Is Jefferson City Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On March 12, 2023
Jefferson City, United States
Safety Index:
75
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
92
* Rated 92 / 100 based on 5 user reviews.

Jefferson City is the capital of Missouri and is located in the heart of the state, surrounded by the beautiful Ozark Mountains.

It is a charming and historic city that is rich in culture, history, and natural beauty.

The city was named after Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, and was founded in 1821.

It has been the capital of Missouri since then and is known for its beautiful capitol building, which sits atop a hill overlooking the Missouri River.

The Missouri Governor’s Mansion competes for attention as it is a beautiful example of 19th-century architecture.

The mansion is surrounded by lush gardens and is considered one of the most elegant homes in the city.

If you want something a little more macabre, how about visiting the “bloodiest 47 acres in America”?

The Missouri River also beckons outdoor lovers, from bluff side views to fishing to riding the many trails along the river.

Jeff City, as it’s usually called, is also one of the cities along the Katy Trail.

The popular trail runs 240 miles across the state, with specific stops in charming cities along the way.

Jefferson City is also less than an hour from the tourism hot spot of Lake of the Ozarks.

This outdoor paradise was the setting for the popular show Ozark, but don’t let the sinister and dreary nature of that show influence you.

I spent many summer weekends there, and it’s a lot of fun, whether you’re looking for wholesome family memories or looking to let loose with other adults.

Warnings & Dangers in Jefferson City

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

Jeff City has a low risk, but that's to say it has an average risk of all American cities. It comes in slightly below the national average. Since many attractions here are at government buildings and in high-security areas, the risk stays low. However, I can almost guarantee you'll go to prison during your visit.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Use the Token Transit app to get the schedules of the JEFFTRAN public bus routes. Taxis and rideshares will be readily available, and you can opt to rent your own car easily. All options are low risk.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

The city averages seven pickpockets a year looking at five-year historical crime data, and 2022 followed suit with seven reports. Probably because of the high levels of security in and around the capital, the numbers stay low.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

Jeff City is still doing repairs from an EF-3 tornado that came through in 2019. Nobody was killed, but more than $170 million in damage was done. This is an example of why it's important to stay weather aware. Spring kicks off tornado season with severe thunderstorms happening often. Winter can bring snow, ice, and sleet. All the risks come with plenty of warning.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Robberies have gone down a lot since 2017. 500% to be exact, with just seven reported in 2022. That's a low risk, and let's hope that number stays low.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

Missouri is a tumultuous state with politics, and being the state capital is going to bring an ongoing risk, but that risk comes with an overwhelming amount of security. The concerns for the average tourist should be no more than reporting suspicious activity. You'll notice extra security when the general assembly is in session from January through mid-May.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

Fewer than two fraud reports happened each week in 2022, and the largest category was ATM or credit card fraud. You can search the Jefferson City Police Department's (JCPD) social media pages to see if any new scams are reported, but basic financial safety steps will work well here.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women are statistically 10% more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, but with just 12% of strangers being a victim, the risk stays low. Use all the standard cautions like not walking around at night alone or going home with someone you just met.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. You shouldn't rely on that as the final answer because flooding or water main breaks can cause short-term issues. The city will send alerts about those problems.

Safest Places to Visit in Jefferson City

VisitJeffersonCity.com is the official tourism website for the Missouri State Capital.

The site offers a tourism guide, a state penitentiary guide, and a food guide.

You can download those without giving any personal information or have one mailed to your home.

You can find the tourism social media sites @visitjeffersoncity.

Are you still wondering why I called you a felon and sentenced you to guaranteed time in prison during your visit?

That’s because the Missouri State Penitentiary is open for tours.

There are no prisoners as the prison closed down in 2004, but what you will find is an intimidating building with even more intimidating stories inside.

The prison opened in 1836 and, during the 1960s, was referred to by Time Magazine as the “bloodiest 47 acres in America” because the prison was so dangerous.

Guided tours are available but niched, like ghost tours, history tours, and photography tours.

The Missouri State Capitol’s neoclassical architecture stuns, and that’s before you see the ornate and intricate interior.

