24 Least Safe (and Safest) Cities in the United States

Aiken SC

Some cities in the USA are safe. Those are the places where you don't worry about locking your car doors when you go out, much less concern yourself with criminal activity. Other communities are a far cry from safe, as violent crime is, unfortunately, a reality that residents in many neighborhoods deal with daily.

Using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), we determined where violent crime is the most likely to affect you based on a per-capita basis. This includes only cities with populations of 20,000 people or more.

1. Pine Bluff, AR 

Pine Bluff AR
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

When we think of small cities or towns, many of us think “quaint.” This isn't the case in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which has a violent crime rate 340% higher than the national average. While the total crime figures may be lower than many other cities, the per-capita violent crime rate in Pine Bluff is off the charts. If someone accosts you in Pine Bluff, the statistics indicate they aren't bluffing.

2. Monroe, LA

Monroe,_Louisiana
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Monroe, LA, sits on Interstate 20 in northern Louisiana and has the feel of a thoroughfare city. With a violent crime rate that is 640% higher than the national average, Monroe is not a city that its namesake (Founding Father James Monroe) would be especially fond of.

The situation in Monroe is particularly dangerous because an influx of students enroll at the University of Louisiana-Monroe every year, and many may not be aware of the grittiness of their surroundings. 

3. Houma, LA

Houma,_Louisiana
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Located south of New Orleans in Louisiana's wetland region, Houma received a crime rating of “F” due to a total crime rate and violent crime rate well above the national average. A poverty rate near 20% helps explain why Houma's crime figures look the way they do.

4. Alexandria, LA

Alexandria,_LA
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Located in Central Louisiana, Alexandria ranks among the worst small cities to live in, and crime is a significant reason why residents lament their hometown. While Louisiana's culture is all about Mardi Gras vibes, it's tough to be celebratory in a city that recently saw the highest surge in homicides in its history. 

5. Wilmington, DE

Wilmington Delaware
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The typical American does not think “Delaware” when they hear “high crime,” but perhaps that should change. In addition to a high per-capita violent crime rate, high-profile gang activity indicates that Wilmington is not Stepford. More than 80 members of the “brutal” NorthPak gang have been convicted of heinous crimes, but a few convictions won't make crime in Wilmington disappear altogether. 

6. Texarkana, TX

Texarkana
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Located on the border with Arkansas, Texarkana has a dubious rate of 1,262 violent crimes per 100,000 residentsTexarkana's police chief took issue with his city being labeled dangerous, claiming that most of the violence in his town is of a domestic nature, not crimes perpetrated upon the general public. 

7. Petersburg, VA

Downtown_Petersburg,_Virginia
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Located in the orbit of Richmond, Petersburg, VA, consistently ranks among the most homicide-ridden communities in the state. High general crime rates tend to boil over into violent (and sometimes fatal) confrontations, which makes Petersburg a chaotic environment for those trying to make a better life for themselves.

Virginia's governor announced a Violent Crime Task Force in 2022, and Petersburg was one of the communities that will be the sharp focus of the Force.

8. Saginaw, MI

Saginaw,_Michigan
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Michigan has been hit hard by exporting American industry to other communities and nations, and Saginaw shows what happens when a community becomes financially depressed. The violent crime rate in Saginaw is 473% higher than the national average, which means you don't live in Saginaw unless you have to.

9. Youngstown, OH

Youngstown OH
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Once a hub of American manufacturing, Youngstown has become one of the depressed faces of the Rust Belt. Though its residents are known for grit and tireless work ethic, the Eastern Ohioan city grapples with crime year in and year out. Fortunately, Youngstown saw some improvement in its crime figures in 2023, and hopefully, the positive trend will continue. 

10. Flint, MI

Flint,_Michigan
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Most Americans know it's unsafe to drink the water in Flint, but they may not be aware of the general lack of safety that Flint residents face. The decay of the city's water pipes is a microcosm for Flint's overall decline, as residents have a 1 in 80 chance of being victims of violent crime. This rate is well above the average for both Michigan and the nation as a whole.

11. Salisbury, NC

Salisbury
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Located Northeast of Charlotte, Salisbury has a rich colonial history and a crime problem. Though the town has plenty of charm, mountain-fresh air, and centuries-old architecture, it also has a violent crime rate that is 139% above the national average.

12. Portsmouth, VA

Portsmouth,_VA
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Anecdotal accounts support the data that Portsmouth, VA, is one of the more crime-ridden communities in the United States. A local man who heads a community outreach program attests that rising homicide rates in Portsmouth and other Virginia communities stems, in part, from wayward youth lacking the guidance they seek. 

13. Aiken, SC

Aiken_County
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Areas of Aiken, SC, are stunning, with oak-lined roads reminiscent of the quaintest southern towns. However, it's impossible to ignore that Aiken's crime rates sit well above national averages and that South Carolina has far safer cities.

