Is Gastonia Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On September 13, 2023
Gastonia, United States
Safety Index:
61
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
100
* Rated 100 / 100 based on 1 user reviews.

Gastonia, North Carolina, is a town of 80,000 people west of Charlotte and quickly growing to be considered one of the suburbs.

Gastonia’s history is a tapestry of progress and resilience.

Originally settled in the early 19th century, it thrived as a cotton mill town, contributing significantly to the textile industry’s growth in the South.

Over the years, Gastonia evolved into a thriving community, maintaining its commitment to preserving its historical roots.

For nature enthusiasts, Gastonia offers Crowders Mountain State Park nearby scenic hiking trails and breathtaking vistas from the summit, and it’s a rock climbing paradise.

This is also the hometown of Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst.

He said in an interview, “That was my coming of age, right there in Gastonia.

It’s unbelievable how much of that town I covered by foot.”

As fond as his memories are, he admits that the bullying he was subjected to was part of his motivation to form Limp Bizkit.

Unfortunately, since then, bullies and criminals have gotten worse in this North Carolina town.

We’re going to talk through the safest places to visit in this article, but please read all the safety advice.

There’s a lot more crime than you might expect.

Warnings & Dangers in Gastonia

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

There's a medium risk here due to high (and growing) crime rates coupled with not a lot of tourist activities that make the risk worth it. This is especially true for those who aren't used to "big city crime."

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Gastonia Transit is a robust transportation system that covers most main roads in the city. It also has express routes. Finding taxis and rideshares shouldn't be a problem. You can also control your own itinerary with a rental car. All options are a low risk.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

This is a medium risk, with an average of 18 pickpockets or purse snatchings happening each year over the past five years. Most of those were purse snatchings.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

This is another medium risk with the potential for severe, winter, or disruptive weather throughout the year. It's just important that you stay weather-aware in case of incoming severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, winter weather, or localized flooding.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM

The robbery rate is 85% higher than the national average, but just 15% of those happened on streets and sidewalks. The risk is still medium because of the high crime rate, so use caution and stick to well-lit, secure areas.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

There's a low risk here, being such a small town, though Charlotte could be a higher risk. You can always read the latest Terrorism Advisory Bulletin from Homeland Security to get a better idea of risks and safety steps. Gastonia Police also ask that you "See Something. Say Something." by calling (704)866-6937.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

I noticed several Facebook scams for rental homes, so review rental scam signs on the local police website. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau for other types of trending scams. You can keep the risk low by being informed.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women should use a lot of caution here, especially at night. Travel in groups or pairs and use street smarts. If you feel at all uncomfortable in any location, leave. It's much safer to stick to the outer edges of the community.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2022 Water Quality Report from Two River Utilities details all the potential contaminants tested in the water. The city got passing grades and no violations. That's a low risk.

Safest Places to Visit in Gastonia

GoGastonNC.org is the tourism website for Gaston County, and Gastonia is the largest city in the county.

There isn’t a website just for Gastonia, but you can find “Things to Do” on the city’s website.

For the larger Charlotte area, find the “Charlotte’s Got a Lot” website.

One of the must-visit spots is the Schiele Museum of Natural History, a captivating destination for history enthusiasts.

This educational institution showcases exhibits on regional history, science, and culture.

Visitors can explore interactive displays, including a planetarium and a replica Catawba Native Village.

Gastonia also boasts a vibrant arts scene and the Gaston County Museum is a testament to this.

Housed in a historic courthouse, it offers insight into the area’s rich heritage.

Artifacts, photographs, and rotating exhibitions provide a glimpse into Gaston County’s past.

You can also check for local events on the Downtown Gastonia Facebook page @VisitDowntownGastonia.

This will help you find safe, local groups of people for a variety of activities.

If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, Crowders Mountain State Park is a gem.

It offers hiking trails suitable for various skill levels, with breathtaking panoramic views from the summit.

Don’t forget to pack a picnic and enjoy the scenic vistas.

Foodies will find plenty to savor in Gastonia.

The city boasts a diverse culinary scene, with numerous restaurants serving up delicious Southern cuisine.

Be sure to try the North Carolina iterations of barbecue.

And remember, in the South, if you order iced tea, you’ll get sweet tea unless you specify otherwise.

Nearby Belmont is home to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, a serene oasis featuring meticulously manicured gardens, walking trails, and stunning fountains.

Places to Avoid in Gastonia

Gastonia’s bad neighborhoods stretch a wide path through all corners of the town, and even the mall has been the scene of a shooting.

When you visit Gastonia, you’ll be able to tell if you’re in a bad part of town.

The area will be rundown and blighted and have homeless people in parks and on sidewalks.

Unfortunately, we can only recommend you use extra caution everywhere in Gastonia and stick to the main tourist attractions.

If you’re from a big city with high crime rates, you’ll scoff at this notion.

And that’s okay.

I’m from a big city myself and wouldn’t hesitate to go to Gastonia if I had a reason to be there.

