Nebraska : Safety by City
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Gretna, Nebraska, is a sleepy bedroom community on the southwest fringe of the Omaha metro area.
In fact, you might even drive right by it aside from one major attraction—Nebraska Crossing Outlet Mall.
However, this community is waking up and growing with the intent to keep the sense of community while expanding in all the right ways.
“We’ll start releasing more and more (plans),” Mayor Mike Evans said to local station KMTV.
“But we are intentionally developing our community the way we want it to be instead of the way developers are going to want to do it.”
Gretna is a place where Friday night football is a way of life, and you wave when you pass on the street.
It picks up good interstate traffic from savvy shoppers looking for a deal.
Even the outlet mall is growing, with major retailer REI setting up shop recently.
You won’t find any hotels in Gretna for the time being, but as it expands, more will be built.
There are plenty of options in nearby La Vista.
Gretna is a great place to visit with the small-town feel while still being close to the big-city amenities in Omaha.
Warnings & Dangers in Gretna
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Gretna has a low risk, as surrounding Sarpy County is one of the safest counties in a metro area statewide.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The Omaha Metro Transit system doesn't come as far as Gretna, but that could change in the future. Taxis and rideshare are easy to find, and rental cars are available throughout Omaha and at the airport.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, but use extra caution at the outlet mall. Since crime data come from Sapry County, we had to dig a little more into the crime mapping technology to see what percentage of thefts were happening in Gretna. It's by far the safest part of Sarpy County but not safe enough to let your guard down or leave cars unlocked or bags unattended.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This region is a medium risk due to the unstable nature of the weather, which can change quickly. Winter storms can be nasty, severe weather in spring can spawn tornadoes, wicked winds sweep across the Plains, wildfires can cause damage and hurt air quality, and flooding is always a concern along the Platte River.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is a particularly low risk, with crime statistics showing thieves would rather break into your car than take your stuff by force. There's also a lack of opportunity here without a downtown area in Gretna or a place where you'd be prone to being out alone at night.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
As part of a larger metro area, we give it a medium risk. That's mostly to have you be aware of the latest Terrorism Advisory from Homeland Security. The presence of Offutt Air Force Base nearby will lead to more military planes in the sky, especially the ones that fly back and forth from Lincoln. That said—there's no reason to have terrorism concerns in Gretna.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk of scams here for a tourist, as most are focused on common residential scams. You might run into some panhandlers or fast-talking kiosk salespeople at the mall, but it's nothing a firm "No" can't overcome.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
I am a woman who lives in Lincoln and actually prefers to drive through Gretna to get to Omaha for better traffic and scenic views. I've never felt a slight bit uncomfortable here, day or night.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. You'll want to follow the city and county social media sites to check for issues like hydrant flushing or water main breaks, which can impact water usage.
Safest Places to Visit in Gretna
GoSarpy.com is the tourism site for all the cities in the county, including Gretna, but you’ll likely need to leave the city to find more things to do outside the outlet mall.
The city website also has a section on Area Attractions to review.
Visit Omaha is the name of the website for the entire metro area.
Nebraska Crossing is the main attraction here, and it’s right off the interstate with plenty of free parking.
The parking lot is well-lit, and a mall is an open-air place with plenty of lighting and security guards.
You’ll find a handful of restaurants here too.
Try to condense your bags as you shop so you don’t have to run to the car and store them in the trunk.
You don’t want thieves to see a stash put away.
Schramm Park State Recreation Area is six miles south of the interstate but still in the expanding city limits of Gretna.
This park has hiking and biking trails, along with a water trail for those who want to ride the Platte River.
Fishing is popular here, and birding fans come out in droves during spring migration.
The Schramm Education Center is also located at the park, but you might find it listed as the Akserben Aquarium on outdated travel sites.
It was expanded and renovated in 2019, with the name change being the least exciting option.
This is a hands-on exhibit of Nebraska waterways and wildlife.
Follow the education center on social media to find the latest activities planned during your visit.
If you head about 15 minutes west on the interstate, you can get to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.
In addition to exhibits about military jets, space travel, and war history, the new “Above and Beyond” exhibit brings you into the virtual world of being a Top Gun pilot.
You can even travel to “space” during this experience.
Fall visitors will be overwhelmed by the number of pumpkin patches in Nebraska, and Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard is one of the premier destinations.
These places go beyond a hayride to pick a pumpkin.
It’s a surreal Disneyland of fall harvest activities from haunted houses to farm animal interactions to massive slides to custom corn mazes.
Tubing and Adventures is a company that can make your water dreams come true, and with the humid summer days in Nebraska, you’ll welcome the refreshing activity.
Tubing, kayaking, and camping are all available.
Places to Avoid in Gretna
Gretna doesn’t have bad parts of town or dangerous neighborhoods.
In fact, it’s one place I’d feel safe stopping and asking for directions.
I will admit there are a lot of speed limit changes on the major roadways as you get closer to the populated areas, and I’ve never driven through Gretna without seeing at least two law enforcement cars running radar.
