New Jersey : Safety by City
- Asbury Park
- Atlantic City
- East Orange
- Hamilton Township
- Jersey City
- Long Beach Island
- Mountain Lakes
- Mt. Laurel
- New Brunswick
- Red Bank
- Seaside Heights
- Toms River
- Upper Township & Ocean City
- West Orange
Trenton, New Jersey, is the capital city of the Garden State, often overshadowed by its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia.
The city has a strong Revolutionary War history with monuments and museums throughout, but it’s also a cultural melting pot, with just 13% of the community being Caucasian and 23% of the community being foreign-born, according to the latest census data.
Trenton’s city center cradles the Delaware River, a sight of more history and modern amenities.
The town of 91,000 people is working-class and has a big city feel even though it’s technically medium-sized.
Between some of the best international cuisine you can eat and the historic monuments that shaped America, there’s a reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
There’s certainly a lot to unpack here, looking at safe things to do, places to avoid, and how crime rates stack up in 2023 and beyond. Let’s dive in.
Trenton hasn’t submitted official crime data through NIBRS for 2021 or 2022.
While this isn’t required, it’s strongly encouraged to track crime trends.
All data in this story will be from 2020 or updated by updated information from police that doesn’t always paint a full picture of criminal activity, for better and worse.
Warnings & Dangers in Trenton
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Trenton based on the crime statistics that we do know and the lack of transparency in the most recent crime data. This area is historically dangerous, poverty-stricken, and gritty. There are still a bunch of great things to do here but enter with caution, common sense, and relentless attention to personal safety.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
New Jersey loves its public transportation, and NJ Transit is the preferred way to get around. Taxis and rideshares are abundant. Rental cars are readily available, but you should research the parking challenges, car theft rates, and recent break-ins before you make a decision. All options come with a medium risk, and you should be prepared for homeless people and panhandlers at public transportation stops.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
Unfortunately, we don't have good crime data on this due to a lack of transparency from the police department. What we do know is that the theft rates are lower than the national average, just slightly, but that there's no hesitation to take things by force here. Treat this with medium risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Hurricanes, nor'easters, and winter storms can cause big problems here. The city is also prone to flash flooding. You should explore the emergency management plan for Trenton to get more familiar with these risks and always have a way to get severe weather alerts.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
Robbery rates are 350% higher than the national average. Again, the transparency issue is frustration because we don't know how many of those crimes are against strangers, on public streets, or in private homes. Either way, treat it with a medium risk. Don't walk around at night, and never resist a robber if you're confronted.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Trenton is between two of the most populated regions in America, so you have to assume a medium risk here. Use the Homeland Security Department's Terrorism Advisory Bulletin to stay on top of risks and always report suspicious activity. Due to an increase in gun violence and mass shootings, it's smart to avoid any crowd where it feels like trouble is brewing.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
New Jersey is filled with fast-talking and pushy people designed to thrive in the gritty environment. While it's normal to someone who lives there, it could be off-putting or scary to a stranger. Always assume someone is trying to scam you, and seriously limit who you give your phone number to while researching and visiting. Anyone who contacts you and demands money is a scammer. Any sob story on the street is likely a lie. Anyone who offers to watch your car is probably going to steal it. Yeah, it's cynical, but this is how you have to approach these East Coast cities.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a category where no crime data has been provided for Trenton, but we do know the police chief said sexual assault was down 23% in 2022. He just didn't offer more information beyond that. If you do a quick Google News search of rapes in Trenton, it's nausea-inducing, so treat this with a medium risk. Treat this as a medium risk and watch your back.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report is worth reading in its entirety, but there were two violations in 2021 (which are reported in the 2022 report). There's the concern about lead pipes, which can be avoided by letting stagnant faucets run for a minute or two before using the water. Signing up for Reverse 911 alerts through Trenton Water Works will also get you immediately notified if there's a drinking water issue.
Safest Places to Visit in Trenton
The Trenton city website has a section for visitors with a list of parks, restaurants and things to do.
