Is Schenectady Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On August 21, 2023
Schenectady, United States
Safety Index:
52
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Perched along the Mohawk River of Upstate New York, Schenectady packs in a robust history and plenty of attractions just 10 miles outside the state capital in Albany.

Originally inhabited by Native Americans, Schenectady was founded as a fur trading post by the Dutch in the 1600s.

Schenectady became an industrial hub in the 1800s.

Most notably, Thomas Edison established the Edison Machine Works here, which later merged into General Electric, employing thousands at its Schenectady-located headquarters and manufacturing facilities for over a century.

This is where Schenectady gets the nickname “Electric City.”

With such a storied past, it’s no surprise Schenectady offers an array of historical sites like the Stockade District showcasing colonial architecture.

The city also contains various performing arts theaters, charming parks, and nature areas perfect for riverside strolls, interesting museums covering topics from science to local heritage, fun amusement park rides, and abundant restaurants and cafes.

Whether you’re a history buff, art lover, or outdoor enthusiast, Schenectady’s diversity of attractions and significance as an innovation center for industry giants like GE make this small city a great getaway destination in upstate New York.

Warnings & Dangers in Schenectady

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

Schenectady has a medium risk with its ongoing high crime rates that don't seem to have a solution in sight. There are great things to do here, but the town comes with an elevation caution as a whole.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Taxis and rideshares are easy to find, but having a rental car allows you to explore nearby towns like Albany, Cooperstown, and Saratoga Springs. The Capital Region Transportation Authority (CDTA) offers public transportation around town and the region. The safest options are a rental car and/or rideshare. Use extra caution with the public transportation system.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

The police department doesn't release pickpocket statistics, but we do know that theft rates are twice the national average. Treat it with a medium risk and don't wear fancy technology or carry expensive purses. You don't want to draw attention to yourself.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

The risks here aren't anything the city can't handle but could cause big travel problems if you don't pay attention. The medium risk comes from winter storms, severe thunderstorms, flooding potential, and extreme heat/cold.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM

The robbery rate here is four times the national average, and nearly 40% of those are highway robberies. This is another medium risk. Lower that risk by not walking around at night alone outside of entertainment districts.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

Even with the state capital close by, the risk is low. New York City has been and always will be a bigger potential target. It's still important to report any suspicious activity you see. Domestic terrorism is a risk in any American community.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM

I've seen enough scam risks posted on the police department's Facebook page that I would treat it as a medium risk and just stay informed about trending scams. Please know that no police officer will ever demand money from you over the phone or have the right to arrest you if you don't pay. With a large homeless population here, you should avoid any panhandler or group of homeless people with signs begging for money or food.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM

Women should treat this town with the same medium risk as anyone else. You don't want to walk around by yourself here if you don't have to, especially at night. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2022 Water Quality Report shows several violations, mostly due to reporting errors and not water quality standard violations. It's a low risk, but I've seen more pristine water quality reports in my investigations around the country.

Safest Places to Visit in Schenectady

Discover Schenectady is the name of the tourism website for the region.

The city also has kiosks located around various tourist attractions to get more information as you travel.

The website offers a travel guide updated seasonally, and it’s free to download without having to share personal information.

Explore the History at Schenectady County Historical Society.

See artifacts, photos, and documents tracing Schenectady’s past at this museum dedicated to the county’s heritage.

Browse the Art at Schenectady County Public Library.

Don’t miss the impressive Steinmetz Hall inside the library, which displays amazing paintings and sculptures.

Tour the Gorgeous Stockade Historic District.

This neighborhood has over 100 homes from the 18th and 19th centuries that you can admire on a stroll.

Spend an Afternoon at Central Park.

Schenectady’s beautiful 200-acre park offers rose gardens, a pool, an ice rink, sports facilities, and walking trails along the Mohawk River.

Boat rides and paddle rentals are available on the river too.

Enjoy a Show at Proctors Theater.

Catch a Broadway touring production, concert, comedy show, or movie in this gorgeous historic theater in downtown Schenectady.

Explore Nature at Vale Cemetery.

Take a peaceful walk through this lovely cemetery filled with ponds, streams, and rolling hills.

Try the Rides at FunSpot.

Kids and adults alike will love the go-karts, mini golf, arcade games, roller skating, and rides at this indoor amusement park.

Go high-tech at the Museum of Innovation and Science (Innovation at miSci).

This excellent science museum has exhibits on everything from nanotechnology to terrestrial planets and local inventions.

If you want an adults-only activity, check out the Rivers Casino and Resort, where the gambling action of Las Vegas thrives in Schenectady.

Slots, table games, and a sportsbook offer a chance to strike it rich while entertainment and dining options are plentiful.

Places to Avoid in Schenectady

You want to avoid the Hamilton Hill area and about a mile in all directions from it.

This is the most dangerous part of town, and even if you are just driving through, you don’t want to risk stumbling upon a crime in progress.

Here it’s best to stick to the tourist attractions and take direct routes on main roads and highways to get to and from the locations.

Don’t wander around the city if you don’t know where you are going.

You could end up in a dangerous neighborhood where pumping gas or asking for directions isn’t safe.

Check the water quality of the Mohawk River before you swim in it.