Take a guided tour of the building to learn about Missouri’s history and government, but you’ll need to make reservations at least 24 hours in advance.

New in 2023, you can take a self-guided audio tour and skip the reservations.

The Governor’s Mansion also requires reservations at least a day before, and you should know the capital and mansion are half a mile apart, so consider that walking time if you’re planning to do those tours back to back.

It’s rare in America to have the governor’s home be open to the public.

The Cole County Historical Museum features exhibits on the city’s early settlers, its role in the Civil War, and its growth as the state capital.

It’s a great destination for history buffs and takes a nice break from government-building tours.

The Runge Nature Center is a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

The center features interactive exhibits, live animals, and beautiful hiking trails.

It’s a great place to learn about Missouri’s flora and fauna and get up close and personal with nature.

The Missouri River Pedestrian Bridge, also known as the Skywalk, is a pedestrian and bicycle crossing over the Missouri River.

Along the way, you’ll find a fence with a bunch of locks.

This is a romantic gesture where people attach a lock and then throw away the key in the river, “locking in their love.”

You can surprise your loved one with this unique treat.

For more practical purposes, this bridge also connects you to the Katy Trail and provides two scenic views from above the river with the capitol on the horizon.

Places to Avoid in Jefferson City

Given that all the places to visit are in a central area, there aren’t any dangerous paths you’ll cross along the way.

Even if you drive off the beaten path, you won’t find a neighborhood too dangerous to visit.

Since this is a working government city at a time of political tension, there’s going to be a lot of security, and you need just to accept that.

Bring your legal ID or passport with you at all times, as many places will require ID and possibly a security pat down.

Bring only the bare minimum of what you need, as anything confiscated you likely won’t get back.

During the first part of the year, when the state government is in session, you’ll likely see more protests on the street.

In America, we have the right to protest peacefully.

However, sometimes these protests can get out of hand.

You should avoid protests that are getting rowdy.

Avoid swimming or trying to float the Missouri River.

It’s too swift, dirty, and debris-filled to make it a safe choice.

While nobody will stop you, it’s just downright dangerous.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Jefferson City

  1. Jefferson City Police are in charge of the city, but Missouri Capitol Police monitor the government buildings. You can find them each on Facebook at @JeffersonCityPolice and @MoCapitolPolice, respectively.
  2. Before you enter the capitol, review the rules on the Capitol Police website. No firearms, knives with a blade longer than four inches, or explosives are allowed. You’ll find a more exhaustive list of banned items on the website.
  3. Downtown Jefferson City has plenty of parking spots, whether on the street or in parking garages. Some spots are reserved monthly or for legislators. Make sure you’re always in a metered spot and pay the meter while noting the length of time you have to explore.
  4. There’s a website for Downtown Jefferson City that address FAQs and things to do that don’t involve government building tours. It’s important to check for events that could lead to road closures or larger crowds.
  5. Sign up for Rave Alerts through the Jeff City Police Department website to get notified when severe weather is on the way, or there’s another kind of emergency happening.
  6. You can also tour the police department if you’d like, which is a great chance to ask specific safety questions during your visit. Just call (573) 634-6400 to schedule a time.
  7. You can report safety issues on the streets, like potholes or broken streetlights, by calling the Public Works Department at (573) 634-6455 or using the city’s online form. Don’t assume someone else has reported the issue.
  8. You’ll do a lot of walking here, and you need comfortable walking shoes. Don’t wear new shoes or dress shoes if you know you’ll end up with blisters. Also, bring bug spray from spring through early fall since the humid climate brings mosquitoes. Avoid perfumes with flowery scents and opt for citrus scents to help ward off the bugs.
  9. Anglers are required to have a fishing license from the Missouri Department of Conservation. There are non-resident permits spanning from one day to 365 days.
  10. You might read about the Whispering Galley and Dome Tours at the Missouri State Capital, but those are not available on the tours, and you can’t go there alone. Only in special circumstances (like a politician willingly offers to give you a tour) can you see those places.

So... How Safe Is Jefferson City Really?