14. North Little Rock, AR

North Little Rock
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Large cities in the South are often hotbeds of crime, as the combination of big-city ills and poverty is a powder keg. North Little Rock has a violent crime rate of 233% above the national average. With Little Rock setting a new record for homicides in 2022, we can only assume that North Little Rock sees similar trends in the wrong direction. 

15. Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Image Credit: Matthew Trudeau Photography – C0/Wiki Commons.

The city known to Spring Breakers as Dirty Myrtle has a dark side. The frequent influx of intoxicated partiers doesn't promote tranquility, as its 12.16 violent crimes per 1,000 residents far outpace the state's average of 5.21 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.

The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce has pushed back against the allegations that the vacation destination is unsafe, and you can see its arguments here.

Now, we'll look at some relatively safe cities.

16. Nashua, NH (Safe)

1280px Nashua NH WP 20180612 018
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

On the flip side, there are several cities in America where you can still leave your doors unlocked at night without being considered a daredevil. Nashua, NH, tops the list of WalletHub's safest communities, as the leafy community positioned near the Merrimack River is the picture of Northeastern serenity. From its red-brick churches to its jogging trails shrouded in falling red and yellow leaves, Nashua is a (safe) sight to behold.

17. Columbia, MD (Safe) 

Woodlawn_Columbia_MD_Jan_11
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Located on the outskirts of Baltimore, Columbia is a planned community with no shortage of outdoor activities (Lake Kittamaqundi is the “centerpiece” of the community), concert venues, modern eateries, and idyllic neighborhoods. Columbia ranked first among all American communities regarding safety, meaning violent crime is of minimal concern to its residents.

18. South Burlington, VT (Safe) 

South Burlington VT
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The scenery in South Burlington is enough to stop you in your tracks—which is fine because you're unlikely to be the victim of a mugging as you gaze at Lake Champlain or Mount Mansfield. Financial safety is a prominent perk, as jobs are abundant and secure for most residents in this low-crime community. 

19. Gilbert, AZ (Safe) 

Gilbert AZ
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Gilbert ranks second-safest of all American cities based on the FBI's statistics gauging the number of crimes per 1,000 residents. This is a rare feat for a town of Gilbert's size, as it has a growing population of more than 275,000 people. With plenty of parks, preserves, and professional opportunities, Gilbert offers the semblance of the American dream that many seek.

20. Warwick, RI (Safe) 

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Located south of Providence on Greenwich Bay, Warwick is the image of Rhode Island you'll find on postcards. This community has plenty of yachts, summer homes, pristine lawns, and outdoor activities, with a violent crime rate 79% lower than the national average.

21. Portland, ME (Safe) 

Portland City in Maine
Image Credit: Bd2media – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Located on a peninsula that juts into Casco Bay, Portland is a water-loving community. The city's violent crime rate is below the national average and has seen a sustained downward trend (that's good) in the past 15-plus years. Portland's cobblestone streets, fishing boats, lighthouses, and hauls of fresh lobster are comforting sights that undoubtedly contribute to the low violent crime rate.

22. Casper, WY (Safe) 

Casper, WY
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Outdoor lovers yearning for safety should add Casper, WY, to their to-scout list. You can golf in the shadow of the Laramie Mountains, bike along Casper's many nature trails, or take your horse for a spin while leaving your wallet on the dash of your unlocked vehicle. Casper's safety ranking also benefits from a relatively vibrant job market, which helps stave off the sort of crime that results from financial desperation. 

23. Yonkers, NY (Safe) 

Yonkers NY
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The further you drive away from New York City, the further you get from the chaos that makes many large cities unsafe. Yonkers typifies this truism, as it is nestled along the Hudson River in relative tranquility. Highly-rated schools reflect a well-endowed tax base, and Yonkers has all the trappings of a storybook American community. Many residents say that the police presence in Yonkers is “very visible and very responsive,” which is an added perk in a neighborhood known for its relative safety.

24. Burlington, VT (Safe) 

South Burlington VT
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Resting on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington offers a rare combination of eye-catching scenery and cutting-edge industry. This makes for a relatively secure, satisfied population. That said, Burlington has seen a rise in firearm-related violence, so this ranking is subject to change if the trend continues. 

Author: Sam Mire

Title: Popular Culture and Film Writer

Expertise: Film and Television, Life Advice, Comedic Writing, Movies, DIY Handiwork, Books, Current Events and Popular Culture

Bio:

Sam Mire is a freelance writer with over seven years' experience writing about entertainment, global events, American law, and sports. With a Journalism degree from the University of South Florida, Sam focuses on popular culture, film and television, and general life advice in his role for Wealth of Geeks.