Michigan : Safety by City
- Ann Arbor
- Battle Creek
- Farmington Hills
- Flat Rock
- Glen Arbor
- Grand Rapids
- Mackinac Island
- Mackinaw City
- Port Huron
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Sterling Heights
- Traverse City
Sterling Heights, Michigan, is one of the crowned jewel suburbs in the Detroit metro area.
It’s also one of the largest cities in the state, with a population of more than 134,000.
The Clinton River dances through Sterling Heights before making its way to Lake St. Clair.
You can also get to the lake in less than a half hour, and downtown Detroit is a quick 25-minute drive south.
You’ll come for the vast suburban amenities and stay for the outdoor features, or maybe that’s the other way around.
Sterling Heights is a culturally diverse community, with the immigrant population being 25% of all residents.
The highest number of immigrants are from the Middle East.
Be sure any research you do regarding this city as “Heights” on it because Sterling is a very small town two hours north of the Detroit area.
Warnings & Dangers in Sterling Heights
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Sterling Heights has a low risk, with much lower than average crime rates, and surrounding safe cities and town as well. If you're looking for the urban vibe of Detroit, you won't find that here. This is strictly suburbs, but it also serves as a great pivot point to the lake or the city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The SMART bus is the system to get around suburban Detroit. The system map shows an intricate weave throughout the region, and you'd have to pick up the Detroit D-Dot system to get around the city of Detroit. Taxis and rideshares are available, but those are best used to get around Sterling Heights, or else you'll rack up expensive charges to get around the region. A rental car is a smart investment to take advantage of all the amenities.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Just four pickpockets or purse snatchings were reported in 2021, so there's a low risk. You should use extra caution during crowded local events and in the shopping districts, as no city is safe enough to stop thieves looking for a crime of opportunity.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
All of Detroit can get nasty weather in each season. Spring brings severe thunderstorms and the occasional tornado. That risk runs into fall when winter weather takes over. While snow and ice storms are common here, if you're not used to it, it could catch you off guard. Sterling Heights does have its own emergency management department with safety tips and planning documents.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery risk is five times lower than the national average, which is a very low risk for visitors. That doesn't mean it's okay to let your guard down. Still use the same caution when walking around day and night.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Since the Detroit metro area is so large and diverse, there's always an ongoing risk of major attacks or Lone Wolf acts of violence. While Sterling Heights is unlikely to be a target, every American community should be approached in a vigilant manner and with confidence to report anything suspicious to local police. In 2018, a threat to "shoot up" Lakeside Mall was handled by law enforcement before any criminal activity happened.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Sterling Heights Police (SHPD) offers general safety tips in each season and posts regular scam reports on its website and social media pages. While there's no overwhelming risk for a tourist being scammed, you should never give personal information to someone who approaches you or calls/texts you demanding money, even if they appear to be from law enforcement.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women will love the safe nature, outdoor activities, and family-friendly options in Sterling Heights. There's a low risk overall.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. The water utility does address the potential for cloudy water coming out of the tap, which is caused by air bubbles in the water. The cloudiness doesn't cause a health risk and should clear up within five minutes.
Safest Places to Visit in Sterling Heights
Sterling Height doesn’t have its own tourism website, but the official city site offers insight into local events and parks.
The Pure Michigan tourism website does have a section on Sterling Heights with a list of places to visit, as does VisitDetroit.com.
The City of Sterling Heights is home to over fifteen miles of dedicated trails and 31 parks and green spaces throughout its vast park system.
Dodge Park is the central outdoor gathering spot for the community, right along the Clinton River.
Flanking Dodge Park you’ll find two newly installed two EZ Dock launches, one at Rotary Park and another at North Clinton River Park.
These docks open the waters to even beginning kayakers or stand-up paddleboarders, allowing a safer and easier way to get onto the water.
Clinton River Kayak is the go-to company to help you enjoy the water from those who know the Clinton River best.
Tours are available from calm waters to more aggressive rapids, and guides help you with every bit of safety and excitement.
