Skip to comments.These Are America’s 10 Most Dangerous Small Cities
Posted on 03/31/2014 6:27:23 AM PDT by Red Badger
If youre hoping to escape from big city crime, look elsewhere. These places actually defy the stereotype of smaller cities being safer.
When you see small towns on TV and in movies, theyre almost always idyllic places where the American dream is thriving and neighbors all know each other. That, and unless youre watching a whodunnit, no ones ever the victim of a crime.
In reality, small cities are surprisingly similar to all the others, meaning that there are good ones and bad. While the Movoto Real Estate Blog has been writing lately about Americas safest places, we thought wed switch gears today and look the small cities where crime is a real concern.
After studying more than 200 small cities, weve concluded that Wilmington, DE is the most dangerous in terms of crime. Its joined in this dubious honor by nine other places to comprise our 10 most dangerous small cities in America:
1. Wilmington, DE
2. Canton, OH
3. Jackson, TN
4. Rocky Mount, NC
5. North Little Rock, AR
6. Pensacola, FL
7. Daytona Beach, FL
8. Homestead, FL
9. Lauderhill, FL
10. Warner Robins, GA
Florida accounted for the single largest share of cities in the top 10, with four. Its interesting to note that all 10 are either in the Midwestern, Mid-Atlantic, or Southern regions of the country.
You can read more about the top 10 most dangerous below, and see a ranking of the 50 most dangerous at the end of this post. Next, well go over our methodology for building this ranking. How We Created This Report
To produce this ranking, we first decided on a list of small cities between 50,000 and 75,000 residents in size. After eliminating those without available crime data, we were left with a list of 234 places to study.
Using data from the FBIs 2012 uniform crime report, the latest available, we measured seven distinct crimes using the total reported incidents of each:
Motor vehicle theft
We separated these crimes into four groups: murders, violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery, and assault), property crimes (burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft), and total crimes. The cities were then ranked on the incidents of each group per 100,000 residents per year, from 1 to 234, with a higher score being more dangerous. We calculated the number of crimes per 100,000 residents for 2012 in order to have a level playing field on which to compare cities with varying population sizes.
The individual rankings (murders, violent crimes, property crimes and total crimes) were then weighted to create a final overall score. Murders, violent crimes, and property crimes each comprised 30 percent of the total, while total crimes made up 10 percent. The higher this combined score, the more dangerous the city.
Below, youll find a breakdown of how each of the 10 most dangerous small cities fared when judged on these criteria.
1. Wilmington, DE
The most dangerous small city we studied, Wilmington is on the larger end of our range with a population of just over 72,000. Despite the efforts of local authorities, which have included placing the citys entire downtown area under CCTV surveillance and other aggressive tactics, crime continues to be a serious problem in Wilmington. It topped the list in terms of violent crime, outranking 233 other cities for this dubious honor, with 1,703 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Wilmington didnt fare much better in other areas, ranking as the third-most dangerous small city in terms of murder (it saw 26 in 2012) and total crime (5,052 were reported there the same year). The only instance in which it did even slightly betterand then only relativelywas property crimes, where it placed ninth overall for its 5,305 crimes per 100,000.
With a reported 150 shootings by the end of 2013, it would seem that Wilmington has a long way to go before it can be considered a safer place to live.
2. Canton, OH
Ohio is known for lots of things, and thankfully being crime-ridden isnt one of them. Like most states, though, it has its rough spots, and Canton is one of them. A little more than 50 miles outside of Cleveland, this city made No. 2 on our list with a couple of second-place crime rankings: property crimes and total crimes.
In terms of the former, there were 6,550 property crimes per 100,000 residents there in 2012, and for the latter Canton had 7,562 total crimes per 100,000. Thefts led the list of property crimes, with 2,671 reported that year. Elsewhere in our rankings, Canton placed eighth for murder with 10 in all and eighth for violent crime in general with 1,011 per 100,000 people.
3. Jackson, TN
Named for native Tennessean and Americas seventh President, Andrew Jackson, this city of nearly 66,000 in Madison County has the dubious distinction of placing fourth overall in terms of both murders and violent crimes per 100,000. It earned that first ranking for the 11 murders reported there in 2012; one more than Canton, in fact.
Jacksons second fourth-place rank came from its 1,348 violent crimes per 100,000 residents that year. It fared substantially better in both property crimes and total crimes per 100,000, where it ranked 16th and 11th, respectively.
4. Rocky Mount, NC
Remember how we said every state has its rough spots? Well, North Carolina is home to places like Cary, NC, which are exceedingly safe, but also those like Rocky Mount, which certainly arent. In fact, this city of about 58,000 was the sixth most dangerous we looked at in terms of violent crimes, with 1,039 per 100,000 residents in 2012.
Rocky Mount performed ever-so-slightly better when it came to homicides, where it placed seventh overall with 14 per 100,000. Its rankings for property crimes and total crimes per 100,000 were slightly better. It placed 13th for the former with 4,693 and 12th for the latter with 5,732.