I also know how to stay away from trouble and use the utmost protection for my personal safety.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Gastonia

  1. Gastonia has its own police department. You can find them on Facebook @GastoniaPoliceDepartment. The phone number is (704) 866-6702, and the email is GastoniaPDSocialMedia@cityofgastonia.com if you want to ask specific safety questions.
  2. Gastonia Police have a Community Crime Map, which is an interactive map of all recent crimes. You can choose your own search parameters, like looking for car break-ins within a half mile of your chosen hotel in the past month.
  3. Sign up for emergency alerts in Gaston County through Everbridge. This will include severe weather emergency information and other local safety hazards. The program is free, and you can easily unsubscribe when you’re done.
  4. DriveNC.gov is the best traffic website for plotting a path around Gastonia or the region. You’ll get live cameras, real-time traffic alerts, and construction information. Create an account and set up route-specific alerts for yourself.
  5. I’ve talked to dozens, if not hundreds, of police officers in my years of investigative journalism. Every one of them tells me the same thing about car break-ins – it’s the biggest nuisance crime caused by people not locking cars, leaving keys in the car, or leaving valuables in plain sight. Taking those street avoidance steps will dramatically lower your risk of being a victim.
  6. If you are a victim of a car break-in or lost your purse/wallet, you can file a report online without having to visit the police station or have an officer come to you.
  7. Gastonia has free parking throughout downtown. You can visit the city’s website and download a map to find the exact locations.
  8. A fishing license for inland waters is required in North Carolina. Purchase that online at Go Outdoors North Carolina’s website. You’ll also find hunting and boating requirements there too.
  9. If you are using any of Gastonia Greenway Trails, don’t get a false sense of safety. If you wear headphones, keep one ear open to stay aware of your surroundings. Avoid the trails at night.
  10. Please help keep the street repairs going by reporting any potholes you come across. Don’t assume someone else has already done so. There’s an easy form on the city’s website where you can detail the location of the pothole.

So... How Safe Is Gastonia Really?

Gastonia has a crime problem fueled by poverty, homelessness, and drugs.

Even at a time when this Charlotte suburb is growing, the crime rate is increasing much faster than the population.

Between 2011 and 2021, violent crime surged 52%.

Looking at the most recent crime data, there’s some context that is important.

Just 15% of violent crimes were against strangers over the past five years.

In 2021, nearly half of violent crimes happened in private homes.

Theft is 115% higher than the national average, and 27% of those are car break-ins or accessory thefts.

Shoplifting is the biggest theft category.

A growing national trend turns shoplifting into a public nuisance and potentially puts people in harm’s way when masses of shoplifters target a store.

There are also the sad headlines of 6, 14 and 17-year-olds being shot, on top of a list of odd crimes, including a man beaten with a toilet seat lid.

While crimes might be limited to a few troublesome neighborhoods, crime mapping shows a wide swath of the city that has high crime rates.

While it’s easy to say if you don’t go looking for trouble, you won’t find it, you also aren’t doing yourself any favors by staying in Gastonia as a cheaper alternative to Charlotte.

The traffic between the two is problematic in itself.

If you have a specific reason to be in Gastonia, please just use an abundance of caution as you would in a large city.

For those looking for a safer alternative to the Charlotte Metro Area, consider Belmont.

How Does Gastonia Compare?

CitySafety Index
Gastonia61
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International visitors need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring and a visa or visa waiver. Determine your eligibility by using the Visa Wizard on the U.S. State Department website.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here, and we strongly recommend you don't walk around with a lot of cash here. Use credit cards as much as possible for fraud prevention. You can exchange currency at CLT airport.

Weather

Weather

Packing is by the season, but always bring a few extra layers as temperature swings can happen throughout the year. You won't need full winter attire most of the time. For spring through fall, bring bug spray, especially if you plan to spend time in nature.

Airports

Airports

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is less than 30 minutes away (but check traffic conditions before you go), and it's a major airport hub.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Anytime you take a trip where weather could potentially interfere with flights or driving, we highly recommend getting travel insurance. Don't forget to look into health insurance too if you won't already be covered at your destination. Also, double-check the insurance on your rental car, so you're prepared in the event of a crash.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Gastonia Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 6° C
Feb 8° C
Mar 11° C
Apr 16° C
May 21° C
Jun 24° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 26° C
Sep 23° C
Oct 17° C
Nov 11° C
Dec 7° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
111418232730323128231713
Low
°C
114914182120171041
High
°F
525764738186908882736355
Low
°F
343439485764706863503934

North Carolina - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Apex84
Asheville57
Boone82
Cary83
Chapel Hill81
Charlotte56
Cornelius75
Corolla81
Davidson82
Duck79
Durham84
Elizabeth City79
Gastonia61
Goldsboro46
Greensboro77
Hatteras82
Hickory68
High Point62
Hope Mills53
Kannapolis82
Kill Devil Hills77
Kitty Hawk79
Manteo75
Mooresville77
Morehead City78
New Bern77
Raleigh74
Rocky Mount52
Rodanthe85
Statesville78
Wilmington84
Winston-Salem47

Where to Next?

1 Review on Gastonia

  1. V
    Vincent Smith says:

    Quite safe!

    I live in Gastonia, and it’s generally a safe place for both residents and visitors. Like any city, there are areas to avoid, but the downtown area and many neighborhoods are quite safe.

Gastonia Rated 5 / 5 based on 1 user reviews.

Share Your Experience

Share
Facebook Pinterest Review
1