Is Las Cruces Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On July 9, 2023
Las Cruces, United States
Safety Index:
46
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Las Cruces, New Mexico, sits in the southwest corner of the state, a blend of modern desert vibes with historic preservation, wrapped around one of the most beautiful deserts on earth.

The city has an international history, having once been part of Mexico and now resides solidly within the United States, 46 miles from the border in El Paso, Texas.

It’s also 220 miles south of Albuquerque.

Even though Las Cruces (“Las Crew-says”) is at a literal crossroads of major interstates, this isn’t a city you should simply pass through.

There’s everything from prehistoric footprints to mesmerizing white stands to missile testing in the skies and some of the best night skies you can see in America.

In the city of 111,000 people, historic districts and a modern downtown blend flawlessly, giving many avenues for shopping, dining and entertainment.

You can’t visit here without trying the famed green chilies, and you’ll have your pick of how “hot” you want it.

Nature enthusiasts will be thrilled by the abundance of natural beauty surrounding Las Cruces.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is a breathtaking landscape with rugged peaks, desert ecosystems, and archeological sites.

The mild climate and strong cultural traditions make New Mexico a perfect four-season destination.

Warnings & Dangers in Las Cruces

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

There's a medium risk here due to higher-than-average crime rates and unique weather risks. While that risk shouldn't make you think twice about visiting here, it's important to know that crime can be widespread in this community. However, it's less likely in the places tourists will visit.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Roadrunner Transit is the public bus system in town. As of this publication, the rides are free. Taxis and rideshares are easy to find. If you'll be exploring places like White Sands National Park, a rental car would be a good option. All options are low risk, provided you use standard safety precautions.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

The city averages 10 pickpockets or purse snatching a year, which is a low risk for a place with 111,000 people. You still need to use proper precautions. It's smart to limit what you carry to only the bare essentials.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

Las Cruces is a desert city of extremes, as most desert cities tend to be. Summers can be excessively hot and dry. Wildfires can cause many dangers and destruction. Thunderstorms can cause flash flooding. Snow is not common in winter, but temperatures can get at or below freezing. Stay weather aware, so you can be prepared for any risk.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Less than 25% of robberies happen on public streets and sidewalks, with most happening in private homes. There's a low risk, but there's also an incredibly high number of aggravated assaults here. That's what a robbery could turn into if the victims fight back or resist.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM

Being this close to White Sands Missile Range will come with a medium risk. It also comes with an abundance of security. You can check the website (wsmr.army.mil) for the latest security concerns. Also, it's helpful for you to report anything suspicious you see.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

While most scams here are targeted at locals, you should be aware of the most recent ones. Those will be posted on the social media sites of the police department. Never wire money to reserve a rental home. Avoid giving any personal information to someone who contacts you that you didn't contact first.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women should use all the standard precautions, but there's nothing in the crime data that suggests they would be a higher risk than anyone else. This is an area known for sex and human trafficking busts, which is another great reason to avoid meeting strangers in a private place. Don't trust anyone you don't know.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations in Las Cruces. Water conservation is important here, and you can learn more about how to take part through the New Mexico Water Conservation Alliance website.

Safest Places to Visit in Las Cruces

Visit Las Cruces is a vibrant and well-planned tourism website that’s the official site for visitors to the region.

You can sign up for the newsletter and/or download the visitor’s guide for free without having to give any personal information.

I was surprised to see there isn’t a tourist guide in Spanish.

Downtown Las Cruces is a hub of activity, from a morning cup of coffee to late-night entertainment of eclectic entertainment.

A farmers and craft market is set up every Saturday, with a legacy dating back to the early 1900s.

Old Mesilla is a historic village in Las Cruces that was once the “big city” to stop in between San Antonio and San Diego.

The charm is preserved here with modern flair and colorful tributes to this former border town.

Take the Walk of Flame in Las Cruces, which is a collection of businesses offering green chile dishes of varying heat levels.