The company is also committed to “No Child Left Inside,” offering affordable rates and discounts for lower-income families.
Family-friendly attractions abound in Sterling Heights, with two indoor adventure parks that offer many options for trending activities like ax throwing, rides, and the latest in gaming technology.
Full Throttle Adrenaline Park:
- Ax Throwing
- Rage Room (As Limp Bizkit said, “BREAK STUFF”!)
- Virtual Reality
- Go Karts (for fun and competition)
- Laser Tag
- Bumper Cars
- Glo Golf
- Ninja Zone
Lakeside Mall is in Sterling Heights, with the Mall at Partridge Creek just down the road in Clinton Township.
This mega shopping stretch along Hall Road, known as the Golden Corridor, has dozens of stores from name brands to local vendors and restaurants galore.
This is also a great place to book a hotel since it’s close to everything.
Check the schedule at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheater at Freedom Hill is the hot spot for outdoor summer concerts with new artists and some classic performances.
Check the schedule early because shows sell out quickly.
For activities near Lake St. Clair, you can visit Harrison Township Waterfront Park or Lake St. Clair Metropark.
Each venue offers extensive amenities and events throughout the year, plus some great fishing.
Both parks are about a 20-minute drive from Sterling Heights.
Please keep reading for information about Lake St. Clair water quality concerns.
Places to Avoid in Sterling Heights
You don’t have to worry about bad parts of town or dangerous neighborhoods in Sterling Heights.
Its reputation is “Sterling” for safety overall, but the main shopping districts will have the highest risks of petty theft or car break-ins.
A few high-profile cases reflect the emphasis on never letting your guard down.
You must avoid letting your guard down in the shopping area.
As an example, an 80-year-old woman was carjacked in a Sterling Heights Walmart parking lot in November 2022.
The incident happened in broad daylight.
The woman wasn’t seriously hurt, and the carjacker was caught.
It just shows that even “Sterling” safe communities are going to have a crime risk.
In May 2022, a minivan driver was cut off by a car while driving down the road.
The minivan driver “gave the finger” to the people in the other vehicle, which led to the minivan being fired upon by the people in the other vehicle.
While the minivan had extensive bullet damage, nobody was hurt and the suspects were arrested.
“Due to the outstanding job and quick response of our officers, two dangerous suspects were apprehended,” Sterling Heights police said in a release.
“During a time of rush hour traffic, these suspects didn’t care who they injured with their driving, as well (as) shooting at occupants of another vehicle.”
While we’ll dive into this a more little later on, Sterling Heights police don’t mess around.
They are actively patrolling the streets for speeders, red-light runners, and aggressive drivers.
They won’t hesitate to pull you over and have dozens of arrests from this aggressive prevention campaign to justify it.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Sterling Heights
- SHPD offers a whole section of safety tips on its website to enjoy the city while using smart personal protection. You can also follow them on Facebook @SterlingHeightsPolice to get updates during your visit.
- The department also has two LGBTQ liaisons to help answer questions or concerns about diversity and inclusion in the community, while offering information about safe spaces for that particular crowd of people and supporters. The contact information is under the LGBTQ Liaison section of the website.
- Use the Digital Crime Map on the department’s website to perform an interactive search based on your top crime concerns. This includes traffic stops, fraud reports, and violent criminal activity locations.
- I simply love this new feature smart departments like SHPD have, which is a traffic complaint form. Too often, aggressive or reckless driving happens so quickly we can’t even report it and certainly don’t want to confront other drivers. This form allows you to report the incident location, identifying features of the reported vehicle, and add a detailed story of what happened.
- The city of Sterling Heights has a Notify Me section of the website where you can sign up for new information or emergency alerts. While you don’t want to sign up for the entire list of options, as there are community meetings and such on there, you should sign up for alerts from the police and snow emergency information (if you’re visiting in the winter).
- With such great fishing in Sterling Heights along the Clinton River and on nearby Lake St. Clair, you will need a fishing license from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. You can purchase that online or at sporting goods or big box store, like Walmart, when you get there.
