Delaware : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Delaware - state review
Dover, Delaware, is the capital city of the First State, with more than 340 years of history in its boundaries.
Delaware is known as the First State because it was the first to ratify the Constitution right on “The Green,” which still welcomes guests today.
Dover offers such a balanced mix of history, museums, culture, art, and outdoors that it’s a great central location if you want to visit a city as much as get sand in your toes at Delaware’s famous beaches.
It’s also home to Dover Air Force Base, a prominent location in the U.S. military, and also where fallen and injured soldiers are brought home.
You’ll also find a NASCAR track here where big races and the annual Firefly Festival bring out large crowds.
There’s a casino surrounded by all the Delaware tax-free shopping you can afford.
Despite all those things to do, you might find it hard to believe that Dover has an Amish community on the far west side of town.
This is one city that truly has a little bit of everything, making it an ideal location for family trips.
Warnings & Dangers in Dover
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Dover due to the high and increasing violent crime rates. While that shouldn't be a deterrent, it's worth noting that this is a smaller town with big-city crime.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
DART is the public bus system here. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find. Rental cars are a great way to explore all the way to the beach and back. All options come with a low risk as long as you use standard safety precautions.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk. About 20 pickpockets or purse snatchings happen each year. Theft rates are 250% higher than the national average.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Dover can get hit by severe weather from all directions. Hurricane season runs from June through November, and Dover saw an EF-2 tornado spawned by one of those hurricanes in 2020. Winter weather can bring snow and bitterly cold temperatures. Spring and summer thunderstorms pose risks to outdoor activities. Nor'easters can happen any time between October and May.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Robbery is down 300% since 2011, which is an odd juxtaposition to the increase in literally almost every other crime category. While there's statistically a low risk, watch your back.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
With Dover AFB being so close, it's a medium risk. However, that means there's likely not a safer place to be due to all the security at the base and in Dover. If terrorists could find a way to get to Dover, they surely would.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Most scams here are targeted at locals, but you do need to watch out for panhandlers and homeless people. You can always check the Delaware Attorney General's website to see the trending scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women just need to use the same safety steps as if they were visiting a big city like Philadelphia. There's no additional risk to women unless they give an appearance of an easy mark.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations, giving it a low risk. You should still check social media sites for the city, as issues related to storms or frozen pipes won't show up in the water quality report.
Safest Places to Visit in Dover
Visit Delaware and Visit Delaware Villages are two websites that can give you the best information about the popular places to visit in safe areas.
The village’s website will cover Dover, Smyrna, and Milford.
Despite some of the tough safety topics we’re addressing, there is truly a charming, romantic, exciting, and adventurous list of things to do in Dover.
Two of the big attractions are the Dover International Speedway.
NASCAR events will bring large crowds to town.
The Dover Downs Hotel & Casino brings Las Vegas-style gambling and excitement to central Delaware.
In the center of Dover, the Dover Green is the center point of activity.
There’s a Welcome Center at 122 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where you check out the newest activities and local events.
The First State Heritage Park is a state park that offers tours of historic sites, living history tours, and even lantern tours after dark.
“Oriented around the Dover Green, where Revolutionary soldiers marched, the US Constitution was ratified, Freedom Seekers escaped slavery, and crusading suffragists expanded equality, there is so much to discover in this historic half-acre!”
Nearby you’ll find the Old State House, Legislative Hall, the Biggs Museum of Art, and the Johnson Victrola Museum.
Other museums in Dover include:
- Delaware State Police Museum
- Delaware Agricultural Museum
- Air Mobility Command Museum
- John Dickinson Plantation
If you want to head to the beach, take the long drive to the ones open to tourists.
Most options closest to Dover are in private neighborhoods or in remote areas:
- Lewes Beach (40 miles): A charming, quiet, laid-back beach town with history and serenity.
- Rehoboth Beach (44 miles): A vibrant, but not wild, beach community with a boardwalk, amusement park, and fine stretches of sandy beach.
- Bethany Beach (55 miles): A great family-friendly or large group destination with shops, a boardwalk, and more surf.
- South Bethany Beach (57 miles): A more secluded and remote stretch of shoreline.
- Fenwick Island (50 miles): More of a barrier island than an actual island, this beach is near the state line and closest to Ocean City, Maryland.
Closer to Dover, outdoor enthusiasts can visit the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, with a salt marsh mixed with wetlands and uplands.
Places to Avoid in Dover
The highest crime areas are in the center of town and downtown, which isn’t surprising since it’s where most people are.
If you want to avoid the highest crime areas, stay north of Forest Street, Division Street, and White Oak Road.
Also, stay west of Saulsbury Road and North of Walker Avenue.
You can also feel safe going to and from the top tourist destinations using the main roads.
