Delaware : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Delaware - state review
Visiting New Castle, DE, is a journey through time and a vibrant exploration of colonial history.
Located on the banks of the Delaware River, this small town is a gem of the Mid-Atlantic region and the oldest continuously operated town in the Delaware Valley.
That history is preserved in the historic district, with cobblestone streets, 18th-century buildings, and old-world charm while still just being eight miles away from Wilmington.
New Castle’s main attraction is First State National Historic Park, where independence for Delaware was declared.
Historic buildings range from affluence to working-class, with a garden that has been welcoming guests for nearly a century.
Strolling along the riverfront, you’ll encounter Battery Park, a scenic spot with panoramic views of the water and the iconic Delaware Memorial Bridge.
Walk down the riverside path to the beach, or head the other way for a waterfront icon at Bull Hill.
New Castle invites visitors to discover its unique character, immerse themselves in the past, and experience the charm of this hidden treasure in Delaware.
Local festivals throughout the year bring opportunities to see re-enactments, colonial parades, and tall ships coming into port.
Warnings & Dangers in New Castle
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in the historic district, but you should know there's an elevated risk around that area. Property crimes and nuisance crimes are the biggest concerns, but your common sense and situational awareness should be able to handle the potential problems here.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
DART is the bus system for Delaware, with stops in New Castle. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find. Rental cars are also widely available. All options are low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Only four pickpockets have been reported in the past five years, and two of those were in 2021. The risk is low of being *pickpocketed, but car break-ins have a much higher risk. 30% of all thefts (which is double the national average) were car burglaries.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
The medium risk runs throughout the year, with winter storms, nor'easters, and hurricanes being the biggest threats. Severe thunderstorms, flooding, and extreme heat/cold can also cause problems. Even if New Castle would be spared a direct hit from a hurricane, the storm surge is the biggest concern.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The risk is low, but there are too many robberies that made headlines here to leave it at that. One robbery involved men preying on dating app sites. They met up with women and immediately robbed them at gunpoint. Another involved an armed robbery at a park close to 2:00 am. More robberies at local businesses could terrify a visitor. For a place that averages fewer than seven robberies a year (six in 2021), the few that happen are pretty scary.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
Being close to Wilmington and Philadelphia, there's an elevated risk, but New Castle itself has a low risk. You can read the latest Homeland Security Terrorism Bulletin at any time to get a better idea of nationwide concerns.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
An ongoing scam here involved spoofing the police department's phone number, allowing the scammer to extort money from victims potentially. This scam largely targets residents, but you should still keep your guard up. Police in America will never call you to demand money. Panhandlers are also a problem here, and you should never believe the story they tell you when begging for money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in the historical area, but you need to stay on your toes in this community. It's best to drive with car doors locked, and windows rolled up to avoid panhandlers. Don't leave your vehicle unlocked, or even a window cracked when you park. Big-city safety techniques work well here.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. Outdated lead pipes could cause some issues, but you can resolve that by letting a stagnant faucet run for a minute or two before you consume it. That just gets rid of any debris that's been sitting in the pipe.
Safest Places to Visit in New Castle
Trying to find an official tourism site for New Castle leads up down a rabbit hole of outdated websites.
Even the city’s website links to websites that don’t exist.
You can learn more about the historic stops through the New Castle History website.
Start in the center of town at the museums.
You have the following options:
- The Arsenal
- The Amstel House
- The Dutch House
- The Old Library
- The Gardens
- The surrounding Historic District
Look for events through the historical society website, as historic walking tours, garden parties, and social events are planned each season.
During October, haunted walking tours are held through the cobblestone streets after dark.
This might be the only time it’s safe to walk around at night!
Downtown is also filled with smaller attractions, like the old railroad ticket station, the New Castle Presbyterian Church (one of the oldest in America), or “Packet Alley,” where you can walk in the footsteps of Andrew Jackson.
When you get hungry, Jessop’s Tavern serves up colonial food and international delights with modern flair in a building nearly four centuries old.
You can also search for old-world treasures at the Opera House Arts & Antiques store.
Look for the Kalmar Nyckel tall boat rides available seasonally, and if you want to explore the Copeland Maritime Center, you can make the short drive to Wilmington.
The boat rides take you on a replica boat of the one that docked here in 1638.
Places to Avoid in New Castle
I’d strongly recommend getting to New Castle Green, the historical society, or eating a meal first to ask a local about the safest places to be.
We know that the historic district is the safest part of town, but talking to a police officer might help give you the best guidance based on crime trends at that time.
In a place this preserved, it can be easy to take a turn into a potentially risky neighborhood.
