Is Woonsocket Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On February 29, 2024
Woonsocket, United States
Safety Index:
65
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Woonsocket, Rhode Island, sits at a crossroads of heritage spanning Native tribes, industrial revolution glory, an immigrant mosaic, sports pioneers, and reimagined modern culture – reflections of the struggle to forge an American identity still etched into old red brick lining the Blackstone River.

As with many cities in the Blackstone River Valley, it was the power of water that fueled the 19th-century factories.

By 1920, the French-Canadian, Irish, and Polish communities had swelled the thriving “Mill City” into Rhode Island’s third largest.

Hard times followed New England’s textile decline, but reinventing still runs through Woonsocket’s DNA.

The reimagined River Island Art Center and reclaimed riverbanks offer bikeable bonuses beyond beautifully restored former industrial bones.

Nearby, the Stadium Theatre anchors an emerging dining and nightlife district steps from burgeoning breweries.

The Museum of Work and Culture illuminates the sweat and sacrifice behind the booming businesses lining Market Square during the city’s heyday.

A “Lean & Mean” Woonsocket now courts further revival, its proud spirit embodied by hometown hero and boxer Vinny Pazienza, whose against-the-ropes attitude frames the Comeback City’s determined reach for new beginnings.

Warnings & Dangers in Woonsocket

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

The risk here is medium, based on the fact that it's one of the most dangerous cities in an otherwise safe state. Also, there are not a lot of hotels or things to do here.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Check the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) website to see if there are routes in Woonsocket that suit your needs, but keep in mind there are some sketchy parts of town, and you don't want to end up in one of those, especially after dark. Rental cars, rideshares, and taxis are easy to find in this region.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

The risk here is low but higher than in most other Rhode Island cities I've researched. About three pickpockets or purse snatching happen each year. Your vehicle is more likely to be broken into than something taken from you.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

Treat this as a medium risk based on the hurricanes, tropical storms, and nor'easters that overlap throughout the year. Flooding is also a risk on the Blackstone River. As long as you stay aware of the weather, you'll get plenty of advance notice of a storm.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Compared to the national average, the robbery rate is a low risk. However, you're more likely to be robbed in Woonsocket than at least 80% of other Rhode Island towns. You can keep the risk low by staying out of unknown neighborhoods, especially after dark.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

The only terrorism concern here is the drug dealers that are selling potentially deadly products to people. The risk of international terrorism is low, but domestic terrorism can happen anywhere in America, as we've seen far too often.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

There's a low risk of being scammed, but with a poverty rate of 20% and a large homeless population, you might be panhandled.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women might want to think twice about visiting Woonsocket, especially if traveling alone. If you need to be here specifically, just use big city street smarts and stay in well-lit, secure areas.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. Even though the water treatment facility can emit an awful stench, you shouldn't have concerns about the quality of the water.

Safest Places to Visit in Woonsocket

Researching the places to visit in Woonsocket brought me to a place I’d never been before in my years of researching travel safety stories.

Not only does Woonsocket not have a tourism website, but it also isn’t even covered on the Visit Rhode Island website.

I figured the city website must have something for visitors.

It does.

But it’s more about public recreation and city parks than anything else.

I was able to find some museums and other attractions that might interest you.

And if anyone from Woonsocket is reading this, I’d be happy to help you build a tourism website.

The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor does have a website, and Woonsocket is an important part of this legacy.

Boat tours of the river are available, but they depart mostly from Central Falls, about 30 minutes away.

You also have a handful of museums to explore, like the Museum of Work and Culture.

This highlights the efforts of immigrants who came to work in the Blackstone River Valley and provided essential services to keep the mills running during the Industrial Era.

The Blackstone Historical Museum is just across the state border in Massachusetts.

Check out local events or seasonal hours on their Facebook page @blackstonehistoricalcommission.

The Veterans Memorial Museum of Rhode Island is another option.

Artifacts range from the Revolutionary War to today’s military forces.

The Museum of Broadcast Technology piques my interest, as I worked in local news for 20 years.

However, it’s unclear from the dated website if the museum is still open.

Check the WMBT website and see if tours are still being offered by request.

Those who like performance art can review the shows at The Stadium Theater.

Woonsocket is also ideal to visit during Autumnfest, one of their biggest events of the year.

Places to Avoid in Woonsocket

Unless you’re on the east side of town or north near the Massachusetts border, use caution in Woonsocket and stick to the place you want to visit as a tourist.

This is one of those cities where a safe street and a dangerous street could be the same, just a few blocks apart.

The police department should be able to help you with more common trending crime areas before your visit.

It’s also important to know that Woonsocket isn’t a place to walk around at night.