5. North Little Rock, AR
Situated across the Arkansas River from Little Rock, AR proper, North Little Rock is only about 30 percent as large as its namesake but actually has more per capita crime. This citys 5,920 crimes in 2012 were enough to earn it first place in terms of total crimes, while it also took first in property crimes (there were 5,471 of those).
Fortunately, the citys violent crime ranking was considerably lower at 26th overall, with 623 crimes per 100,000 residents reported in 2012. Its 13 murders per 100,000 were enough to earn it 12th place for that criterion.
With crime stats like this, its no wonder the North Little Rock Police Department has been experimenting with drones for the past few years and has plans to use them over high-crime neighborhoods in the not-too-distant future.
6. Pensacola, FL
Pensacola is the first of four cities in Florida that made our top 10 most dangerous places, which also means its the most dangerous of the bunch. It also happens to be the smallest by about 10,000 residents. Despite this, it ranks six places higher than the next-most dangerous small Florida city in terms of murder; Pensacola placed 10th overall in that category with 13 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2012.
As for violent crimes in general, Pensacola placed 19th with 656 per 100,000. For property crime, North Little Rock ranked 23rd, which is actually the second-safest in our top 10, while for total crime it placed 21st; the safest in our top 10 when judged that way.
7. Daytona Beach, FL
Probably best known outside Florida for NASCARs annual Daytona 500 race, Daytona Beach is fittingly on the higher end of the scale when it comes to motor vehicle thefts (it had 346 in 2012). In fact, the city ranked eighth overall when it came to property crime, with 5,367 per 100,000 residents. This was just slightly better than its rank for violent crime, where it placed ninth overall.
Daytona Beach placed sixth when it came to total crimes, with 6,359 per 100,000 people. Fortunately, it fared much better in terms of the most serious crime we looked atMurderwhere it ranked 44th overall with six per 100,000 during 2012.
8. Lauderhill, FL
Located just west of Fort Lauderdale, FL, the small city of Lauderhill is the safest place in our top 10 as far as property crimes go. It placed 32nd overall in that criterion, with 4,070 property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012. For total crimes, it ranked 20th.
Things look worse for the city when violent crimes are considered. Lauderhill saw 814 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, a number large enough for it to rank 12th overall. In terms of murders, things werent much better; Lauderhill had 12 per 100,000, a 16th-place finish.
9. Homestead, FL
Despite having the second-highest violent crime rate in our top 10, Homesteada city of almost 63,000 located south of Miami, FLwas fortunately much safer in terms of murder. It was third most dangerous overall for violent crimes, at a rate of 1,450 per 100,000 residents in 2012. For murder, it placed 45th, at six per 100,000 that year.
Homestead was 18th overall for property crime, with 4,461 per 100,000an overwhelming majority of which were thefts. As for total crimes, the city placed eighth, with a combined crime rate of 5,911 per 100,000 annually.
10. Warner Robins, GA
Home to Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins has the lowest overall violent crime rank of any city in our top 10, placing 45th most dangerous in that respect, but makes up for this fact when it comes to property crime. The city is sixth overall for burglaries, thefts, and vehicle thefts, with 5,520 property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012.
The overall crime rate of 6,027 per 100,000 recorded that year was high enough for Warner Robins to be ranked the seventh-most dangerous place in that criterion. As for murder, the city ranked 23rdnot the absolute worst, but with 234 cities in our ranking, certainly nowhere near good. Safety In Numbers
As we pointed out earlier, the majority of the most dangerous small cities we found are situated in the Mid-Atlantic, Southern, and Midwestern regions of the country. On the flip side, we noted that the safest tended to be divided into two groups: either out West in places like California and Utah or in Minnesota (where there seem to be lots of small cities, for yet-to-be-analyzed reasons).
Lakeville, MN was the safest small city (at 56,805 residents) out of all the ones we looked at, with a diminutive 14 violent crimes per 100,000 residents during the period studied (no murders or rapes were among them). The rest of the top five safest were, in descending order: Lehi, UT, Minnetonka, MN, Laguna Nigel, CA, and Yorba Linda, CA.
So, if you happen to reside in any of the unsafe spots we just covered, your ticket to low-crime living (without changing city size) just might be in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
How did Saginaw get snuck into the middle there? It looks like the smalltown capital of murders.
I concur with North Little Rock. Not a happy place.
Mostly red states. Sad! However, what is next most dangerous 10 cities with 5,000 people...of course you are going to get the 10 worst cities and some will be in red states.
Note Sanford, Florida.................home of you-know-who................
Saginaw for those who do not know, has a ... population which is ... well, diverse.
Blue spots in red states.
No. Not considering its place among the top ten.................
These are no doubt white majority enclaves.
That’s not very white of you... (Wilmington).
Let’s stop using RED and BLUE
Before AlGore’s election the democrpas were always COMMIE RED
I can’t believe the GOP let them get away with switching it without a word
Ah I don’t care if sanity were green.
Not enough minorities?
Seems like several of the top ten have military bases.
I noticed that.......................
They should have listed the demographics.