Princeton’s website also has a section on Trenton.
The Visit New Jersey website covers things to do in Trenton and nearby.
Many people come to Trenton for the array of international cuisine.
You can follow the Trenton Eat Local Club Facebook group to find the hottest sports and traditional favorites.
This is also a great opportunity to ask which restaurants are in the safest parts of town from people who live there.
The Revolutionary War New Jersey website lists all the sites you can explore in the state.
There is a special section for Trenton.
The city is in Trenton County, which is another search option you can consider.
Several options include the Old Barracks Museum, Trenton Battle Monument, and the Washington Crossing the Delaware statue.
The New Jersey State Museum gives a great overview of the entire state’s history, and it’s right by the statehouse.
This is a safe place to explore for a day in a more touristy area with a lot of security.
This multidisciplinary museum features a diverse range of exhibits, including natural history, archeology, fine art, and cultural artifacts.
Explore the planetarium, discover New Jersey’s Native American heritage, or marvel at contemporary art exhibitions.
Nearby, the New Jersey State Capitol Complex is a sprawling campus that houses several notable buildings and landmarks.
Take a walk around the complex and admire the impressive architecture.
The complex also features beautiful landscaping and open spaces, a pretty sight that you won’t see too much in Trenton.
Nestled within Cadwalader Park, the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion is a cultural gem.
Housed in an elegant Victorian-era mansion, the museum showcases a diverse collection of art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
Enjoy exploring this park, as guards are on duty most of the day.
Delve into the engineering marvels of Trenton at the Roebling Museum.
Located in the former factory buildings of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, the museum celebrates the legacy of the Roebling family, who designed and built iconic structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge.
Discover the history of wire rope manufacturing and explore exhibits on bridge engineering.
This is a great stop for people (like me) who are afraid of bridges to understand the engineering and safety that goes into planning.
The Mill Hill Historic District takes you back to a collection of 18th and 19th-century homes.
The guided walking tours will give you safety in numbers while getting great exposure to the stories behind the beautiful buildings.
Places to Avoid in Trenton
“The safest part of Trenton is away from Trenton.”
This comment or some version of it is used quite often in social forums where people ask about the best places to visit and the places to avoid in Trenton.
One of the most positive I’ve seen is, “It’s not the worst but not the best.”
Crime data distribution websites like Crime Grade and Neighborhood Scout show the downtown and the area west of downtown as the most dangerous, but unless you’re outside the 295 loop there’s likely no place where you’ll feel warm fuzzes visiting.
If you’re a city slicker and used to things like homeless people badgering you and street crossings where you take your life into your own hands, it might not be that bad. It might feel like home.
Trenton is a working-class city with an average income of $39,000 and a poverty rate of nearly 30%.
It would be helpful to reach out to the police for neighborhoods to avoid before you go and stick to the tourist attractions and state capital as much as possible.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Trenton
- Trenton, New Jersey, has its own police department. The Facebook page is @trentonpolicedepartmentnj. You can email them at email@example.com or call (609) 989-4000.
- The police department offers free Wi-Fi at its headquarters, but don’t let that give you a false sense of safety. It’s still a public Wi-Fi system that is hackable. Unless you are on a private network, don’t open your bank account apps or anything that requires personal information.
- The police department wants visitors to know that even if you see food being sold out of a home or a pop-up tent, it’s not legal unless the business has a health permit. Don’t risk getting sick on vacation, no matter how good the food looks. Always ask for a health permit or go somewhere else.
- Your crime tips can help the ongoing battle to lower crime rates in the city. You can text a crime tip using the phrase TPDTIPS and send it to 274637 with full details of the information. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org. This isn’t an alternative to 911. It’s only for information you get after a crime or if you notice something like fresh graffiti.
- Parking in Trenton requires the use of parking kiosks. You can use credit cards or cash to pay for parking, but no change is given if you use cash. Parking is enforced until 5:30 pm on weekdays.