When you want to know more about the history of green chile creation in this city, head to the Chile Pepper Institute on the campus of New Mexico State University.

The White Sands Missile Range Museum showcases the rich history of the missile range and its contributions to science and defense.

It exhibits a wide array of missiles, rockets, and artifacts, highlighting key moments such as the V-2 rocket launches and space missions.

  • U.S. Citizens must have a valid ID that complies with REAL ID standards.
  • International visitors will be required to go through a background check and must have a passport/visa.

WSMR is not the same thing as White Sands National Park.

The only crossover would be when missile testing is underway and some roads or trails in the park are off-limits.

Visiting White Sands National Park offers a unique experience in a surreal landscape of endless white sand dunes.

Don’t miss a chance to sled down this natural gypsum formation.

NOTE: It is illegal to take sand from White Sands National Park.

The mountains jutting above the skyline are part of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

This is a diverse desert ecosystem with ancient petroglyphs.

You can explore on foot, ATV, or horseback.

I’d also recommend putting the Prehistoric Trackways on your itinerary.

These trackways, dating back over 280 million years, provide valuable insights into ancient ecosystems and the behaviors of prehistoric creatures.

Visitors view the preserved footprints and learn about the rich paleontological history of the region.

NOTE: Many of the artifacts found here are now at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science in Albuquerque.

For those into folklore, legends, and ghost stories, there’s a special place called La Llorona Park along the Rio Grande.

Legend has it that the spirit of a mother walks the river at night searching for her children who drowned, and if children get too close to the edge, La Llorona will snatch them as her own.

If that’s too creepy for you, it’s still a great trail to walk along the river that spans almost five miles.

Don’t expect water in the river throughout the year.

It’s dry as a bone during certain seasons.

Places to Avoid in Las Cruces

Crime maps show a pretty even distribution of crimes throughout the region.

Police will saturate high crime areas with patrols and stings, which can make a part of town more dangerous today less dangerous by the time you get there.

Here’s the key in Las Cruces—stick to main roads and avoid cutting through neighborhoods.

The streets here are laid in a format that looks like it was once a grid but crumbled like a house of cards.

Many side streets don’t go all the way through to another main road.

The chances of driving through a dangerous neighborhood go up when you are haphazardly driving around. Set your GPS or know your route and stick to it.

Summer visitors should avoid hiking in the heat of the day.

If you can’t be back by 11:00 am, reconsider the hike if the temperatures are excessively hot.

As an example, a group of five hikers was stuck in the Organ Mountains in June 2023 after one person was suffering from heat exhaustion.

They had to be rescued.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Las Cruces

  1. Las Cruces does have its own police department. You can call them with specific questions at (575) 526-0795 or email dtrujillo@las-cruces.org. Follow them on Facebook @TheLasCrucesPoliceDepartment or Twitter @LasCrucesPolice.
  2. Create a Nixle account to get updated safety and weather information as you go. This is how local news outlets get information from emergency responders, so you’ll be getting it at the same time.
  3. Las Cruces has an interactive Community Crime Map where you can enter search criteria. This is a great way to see crime trends closer to your trip. For example, you might want to know how many cars have been stolen within a 1/2 mile of your hotel.
  4. Bookmark the New Mexico Fire Information website (nmfireinfo.com) to stay up to date on wildfire risks and those that are already burning. These can impact everything from the air quality to road access to safety in outdoor areas.
  5. Las Cruces is known to have wildlife sightings that include bobcats and javelinas (wild pigs). Both animals should be avoided, and will only be aggressive if they feel threatened. I was once stuck on the second floor of my apartment building while I had to wait for a group of javelinas to get away from the staircase. Make noise to scare both away, and never look a bobcat in the eyes.
  6. Cannabis is legal in New Mexico but with plenty of limitations. That includes not being able to use it in public or driving while under the influence. You also have to be 21 to purchase it.
  7. To find the best spot to view the night skies near Las Cruces, visit the Astronomical Society of Las Cruces online. Keep safety in mind when you’re heading out. Bring a flashlight with a red filter, so you can see without creating light pollution. Understand that some animals come out at night, and there are at least eight poisonous snakes in this state. You can also bring a blacklight as scorpions will glow in its light.
  8. Las Cruces averages nine pedestrian deaths each year. Statewide the rate is 60% higher than the national average. You should always use caution when you’re crossing a street and never do so outside a crosswalk. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, confirm cars are slowing down for you (and through a wave of “Thank You!”) before you cross.
  9. NM Roads is the website to use for road conditions throughout the state. Since Las Cruces is at the intersection of two major interstates, it’s important to keep an eye on potential accidents that close the highway, construction zones, or incoming weather.
  10. Anglers over the age of 11 are required to have a fishing license before they can cast off in the Rio Grande (or any other body of water). You can purchase those online through the New Mexico Department of Fish & Game or at local sporting goods stores.