“Lets stop using RED and BLUE”
I’ve posted on threads with similar complaints that we should just switch it back ourselves, and capitalize the “R” in red so that there is no misunderstanding.
That would be waysis!..................
There is no reason we cannot do things ourselves, such as this.
The current meme is fine with me. Red is for redneck and red blooded.
Unfortunately every miscreant and naer-do-well on the continent seems to make a beeline for Florida.
Not true. Not true at all.
The incumbent party, the one holding the White House, was always blue.
Just think in the nest thirty yeas maybe Detroit will be a small city and could be on the list. They just missed the cut off for making Gary a small city. Maybe after the next census it will be on the list.
This is probably the only list of negatives that my state of N.J. is not well represented on. We seem to do very well on other negative lists.
I’m surprised that Fayetteville, NC didn’t make the list, as it was recently reported in the local newspaper that Fayetteville has the highest crime rate per capita in North Carolina and third highest in the U.S.
And yes, Fort Bragg is right next door.
Nearly 50,000 people have left Flint since I lived there in the 90’s. They are about to drop to five-figures, which should land them atop the next list.
The only reason Camden, NJ isn’t on the list is because it’s too large to make the small town list.
I think the crime rate vs proximity of military bases is because of the recruiting practices over the years.
Back in the old days, judges would give young men the choice of going to jail or joining the military, in the hope that they would be re-oriented into a civil human being. I don’t know if they still do that, bu I wouldn’t be surprised if the do....................
That there are safe places to live is a complete fallacy.
A fool’s dream.
I live in a rural area of NC.
50 years or so ago, an area where people never locked their doors. No trespassing signs were rare as hen’s teeth.
Knock on a farmer’s door to ask if you could hunt on his land and you got invited in for “dinner”. Even though he had never seen you before.
I was born in this county but did not live in it until I was forty years old.
Since I returned in 1968 there have been five murders in the immediate neighborhood.
Two of them my second cousin and her husband directly across the road from the house in which I was born, a common thing 86 years ago.
One half mile from our house, on our road, lives the widow of a man killed in a robbery. He was the only person of the five who was engaged in questionable activity. He had a weed patch on his property. Not where the widow lives today, but still in our neighborhood.
One mile from our house, an old retired man, deaf from operating loud equipment, was murdered in is sleep.
Without boring you with more detail, the point is that if it can happen in a community of church going decent hard working people, it can happen anywhere.
If you think your neighborhood is one where it can not happen, you are dreaming.
So statistics like this are valuable if they keep you out of the worst places, but misleading if they lead you to think your area is safe. There is no safe place.
So be wary, ready and quick.
I’m sure NJ will try harder the next time.............
I see that Lancaster PA made the list. Not surprising. And FWIW, its not the Amish Mafia that is the problem there.
Its mostly the same here in York PA. Some days, when Im watching the local news and hear about the latest shooting or stabbing, carjacking, home invasion, I feel like Im back home in Baltimore. The only time I venture into York City is when I absolutely have to like back in October when I had to go to the court house to get my expedited passport for an upcoming business trip. It was like going to a 3rd world country. And downtown York doesnt have much to offer in terms of restaurants or museums or attractions so the only reason I have to go there is when I have to.
Mind you, the surrounding areas, rural York and Lancaster counties are beautiful and there are many good and conservative people in these parts but to be fair and honest it isnt just the minorities; there are a lot of white welfare scum, mothers with multiple kids from different baby daddies, meth heads and heroin addicts who commit a good number of crimes outside of Lancaster and York Cities. I work in Manheim which is a quaint little town in the heart of Amish country but I understand that there is a very big heroin problem there.
“The current meme is fine with me. Red is for redneck and red blooded.”
For 100 years Reds have been red; I’d prefer to keep it that way myself.
True. I grew up in a very rural area in Mississippi. We had crimes even there, back in the early 60’s. Shootings, robberies, drugs, etc. weren’t real common, but they still happened..................
Rednecks have had red necks before Marx was a rug rat.
Kingsport, TN, about 2/3 of the way down the list.
The crime reports in the local newspaper read like a reality TV show, a cross between Cops and Honey Boo-Boo.
But that would be you-know-what
The common denominator in the quick drop off was the below pictured judicial contraption and a willingness to use it as needed:
Amish and the undocumented, our society’s lethal combination..
Property crime is typical near bases.
Thieves know when people deploy.
No, I think it has more to do with large numbers of young single men with large amounts of disposable income as one can find in these military bases next door to these small towns. This disposable income in the hands of young single men attracts predators who feed off this wealth. Soon after the pay raises of the mid 1960s, I observed the criminal element with their prostitution and drugs move into the areas surrounding our military bases.
Just as when you leave food laying around you'll attract rats, when you leave easy money laying around you'll attract criminals.
How did Lancaster get on the list?
The roof is a thoughtful addition. It keeps the sun wind and rain off the occupiers of the structure.
Some have their rough spots, but Saginaw is known as Sagnasty for a reason. It's a whole different type of place.
That’s your call; it was no accident that the media switched the red & blue.