of town too dangerous to visit.
Even with a safe city, it’s still smart to stick to highways and main roads instead of cutting through neighborhoods.
I say it half-jokingly, but this is the type of town where a stranger driving through a neighborhood repeatedly could cause neighbors to report suspicious activity.
If you’re visiting when a winter storm is approaching, be sure to stock up on everything you would need to be snowed in for a few days.
That includes food you can eat without the use of electricity, a gallon of water per person per day, and extra blankets in case the power goes out.
When roads are treacherous, there aren’t many nearby towns for shopping and supplies.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Defiance
- Defiance does have its own police department. You can find them on Facebook, but be sure you’re looking at the police department for the city and not the country sheriff. Both are helpful links, but the sheriff’s office comes up in most search results first. You can call (419) 784-5050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with specific safety questions.
- The police department’s website has a list of safety tips with more than a dozen categories. It’s worth taking a few minutes to review before your trip to Defiance.
- Stay informed about emergency alerts for public safety hazards and severe weather by signing up for Hyper-Reach notifications. You can also subscribe to the Alert Center on the city’s website and choose which categories are most important. For example, you don’t need City Council agendas, but you likely want local weather alerts.
- Golf carts are allowed on the Defiance streets, provided the speed limit is 25 miles per hour or less. It’s important to know this since you’ll be sharing the road with these “Low-Speed Vehicles” that must follow all the same rules of the road as you do in a vehicle.
- When snow is in the forecast, the city might issue a Snow Emergency. It sounds worse than it is – that just means that street parking will be banned until the snow plows can clear the roads. If you do park on the street during a Snow Emergency, you could be ticketed or towed. Worse? A snow plow might sideswipe your car.
- Defiance County is a popular spot for hunting and fishing. Anglers need a license from the Ohio Department of Fish & Game. It’s an easy license to get. Hunting licenses require more training and safety certification. Closely read the guidebook to see what you need to do before your trip to be able to hunt.
- If you happen to lock your cars in your vehicle or lose your keys, the police department does offer lockout assistance. I can usually tell how safe a town is by this single fact alone. Most departments don’t have the resources or time for this since they’re investigating more crimes. From what I can tell, Defiance has about 70-80 vehicle lockouts each month.
- If you come across potholes in the road or broken streetlights, the city would appreciate you taking the time to fill out a report. It’s an easy online form that just states where the problem is and any helpful information you can provide.
- It’s important to know the difference between a weather advisory, watch, or warning. An advisory might be issued when winter weather is approaching. It’s just to let you know, “Hey, it *might snow/sleet.” A watch means conditions are favorable for a weather event, like a Winter Storm Watch or a Tornado Watch. When a warning is issued it means the weather event is imminent or happening. For example, a Tornado Warning should prompt you to seek shelter immediately. A Winter Storm Warning means you should stay put until the weather event passes and roads are cleared.
- Follow traffic and weather conditions across the region using Ohgo. It’s a website and app with real-time travel information, live cameras across the state, and construction zone details. You can create an account and set up your own routes to get alerts ahead of time.
So... How Safe Is Defiance Really?
Defiance hasn’t been unsafe since the 1800s, probably.
With such a foreboding name, you really get more of a “Pleasantville” vibe here.
The violent crime rate is 60-70% lower than state and national averages.
Just 2% of violent crimes over the past five years have involved strangers.
The only red flag is that violent crimes have gone up 42% since 2012, which is a trend that could be a problem if it continues for another couple of decades.
However, it’s nothing to be alarmed about when considering a trip to Defiance, Ohio.
Even theft rates at 67% lower than the national average and have also dropped 65% locally since 2012.
Shoplifting is one of the top theft categories.
Even car break-ins are just 10% of all thefts over the past five years, and most of those are due to cars being left unlocked or with the keys inside.
Most cities I research have an average of car break-ins at 30% of the theft rate.
Even car thefts are lower than most averages, with less than one per month being stolen.
That’s also at a time when car thefts are growing statewide in Ohio.
You’re really visiting a safe community here, though some might find it a bit boring once you’ve crossed Fort Defiance off your itinerary.
Most people who live here will go to Toledo for more activities and attractions.
Since it’s less than an hour away, it’s also a great idea for you to fold that into your trip.
You can read our article in the link above to learn more about “How Safe Is Toledo for Travel?”
How Does Defiance Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
A visa or visa waiver is necessary for international visitors to enter the country. The U.S. State Department website is your go-to resource for determining your eligibility for a visa waiver. You can also use the Visa Wizard module on their site for assistance.
Only the U.S. Dollar will be accepted here. You can exchange currency at most international airports but also check ahead of time. Your home bank or any bank where you are a member can also help you with that task. Using credit cards is preferred due to the extensive fraud protection.
Plan for four seasons and pack accordingly. Winters are cold, requiring accessories and a thick coat most of the season. Temperatures in spring and fall can be all over the place. Packing different layers of clothing helps. Summers will be hot and humid. Bring bug spray for outdoor activities.
Toledo Express Airport is less than an hour away, but I'd recommend taking an extra hour to travel to Detroit Wayne County Airport for a more extensive list of destinations.
When booking trips where weather could impact your itinerary, purchasing travel insurance is advised. Additionally, if your health insurance is only valid in your home country, look into supplemental medical coverage in the U.S. Also, confirm your rental car policy covers liability in the event of a collision or roadside assistance need.
Defiance Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Ohio - Safety by City