- Crimestoppers is the anonymous crime reporting system in Sterling Heights. You simply dial 1-800-SPEAKUP and provide information. Your identity will only be used for a potential reward payout if your information leads to an arrest. You won’t be called to testify, and any subsequent arrest documents won’t have your name attached.
- Lake St. Clair is not one of the Great Lakes, but it does have great safety concerns. There has been a decades-long fight to improve water quality. Without going too much into the details, you should never swim in the water or eat fish from the water until you confirm the water is safe at the time of your visit. Beaches might also be closed during your visit. The main health concern is e. Coli, which is largely due to goose droppings (did you know each goose excretes one pound of poop a day?).
- Mi Drive is the Michigan Department of Transportation road guide that includes details of everything from traffic backups to road construction updates. You can create an account and set alerts for a specific route.
- A Snow Emergency declaration sounds scary, but communities like Sterling Heights use it as a way to tell residents and visitors to avoid parking on the streets. This policy allows snow plows to clear the streets. The snow emergency will also trigger great safety advice and particular details of an incoming storm. Even if it’s snowing, you can still park on the street until a Snow Emergency is declared.
So... How Safe Is Sterling Heights Really?
Sterling Heights has crime rates that are at least two times below the national average across the board, with some categories being as low as five times lower than the national average.
That’s great comforting information, but it isn’t something you can just accept and assume there’s no risk.
We talked about a few of the higher-profile crimes in 2022, but there has also been a rash of Ulta thefts across the county, including the one in Sterling Heights.
You might have seen some trending videos on social media of these robberies.
This isn’t a typical shoplifting incident you might not notice.
These brazen thieves arrive in groups and quickly empty shelves, taking as much as they can as quickly as possible before running out to a getaway car.
Should you see any aggressive behavior – in a store, on the road, or at an event – get as far away as possible and provide police with any information you can.
There are gangs across Detroit who won’t hesitate to visit a safer suburb and cause chaos.
The implementation of the Directed Patrol Unit in July 2022 assigns a group of officers who do nothing but LOOK for suspicious activity or perform traffic stops.
In just the first month, more than 24 felony arrests were made and hundreds of traffic stops have helped keep illegal guns off the streets.
It has also potentially saved lives keeping speeders and red-light runner in check, while preemptively helping reduce road rage incidents.
More than 50% of the violent crimes happen in Sterling Heights homes, and a stranger is a victim of a crime just 25% of the time.
35% of all thefts are car break-ins.
As far as Detroit suburbs go, Sterling Heights is among the safest.
As you have learned, there’s still an ongoing risk for random acts of violence or arguments escalating to a violent level.
Stay aware of your surroundings, use standard safety precautions, and lock your car with the windows rolled up.
Keep in mind, there are more dangerous neighborhoods than safe ones in the Detroit area, so research other cities or townships you plan to visit before you go.
How Does Sterling Heights Compare?
- Visas - Since you can enter Detroit from Canada or through Customs at the airport, you should confirm you have the right documentation. The U.S. will require anyone entering to have a visa and passport. The tourism visa process can take months. Even with a promise from the U.S. State Department to speed up the process, get started on that as early as possible.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. If you're crossing into Canada, exchange currency to the Canadian Dollar at the Duty-Free shop. All currency exchanges will have lower fees, however, if you handle that at home.
- Weather - Dress for the most extreme in each session, and the weather pattern in this part of the country fluctuate, even in winter or summer. Bring bug spray if you're visiting between spring and fall since the mosquitoes here are legendary. You'll want hiking boots or water shoes, depending on what outdoor activities you plan to do.
- Airports - Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) is a major hub in the United States. It is on the other side of the metro area from Sterling Heights, so plan for an hour of drive time to navigate traffic.
- Travel Insurance - Even with one of the best on-time arrivals and departures at DTW, a major winter storm or severe thunderstorm can cause delays and cancelations locally or at connecting airports. Travel insurance protects against any additional expenses or refunds for missed trips.
Sterling Heights Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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