It’s not overly dangerous, but there’s enough crime and other criminal elements that just make it unwise to explore after dark.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Woonsocket

  1. You can follow the Woonsocket Police on Facebook @woonsocketpolice. Feel free to call them at 401-766-1212 if you have specific safety questions.
  2. Sign up for CodeRED emergency alerts to be informed when severe weather is possible or imminent. This will also cover other public safety hazards. You must stay informed of any issues while you’re here.
  3. Woonsocket police use Flock Cameras to record license plates throughout the community. This information is only used if the vehicle is connected to a crime. Provided you don’t plan on using your vehicle as a getaway vehicle, you won’t even notice this is happening. On the issue of privacy concerns, it was worth mentioning. Feel free to read more about the cameras on the department’s website.
  4. If you see or suspect drug activity in Woonsocket, the police department has a form you can fill out anonymously on its website. About two drug crime arrests happen each week, and Rhode Island is dealing with a surge of overdose deaths largely connected to high doses of fentanyl. You could save a life by reporting this activity.
  5. If you’re visiting in winter, an incoming snowstorm will mean a parking ban throughout Woonsocket. During this time, no cars are allowed to park on the street. This is to help snow plows clear the roads. If you don’t move your car, you could get ticketed or towed at your own expense.
  6. Woonsocket is dealing with a homeless issue, and you should be aware that some parts of the city might become impromptu homeless camps. The ones that are there today might not be the ones when you visit. If you see what looks like a campsite or a place with a lot of trash, leave the area. You are under no obligation to give money to a panhandler, and if you do want to donate, choose to give to the homeless shelter.
  7. Nearly half of all violent crime victims here are under the age of 30, and about 15% of the suspects arrested are under the age of 19. Teen crime is a big problem in America, and it’s worth telling you that so you don’t assume a group of teenagers at a park or a mall is just “kids being kids.” In fact, a huge bust in 2023 led to the arrest of six people, all 16 or 17 years old.
  8. In Woonsocket, it makes sense to find a hotel or rental that has a covered garage or a parking area with surveillance. From car break-ins to sprees of BB guns being unloaded through some neighborhoods, breaking dozens of windows, it’s best if you can keep your car out of plain sight.
  9. Something stinks in Woonsocket. The wastewater treatment facility on Cumberland Hill Road is known for sending noxious fumes that can linger throughout the city. The intensity of the sewage smell depends on the humidity and wind direction. During a recent meeting, one resident argued with city leaders, stating, “Are you not embarrassed by even the contemplation of bringing visitors to this city, only for them to be disgusted and sickened by that smell?” You can’t really do anything about it other than know the potential for stink and make your travel decisions from there.
  10. Don’t swim in the Blackstone River. The sewage plant sometimes has a discharge that makes the already yucky water even worse. Always assume swimming is a bad idea unless the local health department says otherwise.

So... How Safe Is Woonsocket Really?

Woonsocket takes a tough beating on Reddit, with many people surprisingly being able to agree that Woonsocket isn’t the most desirable location.

One even commented, “The first thing I noticed about Woonsocket was that everyone you see there looks like they’re about 6 hours into the worst day of their life.”

Is it sketchy?

Yes, in some places.

Is it unsafe?

Also, yes, in some places.

Rhode Island is known for being one of the safest states in the nation.

The crime in Woonsocket could arguably keep it in the top 10 instead of the top 5.

The violent crime rate in Woonsocket is 9% higher than the national average and 151% higher than the state average.

At the same time, the violent crime rate has dropped 25% since 2017, so progress is being made.

The only redeeming quality for a tourist is that just 12% of those violent crimes happened against strangers, according to the last five years of crime data.

Of all the violent crimes, 56% happened in private homes.

Robberies are 25% lower than the national average, which is in addition to the 53% decrease since 2017.

While Woonsocket isn’t up there with the most dangerous cities in America, it’s certainly among the most dangerous in Rhode Island.

However, that isn’t really saying much in a state with a crime rate 40% lower than the national average.

Use common sense and street smarts while protecting your valuables.

Don’t leave your car unlocked.

Close the windows at night.

Look for a hotel in a safer city than Woonsocket if the crime rate bothers you.

If you’re used to big cities like New York or Chicago, you’ll likely scoff at the thought that Woonsocket is dangerous.

How Does Woonsocket Compare?

CitySafety Index
Woonsocket65
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Atlanta58
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International travelers have two things to consider before they visit. First, getting a visa or visa waiver can be an extended process, depending on whether you need to do an interview or qualify for the more efficient waiver. Then, a valid passport that isn't within six months of expiring is also required.

Currency

Currency

You purchase items in the U.S. Dollar currency. Carry as little cash as you need in Woonsocket due to the theft rates. Credit cards offer the best fraud or identity theft protection.

Weather

Weather

Pack clothing based on the season, as Woonsocket gets a healthy dose of all of them. Winter will likely require a thick coat, accessories, and snow boots. Summers will be warm and humid but not stifling hot. If you plan to visit the beaches, bring sunscreen and water shoes. Bug spray is needed for anyone spending time outdoors from late spring through fall.

Airports

Airports

You'll be a good 30 minutes from T.F. Green International Airport near Providence but plan for more time if you're traveling during peak times of the day. Boston Logan International Airport is about an hour away.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

You'll want comprehensive travel insurance if you can afford it because not having insurance can be very costly out of pocket. It's especially important to have some kind of emergency healthcare if your health insurance doesn't extend to Rhode Island or the United States.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Woonsocket Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -2° C
Feb -2° C
Mar 3° C
Apr 10° C
May 15° C
Jun 20° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 22° C
Sep 19° C
Oct 12° C
Nov 7° C
Dec 1° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
34816212529282518126
Low
°C
-7-7-3391418161361-4
High
°F
373946617077848277645443
Low
°F
191927374857646155433425

Rhode Island - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Burrillville79
Cranston88
Cumberland84
Jamestown82
Johnston79
Little Compton81
Narragansett82
Newport80
North Kingstown83
Pawtucket80
Providence68
Warwick85
Westerly82
Woonsocket65

Where to Next?

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