- For those using NJ Transit to get around, download the app and be sure to sign up for alerts. Look for special ticket prices, like summer destinations near the beach.
- Trenton uses Reverse 911 to send out emergency alerts that can include severe weather, winter weather, road closures, major accidents, shelter-in-place orders, and other emergency services. Sign up by texting ‘Trenton411’ to 99411.
- Winter visitors should check the Emergency Routes on the city’s website. This shows the first streets to get plowed during a winter storm. It also bans cars from being parked on those routes during a snow emergency. You will get towed if you break this rule.
- Trenton has a history of flash flooding and extended flooding. It’s important to research the Flood Watch Information Center for the information you need to know about risks and safety steps. It’s also smart to check the most commonly flooded areas so you don’t get a hotel room in that area.
- Use the city website’s “Report a Concern” option to report safety issues like potholes, damaged streetlights, or issues that make your stay troublesome. You should never assume that a problem has already been reported.
So... How Safe Is Trenton Really?
Trenton ranked as one of the Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America in 2022, coming in at #53.
We know from the 2020 official crime data that the violent crime rate was 270% higher than the national average.
In 2020 and 2021, the city set a new record for homicides and then tied the record.
In 2022, that number was 23, a 43% decrease.
Even with the decrease, with an average homicide rate in the nation at seven people per 100,000 residents, Trenton is still at 25 per 100,000.
Another unfortunate loss of transparency in the 2020 data is that we don’t have information on how many crimes impacted strangers, how many robberies were against a person vs. business, etc.
Trenton’s Mayor issued this statement to News 12 New Jersey:
“As Trenton continues to reemerge from the pandemic with the reopening of state offices, with kids returning to schools, and parents returning to work, we hope all these conditions will improve.
Trenton is also seeing more development opportunities and people still investing in our city.”
That statement was in 2022, which was well beyond the worst part of the pandemic with lockdowns.
We can also tell you that local police say they have taken the following steps due to the increase in pandemic crime surges:
- More police officers hired
- Residents engaged in community policing to stop problems from escalating
- Launch of a “Real-Time Crime Center” using Shotspotter technology and license plate readers to catch criminals faster
It will be a long time before we can comfortably say that Trenton is a safe place to visit, but from the limited information we have been provided, it seems to be going in the right direction.
Despite all the violent crime, the theft rate was actually below the national average in 2020.
We don’t have more updated data for 2021 or 2022.
New Jersey is dealing with an epidemic of car thefts.
In Trenton, an average of five cars were stolen each week in 2020.
The unfortunate part about that is this—2020 was a record-low year for car thefts in New Jersey.
By 2022, the state was seeing nearly 300 car thefts each week.
All that said, U.S. World and News Report put Trenton as the best place to live in throughout New Jersey, stating in part, “The diverse, scenic Trenton metro area mixes the old and new… and its proximity to the Delaware River means locals can participate in aquatic sports and enjoy an assortment of wildlife.”
How Does Trenton Compare?
|Belize City (Belize)
|La Paz (Bolivia)
You'll need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring and a visa or visa waiver. It's worth reading the Immigrant Trust Directive on the police department's website to see how the government is interacting with the diverse community here. Just make sure you have all the right paperwork on you at all times.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, but carrying cash wouldn't be the best idea. Keep one credit card with you, as those offer better fraud protection than debit cards. You'll find plenty of places to exchange currency here, but it's smart only to trust a bank, even if it costs a little more.
You'll get four robust seasons, so don't skimp on winter clothing and accessories. Layers will be helpful for the volatile temperatures of spring and fall. Summers will be hot and muggy. Bring bug spray and sunscreen.
The commercial airports closest to Trenton, NJ, are Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN), located within the city; Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), approximately 36 miles southwest; and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), about 54 miles northeast.
Travel insurance is important, but car insurance for a rental is imperative. You always want to know what kind of refund or accommodations you'll get if severe weather shuts down airports.
Trenton Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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