Stick to the speed limit.
Here’s an insider piece of advice from a shopper who has been to Nebraska Crossing more times than I’d like to admit to my accountant—when leaving the outlet mall if you’re trying to get back on the interstate, use Nebraska Crossing Drive.
Do not use Melia Drive.
You can’t turn left at Melia, and you’ll be forced to make a U-Turn at the next stoplight.
Since many other people are going through this, you’ll end up waiting through cycles of stoplights to take the turn.
If you use Nebraska Crossing Drive, you’ll get a left turn signal to get back to I-80.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Gretna
- Gretna does have a police department section on its website, but it will send you to the Sarpy County Law Enforcement Division. You’ll find all the right contact information there, so both websites are worth visiting. You can also follow them on Facebook @SarpyCountySheriff.
- Bookmark the Sarpy County TIPS website to report criminal or suspicious activity. This is not a replacement for urgent 911 crimes, but it’s a great place to report vandalism, drug activity, or reckless drivers. You can also crime Crime Stoppers and remain anonymous at (402)592-STOP (7867).
- Sign up for Sarpy County Alerts to get emergency weather, criminal, and civil information. There’s an Alert Sense app that connects to the emergency management system. You can’t afford to miss critical weather information here.
- Tornado sirens are tested on the first Monday of every month at 11:00 am. If you hear a long droning sound, that’s a tornado siren. The sirens get tested to confirm they are working in case of an actual tornado. If you hear a tornado siren during any other time of the month, seek shelter immediately.
- Sapry County has a great interactive crime mapping website that covers all the nearby cities of the county. You can search within certain timeframes and by type of crime. I found it very useful when putting together this article since the only official data I have was from 2021.
- Fall is the harvest season in Nebraska, and spring is the planting season. You’ll likely run into tractors, combines, or bulldozers on the major roadways. They’ll be going slow and taking up more than one lane of traffic. That’s just part of life in Nebraska. Pass when it’s safe to do so, and be patient. With farming being our livelihood here, we give lots of latitude for this minor inconvenience.
- Use 511 Nebraska to check road conditions at any time. The app is great, and I use it often. It has live cameras to see road conditions where you’re going or to watch a storm approaching. You’ll see color-coded road markings to see if a road is dry, wet, or snow-covered. You can also check for construction zones, road closures, and traffic backups.
- Anglers need a fishing license in Nebraska. Use the Nebraska Outdoors app for all your outdoor needs here. It’s a great tool for licensing and park maps, directions, and camping reservations.
- On the Sapry County website, there’s an Alert Center that is worth selecting options from, including closures, road updates, and emergency alerts that impact the city (such as a parking ban on city streets during a snowstorm).
- Check the air quality using an app like Air Now. Wildfires from central or western Nebraska or even Kansas can cause air quality issues throughout the year, but mostly in spring.
So... How Safe Is Gretna Really?
Gretna is the safest part of a very safe county.
As I recommended using the crime mapping technology, I went through it myself for the reports in 2022.
This isn’t the official data from 2022, but it does cover all the calls to 911 and traffic stops.
Even Nebraska Crossing only had a handful of theft reports in the parking area.
Across the county, from the official 2021 crime data, 50% of all thefts are related to car break-ins or accessory thefts, with the average loss between $850 and $2500.
Bellevue and La Vista had the highest number of crime reports, but again, that’s still in a low crime county considering the popular versus criminal offense.
Violent crime is a fraction of the national and Nebraska average.
Since the main draw to Gretna is the outlet shopping center, use extra caution when locking your car, loading in shopping bags, and while walking around.
I’ve visited this mall several times, including Black Friday, and I’ve never felt the crowds were overwhelming or that I was at risk.
Gretna is a small town with one big attraction, but it’s in a very popular county next to a major metro area.
There’s a lot to explore here, and Gretna is a safe place to start.
How Does Gretna Compare?
|Hong Kong (China)
You'll need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring to start. From there, you need either a visa or visa waiver to get through Customs at the airport. The U.S. State Department website has a Visa Wizard tool to help you get started on the right track. One tip—don't apply for the wrong type of visa. If you're here for work, apply for a work visa, etc. You'll have to start over from the beginning if you apply for the wrong one.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. While shopping, please use credit cards if you can to get the best fraud protection. Never throw a receipt out in a public trash can, and always keep receipts in your purse or wallet, not in the bag.
Bring layers of clothing since temperatures fluctuate a lot here. Winter will usually require a coat, but it can be mild or below freezing at any given time. Check the forecast before you pack, as the five-day forecast should give a good indication of what you'll need. Summers will be hot and humid.
Eppley Field is about 30 minutes from Gretna, but check the Nebraska 511 app to find the best way to get through traffic.
Comprehensive travel insurance gives the best protection against weather delays, severe weather closures, accidents, and healthcare needs.
Gretna Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month
Nebraska - Safety by City
|South Sioux City