So... How Safe Is Las Cruces Really?

Las Cruces has a violent crime rate 160% higher than the national average.

20% of those violent crimes happened against strangers in 2021, with the relief of knowing that 75% of robberies happen in private homes, not on the street.

The downside is that aggravated assaults reached historic levels in 2022.

Nearly 30% of all thefts are car break-ins, and Las Cruces is seeing an increase in stolen cars to the tune of 18 per week!

Police say they recover about 68% of the stolen cars.

The real kicker in these crimes, which can commonly happen to tourists, is how preventable they can be.

“The reality is – If people stopped leaving their vehicle running with keys in it, locked their doors and removed their valuables, our property crime rate would drop drastically,” LCPD Deputy Chief Jeremy Story said.

“That doesn’t mean any of them deserve to be victims, but it does mean that if they did those things, their chances of being a victim would be drastically reduced.”

At the last count I could find from 2020, police said there were about 4,000 active gang members in Las Cruces.

That sounds scary, but generally, gangs rival each other and don’t target random strangers.

There is a lack of concern about strangers getting caught in the crossfire.

There’s trouble to be found in Las Cruces, that’s for sure.

If you don’t go looking for it and use common sense and street smarts, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty that is to be found here as well.

How Does Las Cruces Compare?

CitySafety Index
Las Cruces46
New York City67
Detroit56
San Diego67
Miami55
Honolulu65
Chicago65
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81
Melbourne (Australia)80
Montreal (Canada)81
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International guests need a passport and visa or visa waiver. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agencies detail the requirements online. For those travel going into Mexico during the visit, you should review the safety risks and strict requirements for re-entry.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. Exchanging currency at a bank or credit union is the best option if you're a member. You also have several businesses in town but expect to pay higher fees.

Weather

Weather

You'll get extremes in winter and summer, but fall and spring can be mild and welcoming. Even winter can be pretty warm, but you should always check the seven-day forecast before you go for unexpected weather swings. Always pack extra jackets or pants for the cooler evenings year-round. Do not forget sunscreen here.

Airports

Airports

The closest commercial airport is the El Paso International Airport (ELP), 50 miles south. Albuquerque's airport is a good 220 miles away, which would take about three hours on the road.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a wise investment to protect against everything from flight cancelation to sudden illnesses. If you'll be going to Mexico, please make sure your policy is in effect there too.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Las Cruces Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 7° C
Feb 9° C
Mar 13° C
Apr 17° C
May 21° C
Jun 26° C
Jul 28° C
Aug 27° C
Sep 23° C
Oct 17° C
Nov 11° C
Dec 7° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
151822263035353431262015
Low
°C
-2037121720191582-2
High
°F
596472798695959388796859
Low
°F
283237455463686659463628

New Mexico - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Alamogordo73
Albuquerque31
Carlsbad74
Chama73
Deming62
Elephant Butte73
Farmington52
Gallup46
Las Cruces46
Los Alamos71
Raton68
Red River72
Rio Rancho72
Ruidoso72
Santa Fe32
Silver City72
Socorro73
Taos77
Truth or Consequences74
Tucumcari73

Where to Next?

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