While it’s one of the safer swimming rivers in the state, the New York Department of Environmental Quality is always checking the bodies of water to confirm they are safe or if they need warnings posted.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Schenectady

  1. Schenectady has its own police department (SPD). You can find them on Facebook @SchenectadyPD or call (518) 382-5201 to ask specific safety questions.
  2. Sign up for emergency notifications through Smart911. Schenectady County has more information about the program on its emergency management website, but getting weather-related and emergency alerts is important to have a safe trip and be aware of risks.
  3. The city of Schenectady also has its own alert system where you can sign up for more details on local issues like road closures or crime scenes impacting certain neighborhoods. You’ll sign up for that under the “Alert Center” on the city’s website.
  4. You can report suspicious activity, crime tips, and drug crime tips through the police department’s website. Even if you aren’t 100% sure there was a crime committed, any information helps the police. You can remain anonymous.
  5. Review the park restrictions page on the city’s website. The parking rules change when more than three inches of snow falls. It’s a mix of numbered sides of the streets and only on certain streets, so it’s way too intricate to detail here – or just park in a garage!
  6. Use the city’s See Click Fix program to help report issues like potholes, storm damage, or vandalism. You can also view the website to see what other reports have been made. From what I’m seeing right now, there’s a lot of littering.
  7. Use NY 511 to check traffic conditions and road construction throughout the state. This handy tool allows you to set preferred routes and then get alerts if there’s an issue on that route. You can also see live cameras along most major interstates.
  8. Feel like fishing? You’ll need a license for that through the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. You can apply for one and purchase it online. Just keep a copy of it with you while fishing.
  9. Don’t use your mobile phone while driving here, or you could get a $200 ticket for the first offense. Considering how many aggressive driver reports I’ve seen, I would suggest you do it for your own safety too!
  10. To ride the CTDA public transportation system, you can purchase a bulk ticket pass online. This is much safer than pulling out your wallet at one of the stations.

So... How Safe Is Schenectady Really?

There’s really no way getting around saying that Schenectady is one of the most dangerous cities in New York, and especially Upstate New York, at least statistically.

The violent crime rate is twice the national average and nearly 250% higher than the state’s rate.

Theft is twice as high too.

As another concerning point, there doesn’t seem to be a cause-and-effect relationship between the surge in crime starting in 2021.

“We don’t know if you’ll find one specific thing that’s driving these trends up,” said Lt. Ryan Macherone with the Schenectady Police Department.

Even the crime data provided doesn’t give a great perspective on WHO is impacted by crimes.

Most violent crimes were listed as “relationship unknown,” which suggests more of filling out all the details than 87% of all violent crimes being committed by people the police or victim know nothing about.

That said, the Hamilton Hill area is historically disenfranchised and underserved.

That leads to more desperation, homeless, and crime.

Too many American cities have these communities.

Schenectady just can’t get a grip on this yet, but the city is trying with affordable housing and redevelopment coming to the area.

I know some people reading this will say, “It’s not that dangerous.

Just mind your own business.”

To a certain extent, that’s true – don’t go looking for trouble, and you won’t find it.

However, we write these stories to the masses, including people who aren’t used to gunfire daily or weekly.

The city isn’t too dangerous to visit by any means.

It’s just not the safest, and you should use extra caution to enjoy the safe spaces that do exist.

Oh, and lock your car.

Motor vehicle thefts were up nearly 20% between 2021 and 2021, now averaging about four a week.

NOTE:

While searching for crime statistics on the police department’s website, I did see several listings for a crime statistics analyst.

Maybe more detailed data will be available in the future.

How Does Schenectady Compare?

CitySafety Index
Schenectady52
Dallas64
Memphis54
Orlando64
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Vienna (Austria)88
Hong Kong (China)70
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

The same requirements apply to any port of entry or airport where international visitors are arriving. A valid passport and visa or visa waiver must be presented when going through Customs and Border Patrol. If you have additional questions about the visa process, check out the U.S. State Department website.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Exchange currency at your home bank to get the lowest fees. You don't want to carry a lot of cash in Schenectady due to the high theft and robbery rates.

Weather

Weather

You'll get the typical four seasons here, with a summer lean toward hot and muggy weather and a brisk winter with temperatures at or below freezing for several months. The city gets about five feet of snow a year. Spring and fall always fluctuate. Pack layers to be prepared for any weather. You'll want bug spray in the spring and summer.

Airports

Airports

Since Schenectady is so close to Albany's International Airport (ALB), that's the easiest option, just eight miles away. 8.2 miles away. You'll have to drive nearly 100 miles to reach another commercial airport option.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

For vacations to places prone to weather-related travel issues, travel insurance is always a smart choice. Don't forget about medical coverage as well if your health plan is limited to the US. It's also wise to verify rental car insurance will protect you fully in case of any accidents.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Schenectady Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -6° C
Feb -4° C
Mar 1° C
Apr 8° C
May 14° C
Jun 19° C
Jul 22° C
Aug 21° C
Sep 16° C
Oct 10° C
Nov 5° C
Dec -3° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
-1161320252827221582
Low
°C
-11-9-4281316141041-7
High
°F
303443556877828172594636
Low
°F
121625364655615750393419

New York - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Albany77
Binghamton61
Brooklyn74
Buffalo58
Cooperstown78
Elmira64
Fair Haven75
Greenport Village78
Ithaca62
Jamestown54
Lake George78
Lake Placid82
Lewisboro88
Long Island83
Manhattan82
Mt Vernon62
New Paltz79
New Rochelle77
New York City67
Niagara Falls63
Oswego75
Poughkeepsie79
Queens73
Rochester67
Rye76
Saranac Lake77
Saratoga Springs74
Schenectady52
Seneca Falls79
Shelter Island85
Sleepy Hollow77
Syracuse71
Utica57
Watertown63
Watkins Glen81
White Plains77
Yonkers59

Where to Next?

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