Is Kingsport Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On May 14, 2024
Kingsport, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Kingsport is in the Tri-Cities region of Eastern Tennessee, tucked up near the Virginia border.

It’s the largest of the three that sit right in the Appalachian Mountains foothills.

One of Kingsport’s claims to fame is its connection to the Long Island Iced Tea, a potent cocktail invented at the Kingsport Inn in the 1920s.

Yet Long Island New York snubs that claim, insisting the cocktail was invented there in the 1970s.

While its exact origins are subject to debate, the cocktail’s popularity has endured in Kingsport.

History here paves literal and figurative paths, from Indian warpaths to the Wilderness Road, then through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

In the early 1900s, Kingsport was designed as a “Model City,” setting an example of urban planning.

More than 100 years later, Kingsport is once again facing urban planning while dealing with unsavory crime rates.

Even the State of the City in 2023 stated that Kingsport was “Under Construction.”

The Tri-Cities of Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City need each other to thrive.

A visit to one might not be complete without a visit to the other three.

Here’s the summary of safety in Kingsport.

Warnings & Dangers in Kingsport

Overall Risk


Kingsport has a medium risk due to high crime rates, pollution issues, and illegal drug problems. If you're choosing between the Tri-Cities, you might want to choose Kingsport as a last resort.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Kingsport Area Transportation System (KATS) is the fixed route option. However, routes have been cut back in recent years due to staffing challenges and a lack of people using the bus. Taxis and rideshares are available. Rental cars offer the most flexibility to visit safer parts of the Tri-Cities.

Pickpockets Risk


About five pickpockets are reported each year, going back through five years of crime data. That's not a high number, but with the skyrocketing theft rate, don't let your guard down here.

Natural Disasters Risk


You get a mixed bag of risks, from tornadoes to severe thunderstorms to flooding. Winter storms aren't as massive as the ones out West, but can still be disruptive. Treat this with a medium risk and pay attention to the forecasts.

Mugging Risk


The robbery rate is 37% lower than the national rate, averaging about one a week. Just four highway robberies were reported in 2022, but with the other high crime rates here, treat it as a medium risk.

Terrorism Risk


This is a low risk. Especially with the high crime rates, it's just important to report anything suspicious that happens. Terrorism, domestic terrorism, or mass shootings can happen in any city, but the bigger risk for a visitor is the day-to-day crime in Kingsport.

Scams Risk


Visit the Tennessee Attorney General's website to view the Scams, Schemes & Swindles section. This will give you an idea of trending scams across the state. Local law enforcement will also post common scams. The risk is low, as most target residents, but you need to be aware of the tactics used.

Women Travelers Risk


The medium risk extends to women visiting Kingsport, and ideally, you're always with a friend or a group. Minimize flashy jewelry or name-brand clothing. Don't meet with people you've met online in a private place.

Tap Water Risk


Despite the fact that the water comes from a polluted river, the Kingsport Water Department has received the Director's Award from the Partnership for Safe Water Program "for its efforts to achieve excellence in water quality far beyond what is required by federal regulations." That is no easy task. The 2022 Water Quality Report emphasizes that no violations occurred, and all tap water was compliant. The risk is low.

Safest Places to Visit in Kingsport

The Visit Kingsport website is the official tourism site for the city.

You can get a visitor’s guide, but you’re required to give personal information.

I never like that – but create a separate email account to keep third-party vendors from getting into your main email inbox.

You can also use the East Tennessee Visitor’s Guide website to get information about the region.

There is also a website for Downtown Kingsport, where you can find information about the shops, restaurants, and local events.

I would also visit the website to see cultural art locations around the city.

That includes a classic merry-go-round downtown and a mural trail.

Located in one of the safer parts of town is the Exchange Place.

Step back in time to a farm depicting early Appalachian life.

Take a guided tour of the historic house and wander through the gardens and outbuildings.

Farm animal interactions and demonstrations take place throughout the year.

Bays Mountain Park is one of Kingsport’s crown jewels, offering over 3,500 acres of wilderness to explore with a 44-acre lake.

With numerous hiking trails, a nature center, wildlife exhibits, and a planetarium, Bays Mountain Park provides endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and education.

Situated around Fort Patrick Henry Lake, Warriors’ Path State Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Among the 12 miles of trails are the same routes used for the Great Indian Warpath and subsequent wars.

The park features hiking and biking trails, a golf course, picnic areas, a swimming pool, and opportunities for boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

A park with the same name is in Pennsylvania.

Don’t get the two confused.

Places to Avoid in Kingsport

The Kingsport Police Department offers a community crime map where you can search for crimes within whatever preferred timespan you choose.

However, I cannot get the program to work for me.

That might be a temporary issue, or the link could be outdated.

I do recommend you try to research that to see the crime hot spots closer to your visit.

Check for drug crimes as much as anything else because police point out that violent crime usually follows drug crime.

Lynn Garden is one area to avoid, as there’s a lot of crime there related to drugs.

At least one business was closed down due to ongoing problems.

In 2024, a hotel for homeless people abruptly shut down, displacing dozens of people.