Jefferson City had a mixed bag of crime data in 2022.

The violent crime rate was up 18% but still comes in 20% lower than the national average.

Aggravated assault was up 29%, with 12% of those happening against strangers.

That doesn’t mean those incidents were random acts of violence.

It could be anything from a bar fight to a drug deal.

Thefts were down 10% in 2022, with 24% being related to car break-ins and 13% being shoplifting.

The theft rate is still 13% lower than the national average.

The weather risks are ongoing, but if you sign up for those alerts you’ll be prepared for anything.

If you aren’t familiar with tornadoes, you should review the emergency management website and the National Weather Service details to know the difference between a tornado watch, warning, and tornado emergency (the 2019 tornado prompted the first Tornado Emergency in Missouri).

You’ll need to have a love of government building tours to really enjoy your time here, but the state penitentiary is definitely worth visiting, and I’d put it up there with Alcatraz as one of the best prison tours I’ve done.

Outside the capital environment, this is a nice, Midwestern town that’s not too big or small and is close to major recreation areas.

St. Louis is also just two hours east.

How Does Jefferson City Compare?

CitySafety Index
Jefferson City75
Atlanta58
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International visitors need a visa or visa waiver if they qualify for the latter and a passport to get through Customs. The passport and visa will come in handy when touring government buildings, so bring them with you.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency accepted nationwide. You should use credit cards as much as possible since they offer the best fraud protection. You can exchange currency in Jefferson City at various locations, but you'll pay higher fees than if you did so at your home bank.

Weather

Weather

Dress for all four seasons, but know that spring and fall can have fluctuating temperatures. The government buildings might also be cold, so bring a jacket or sweater. Summers will be hot and humid, so wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to help with sweat stains.

Airports

Airports

Columbia Regional Airport (COU) is the closest commercial option, as the Jeff City airport is for private planes. You can also drive two hours to St. Louis if you're looking for a larger airport.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

We recommend travel insurance to places in the Midwest prone to severe weather. If you purchase it when you book the flight, you're immediately covered against emergencies or last-minute cancelations.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Jefferson City Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -2° C
Feb 1° C
Mar 7° C
Apr 13° C
May 18° C
Jun 23° C
Jul 26° C
Aug 25° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 14° C
Nov 7° C
Dec 1° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
471320242932312721136
Low
°C
-7-516121720181471-5
High
°F
394555687584908881705543
Low
°F
192334435463686457453423

Missouri - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Blue Springs82
Boonville83
Branson70
Cape Girardeau72
Carthage80
Chesterfield78
Clayton72
Creve Coeur78
Fenton72
Ferguson43
Frontenac72
Hannibal76
Independence74
Jefferson City75
Jennings31
Joplin53
Kansas City39
Kirksville72
Kirkwood77
Lee’s Summit78
Maryland Heights79
Mehlville73
New Madrid84
Poplar Bluff57
Rolla58
Springfield62
St. Charles79
St. Joseph47
St. Louis58
Ste. Genevieve83

Where to Next?

5 Reviews on Jefferson City

  1. C
    CyberEditor says:

    Safe! But...need an editor!

    I have to chuckle – “Overall Risk: Low” but then “However, I can almost guarantee you’ll go to prison during your visit.” 😂

    1. Please read the entire article to get it

      Because of the prison tours, not because you will be accused of a crime.

  2. A
    Adriana Bradley says:

    I visited Jefferson City last summer and felt completely safe throughout my stay. The locals were friendly, and the city had a welcoming atmosphere.

  3. C
    Christina Adkins says:

    Helpful locals

    I recently traveled to Jefferson City with my family, and we had a wonderful time. The city felt very safe, and we explored various attractions without any worries. The parks were well-maintained, and the people we encountered were helpful and kind.

  4. A
    Arabella Bishop says:

    As a solo traveler, safety is always my top priority. During my trip to Jefferson City, I found it to be a secure destination. The streets were well-lit, and I felt comfortable exploring the city even at night.

Jefferson City Rated 4.6 / 5 based on 5 user reviews.

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