In general, the historic district is mapped between 6th, South Street, the Delaware River, and the Broad Dike Canal.
The historic district doesn’t entirely have cobblestone, but since the two edges of the area are bordered by water, it’s hard to get lost.
It is easy to get turned around, as a bit of a contradiction to my last sentence.
While the layout is easy to understand, I recommend you take a Google Maps Street View to see how narrow the streets are and how many roads are one-way with cars lining the side of the street.
I definitely advise that if you need to put gas in your car, do it during daylight hours.
Safety Tips for Traveling to New Castle
- New Castle, the city, has a police department. There’s also New Castle County Police Department. The city’s department can be found on Facebook @NewCastleCityPolice. The county’s department is @nccde.
- The county’s website has a crime mapping system that does include the New Castle city area. You can search for certain locations and see a list of crimes that happened there in the past six months. I noticed a lot of the criminal activity was in apartments, nearby parking lots, and homes.
- Don’t leave a car running and unattended here. Apparently, there’s a trend of people leaving a vehicle idling while they run into a store. Car thieves are just waiting for that opportunity. You also shouldn’t leave a car idling while waiting for it to warm up.
- Shoplifting is a problem in New Castle. From 2017 through 2021, 35% of all thefts were shoplifting. If you see this happen, don’t intervene. Just report it to a store employee. If you witness a shoplifting altercation, it would be helpful to stick around and talk to the police.
- If you witness criminal activity, like shoplifting, or as serious as drug deals, you can stay anonymous and report it through Delaware Crimestoppers at (800) 847-3333.
- For those relying on DART bus services to get around, I recommend you check the website often. There are a lot of changing schedules, re-routing, and other service issues that you should be aware of before deciding this is the right transportation option for you.
- Panhandlers in New Castle have been known to be aggressive but not violent. They might bang on your car window or shout at you. While it’s not legal to do this, it can be scary when you’re stuck at a red light while this is happening. Don’t let the aggressive nature cause you to give in. Panhandlers are most often found on Route 113.
- The Emergency Management section of the city’s website has brochures and checklists to help you prepare for any weather emergency.
- Delaware is one of just a handful of states that doesn’t have a sales tax on any goods. That means if you’re traveling to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Maryland, wait to buy groceries and other supplies in Delaware. You’ll save at least 6% on all purchases.
- One of the biggest events of the year in New Castle is Separation Day. It’s Delaware’s own “Independence Day.” If you’re planning to visit for this event, expect large crowds. Since there aren’t a lot of hotels in New Castle, to begin with, you’ll likely be staying in Wilmington. Look at options in Newark, Delaware, just 12 miles away. Just be sure you aren’t accidentally looking at Newark, New Jersey, which is much larger but also two hours away.
So... How Safe Is New Castle Really?
New Castle has some problems, but visiting the historic district is one of the safest places in town.
The violent crime rate is lower than the national average, but the property crime rates are 225% higher than the national average.
Theft rates are double that average.
From crime reports and social posts, the Wawa’s (a convenience store/gas station chain) on North Dupont Highway in New Castle has seen everything from armed robberies to carjackings to prostitutes to panhandlers.
As charming as New Castle’s downtown might be, the areas just outside that section can be very dangerous.
Now, if you’re from a big city, you’ll likely not even blink at the crime that can happen here.
For those from smaller towns or assuming Delaware is idyllic, there’s a harsh reality to know.
There’s no reason to avoid visiting New Castle, but you now know the best safety steps, risks, and guidance to help make it as fun as possible.
How Does New Castle Compare?
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International guests will need a valid passport that isn't within six months of expiring. In addition, a visa or visa waiver (for those eligible) will be required. The tourist visas take the longest, so start as soon as possible.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Exchange currency at the airport or your home bank for the lowest fees. Many banks in America won't offer the service unless you are a member.
Dress for four seasons with all the winter accessories, as it can get bitterly cold and snowy here. Packing a rain jacket throughout the year is a good idea. Spring and fall can have fluctuating temperatures, so pack plenty of layers. Summers will be warm, and you'll need bug spray and sunscreen. Bring a hoodie for cooler summer nights.
Greater Wilmington Airport (ILG) is 2.4 miles away. Philadelphia's larger airport (PHL) is just 22 miles from New Castle.
There are so many benefits to travel insurance you might not realize, like how it goes into effect as soon as you purchase it, meaning you can cancel last minute without losing money. You will also be protected against the numerous severe weather events that can ruin a vacation or cancel flights to this area throughout the year.
New Castle Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Delaware - Safety by City