Even downtown Kingsport isn’t always the safest place.

There has been an issue with homeless people sleeping on benches, so the government put wooden blocks on the benches that make it impossible to lie down.

Also, take note of the Exeter Plant location.

The company has been fined for illegal levels of pollution, and a stench can fill the air from emissions for many days.

While most of the chemicals and emissions would require ongoing exposure for many years to result in health issues, the stinky smell alone could be enough to keep you away.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Kingsport

  1. Kingsport does have a local police department. You can follow them on Facebook @KingsportPoliceDepartment. It doesn’t look like they update their X (Twitter) account as often. Call (423) 229-9300 with any specific safety questions.
  2. The police department offers an Anonymous Tip section of its website where you can share information without having to give personal information. Please utilize this if you see anything suspicious.
  3. Kingsport and Sullivan County use the Hyper-Reach program to send out emergency alerts. This will cover severe weather or public safety hazards. Sign up – it’s free – and you can easily unsubscribe when you leave.
  4. Spend some time reading the Police Blog on the department’s website. You can see the most recent crimes and calls for service. This is not the same as the Media Report, which is a password-protected section.
  5. Kingsport has red light cameras at major intersections. That means instead of getting pulled over for running a red light, a photo is taken, and then a ticket is mailed to you. Yes – they can track down rental car drivers. If you do get a ticket, you can pay it online or come back to appear in court.
  6. You enjoy free parking in Kingsport, with nearly a dozen garages and a lot of on-street parking. The one thing to pay attention to is the time limit, mostly for street parking. Be sure you know the rules for parking overnight so that you don’t get a ticket.
  7. Kingsport has a Selfie Trail where you can stop and take photos. Then, you’re encouraged to use a hashtag. However, this will show up in many public areas of the tourism website. Be sure you don’t post a photo while you’re still in a location so that nobody can follow you.
  8. The roads in Kingsport can become pretty beat up from the freeze/thaw cycle of winter and spring. This can create potholes. Be careful when driving, and if you notice a new pothole, use the See Click Fix app to report it. That will alert city street crews, who can come fix it.
  9. Download the Connect Kingsport app so you can be in touch with any city department you need, check local events, and report problems. This is not to be used in an emergency but is a handy tool when exploring the city.
  10. Anglers need a license from the state, and you can find all that information on the Go Outdoors TN website.

So... How Safe Is Kingsport Really?

Violent crime rates are 27% higher than the state average and twice as high as the national average.

About 37% of those crimes happen against strangers, and 48% happen in private homes.

Car theft is another concerning statistic here, with a 148% increase over the past decade.

On average, six cars are stolen each week as of 2022.

Theft rates are 120% higher than the national average.

The numbers are so high I literally had to check to see if I was accidentally searching for the five-year average instead of one year.

While that rate is down 23% from 2019, it’s still watered down to at least four thefts a day, again, on average.

About 32% of all thefts are related to shoplifting; another 31% are car break-ins and car accessory thefts.

Local law enforcement ties much of the criminal activity in the community back to drugs.

In fact, 2022 data shows that arrests connected to drugs averaged 11 a week.

In addition, 2022 saw 102 overdose deaths in the counties that cover Kingsport.

One aside – since I research so many cities, I see the breakdown of drug crimes a lot.

Some cities have high drug numbers, but the majority are related to marijuana.

In Kingsport, those only accounted for one-quarter of the crime.

Stimulants, narcotics, and “other” trending illegal drugs fill out the rest.

Since the Tri-Cities are also along a major interstate, there are concerns about illegal drugs and human trafficking.

There’s a lot of beauty in this area, but there’s also a lot of crime.

Watch your back and stay away from illicit activities while you’re here.

Always call 911 in the event of an emergency.

How Does Kingsport Compare?

CitySafety Index
New Orleans57
Washington DC56
New York City67
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82
Cordoba (Argentina)61

Useful Information



The U.S. State Department website has a visa module that can help you get on the right track for either a visa or visa waiver. Make sure your passport is not within six months of expiring from the last day of your trip, or else you'll have to get it renewed.



Only the U.S. Dollar will be accepted here. Your bank at home will give you the lowest rates and the most flexibility. If you plan to exchange currency at the airport, know that only international airports will offer that luxury.



You get the standard four seasons here, so dress accordingly. It's a very laid-back, casual area with a lot of outdoor adventures to be had. Pack hiking boots, comfortable walking shoes, and extra layers if you plan to go to the mountains. You want to have bug spray with you when outdoors.



Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) is about 20 minutes away. It's not a large airport, but flights go to Atlanta and Charlotte several times a day. Your next option is McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, less than two hours by car.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

We always recommend comprehensive travel insurance when visiting a place prone to wild weather. Depending on your chosen activities, you might want to consider adventure insurance.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Kingsport Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 3° C
Feb 5° C
Mar 10° C
Apr 15° C
May 19° C
Jun 23° C
Jul 25° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 15° C
Nov 9° C
Dec 5° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Tennessee - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Bell Buckle79
Johnson City68
Pigeon Forge78
Wears Valley78

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