The risk can happen if you’re haphazardly driving around looking for something to do.
Delaware also has a drug problem, like many other states.
You should never take a pill or drug from anyone, even if they claim it’s a prescription drug.
These can be laced with deadly doses of fentanyl.
Even if someone offers you an aspirin, just say no.
If you’re visiting the Air Mobility Command Museum near Dover AFB, do NOT try to go through the entrance at Dover.
There’s a separate entrance that is open to the public.
Only those with a DOD ID card can get on the base, and if you don’t know what that is, you certainly won’t be able to get one.
Don’t be misled by the name “Bennet’s Pier Beach.”
There are no amenities here and, oddly, no pier.
This is a great place for fishing, but you’re in a remote area if something goes wrong or you get stuck in the sand as the road ends at the sand with no barrier.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Dover
- Dover does have its own police department. You can find them on Facebook @DoverPD. They are on Twitter and Instagram @DoverDEPolice. The non-emergency number is (302)736-7111. It would be wise to call or stop by to see where the crime hot spots are during your visit. Those can always change with new crime trends.
- The police department also offers an interactive crime map where you search for the most recent crime reports by location. For example, you might want to know how car break-ins have happened within a mile of your hotel.
- If you’re using DART to get around, you have four apps you can download. DART Transit helps you plan the trip. DART Pass allows you to pay for tickets through the app. DART Connect is an on-demand service. Look Up Speak Up is an app to report crime and safety issues on DART buses.
- Dover was working on a new downtown parking plan as of late 2022, but nothing was set in stone. You should check the Downtown Dover Partnership website to see if any apps or updated parking rules have been implemented. Parking is free after 5:00 pm on weeknights and all day on weekends.
- You can get a Capital Key card that will allow you to get discounts at some popular businesses. The card is free and available by visiting the DPP office or calling (302)678-2940.
- Delaware has been hit hard by the popular TikTok trend showing people how to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles. If you are renting one of these cars, you can get a new update just released in May 2023. Hyundai drivers call 1-800-633-5151. Kia drivers call 800-333-4542.
- DuPont Highway goes right through Dover, and it’s a traffic nightmare most of the day and evening. I don’t really have any other advice other than to be patient and don’t engage in road rage. It’s just one of those bottlenecks common on the East Coast.
- You can take the toll highway, which is Route 1. Most rental cars should come with an EZ Pass to get through the toll booths, but you can also purchase your own passes.
- Dover can get poor air quality from neighboring states. You should check the air quality forecast through your favorite weather app or check the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware website.
- Fishing requires a license in Delaware, which you can get from local vendors or through the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Council.
So... How Safe Is Dover Really?
Statistically, Dover isn’t that safe.
With a violent crime rate nearing three times the national average while still trending upward each year since 2017, there’s a lot of work to do in the Capital City.
“The overwhelming majority of our shooting incidents can be traced back to the illicit drug trade and/or gang/group-related activity.
This is not only true in 2022 but in past years, as well,” said police spokesperson Sgt. Mark Hoffman said.
While there’s a certain “Don’t go looking for trouble, and you won’t find it” concept at work, it’s also worth noting that 25% of violent crimes happen against strangers.
One shooting involved a woman just out walking her dog, hit by a stray bullet.
Another involved robbery in a parking lot where a man was dealing with car trouble.
During a month span in 2022, there were nine shootings in Dover.
Sure, any big city is going to have crime like this.
But this isn’t a big city.
It’s a town of 40,000 people.
One in five lives in poverty here.
The average income is $20,000 lower than the state average.
Shoplifting is by far the biggest theft problem here, with 43% of all 2021 thefts falling into that category.
Don’t interrupt or confront shoplifters.
Nationwide, it’s a huge trend and becomes more violent as people and/or police try to stop them.
Living in Dover comes with a lot more risks than visiting Dover, but hopefully, you’re a little better prepared for a safe trip in a place with a lot of great places to explore.
How Does Dover Compare?
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Check your status to be eligible for a visa waiver for the U.S. State Department. If you're not, the visa process can take weeks or months. You also need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Limit cash and use credit cards as much as possible. If you need to use an ATM, go inside a bank. Don't use one in public, especially at night.
Plan for a versatile four seasons. You might want to grab some beach clothes for the summer since the Delaware beaches are close enough and downright stunning. A rain jacket and rain boots are smart. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water shoes if your plans include boating or swimming.
Within 100 miles, you have ILG in Wilmington (limited flights), Philadelphia International, and Reagan National in Washington, D.C.
Travel insurance is smart, but make sure you get coverage for "acts of nature" like hurricanes or nor'easters that can shut down the city and leave you stranded. Even major storms in the West can lead to a ripple effect of flight delays and cancelations.
Dover Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Delaware - Safety by City