Despite the news headlines, homicide rates in the US are actually on the decline. At least, they are in most cities. Some cities are, unfortunately, falling further and further behind the trend, both in terms of homicide rates and general crime levels. In some of the worst offending cities, the not so lucky residents stand a higher than 1 in 40 chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime (not to mention having all their worldly goods stolen). To check out which cities rank as the most dangerous in the US, read on.
20. Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis’s population may be booming, but so is its crime rate. The city of 863,0001 residents has experienced an upsurge in both its property crime and violent crime rates, to the end that residents now stand a 1 in 74 chance of becoming a victim of either assault, rape, theft, or something similarly sinister. According to Neighborhood Scout, Indianapolis ranks as having one of the highest crime rates of any city in America, regardless of size.
19. Stockton, California
California may be loved by tourists the world over, but the residents that are there for the long term are all too aware of the ugly underbelly of some of its cities. Stockton is a prime example: since the city dramatically declared bankruptcy in 2012, its resources to fight crime seem to have taken a major hit, at least if its latest crime figures are anything to go by. The most recent crime stats reveal that residents have a one in 70 chance of becoming the victim of either a violent or property crime, with the incidence of auto theft being particularly concerning ( as a general rule of thumb, if you start the year with a car, there’s a 1 in 135 chance you’ll end the year without one).
18. Chester, Pennsylvania
Move to Chester, PA and your chances of becoming a victim of property crime stand at 1 in 20. Its population of 34,077 also experiences some of the highest rates of violent crime in the US, with the chances of one of their number becoming the subject of rape, murder, non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault standing at a frankly frightening 1 in 62.
17. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a lot going for it: its cultural events draw thousands of tourists into the city each year, while its booming economy and several universities lend a cosmopolitan, vibrant air to proceedings. Unfortunately, it’s not all happy news; while tourists may get to enjoy the city’s stunning waterfront and numerous attractions, its residents face a much uglier proposition in the shape of a violent crime rate that ranks as one of the highest in America.
16. Kansas City, Missouri
A few years ago. Kansas City made a splash in the news with its boasts of how well it had bought its homicide rate down, but it’s far from a pretty picture in the Missouri metropolis today. As The Kansas City Star reports, violent crime is still startlingly high, and while homicide rates haven’t actually increased over the past 2 years, they’re showing no signs of decreasing either. The most at-risk demographic is young, black men, with Ken Novak, professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, painting a revealing picture of the city with his comment “It’s safer to be deployed as a soldier in Iraq than to be a young black man in Kansas City.”
15. Rockford, Illinois
The third-largest city in Illinois comes in next. While it may not have the same high homicide rates as cities such as Chicago (in fact, its homicide rates are fairly reasonable for a city of this size, with only 17 reported in 2017), its still far from a pretty picture when we consider the overall violent crime rate, which stands at 17 reported incidents per 10,000 residents. The overall outlook is made even uglier by an unemployment rate of 7.5-percent and a poverty rate of 22.7-percent.
14. Birmingham Alabama
While the crime rate may be down 40% since the mid-1990s, the startling drug rate and high poverty levels in Birmingham, Alabama still contribute to a crime rate that’s far above the national average. According to Business Insider, the city suffers 86.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents, while according to Best Places, the property crime rate isn’t doing any better, consisting of 89 compared to the national average of 35.4.
13. Nashville, Tennessee
It may be a haven for music lovers, but Nashville, Tennessee is also something of a hotspot for homicide. According to 24/7 Wall ST, so bad is the situation that the staff at the Oasis Center of Nashville, a foundation for at-risk youth, consider homicide to be an epidemic, while Metro Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford believe the majority of murders are completed by people who know each other and are engaged in “risky behavior”.
12. Detroit, Michigan
After the financial crisis of 2008 triggered the withdrawal of some key auto manufactures from Detroit, the urban center of Michigan has never quite recovered. In the reverse of what’s happening across most major metropolis, the population is decreasing rapidly, with swathes of the middle classes leaving for greener pastures. As a result, Detroit’s poverty rate now stands at a depressing 39-percent, while its unemployment rate of 9.3-percent is no prettier. As is so often the case, the low number of job opportunities is accompanied by a correspondingly high crime rate; violent crime sits at 2,057 per 100,000 residents, with an average of 267 homicides per year.
11. Chicago, Illinois
It had to be here somewhere, didn’t it? Infamous around the world for its dangerous streets, Chicago certainly has enough by way of violent crime to justify a place on our listing. That said, it’s not all grim: despite the headlines, homicide rates are actually on the decline. In 2016, the murder rate was 771 (the highest the city has ever reported). A year later, the number was down to 650; still a huge number admittedly, and far higher than most similarly sized cities (and even much larger ones like New York and Los Angeles) but representative of a significant enough drop to warrant optimism.
10. Anchorage, Alaska
It may be the largest state in the US, but it’s also one of the least and the most sparsely populated. Some have posited that it’s this sparse, scattered populous that contributes to the high crime rate: in densely populated areas, police can get to a troublesome situation in time to stop the worst happening. In Alaska, it can take the police so long to reach a crime scene the problem has already escalated to the point of no return by the time they arrive. In Anchorage itself, most of the problems are triggered by drug and gang violence, which 24 Wall Street blames on the chronic underfunding and availability of drug addiction and mental health care facilities in the area.
9. Baltimore, Maryland
If you’ve ever watched The Wire, you’ll be all too familiar with the violent, corrupt state of the fictionalized Baltimore. What you may not be aware of is just how closely fiction mirrors reality in Maryland’s largest city. The unemployment rate of 6.1% is a major problem and a contributor to a myriad of other problems, starting with a poverty rate of 23.1 percent, ending with 342 homicides per year (pretty much one for every day of the year), and taking in the third-highest rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people in the US, and 2,027 property crimes to every 100,000 residents, along the way.
8. Pueblo, Colorado
Colorado… a state of upscale resorts, stunning scenery, and, as it transpires, some pretty appalling crime stats, In Pueblo, a relatively small city of just 100,000 residents, crime is almost as high as the Rocky’s, with an average of 1,052 violent crimes per 100,000 people and 6,167 property crimes per 100,000. Considering how small the city is, that’s a pretty astonishing number and one that fully explains its position as the eighth most dangerous city to live in the US.
7. Chattanooga, Tennessee
A cross between Memphis and Nashville, Chattanooga may have a lot fewer visitors than either of the aforementioned tourist hotspots, but it’s up there with the worst of them when it comes to crime figures. When it comes to property crime, the stats are damning, with 5,985 reported incidents per 100,000 residents. It’s a similarly bleak picture when it comes to violent crime, with 1,066 incidents per 100,000 residents. As 24 Wall Street notes, homicides are at almost epidemic levels; while the trend in most major cities is for a decline, the number of homicides in Chattanooga is actually increasing on a year-on-year basis. Whatever the future holds for Chattanooga, it’s not looking particularly bright at the moment.
6. Oakland, California
It may be seen as the cheaper alternative to San Francisco, but the affordable housing in Oakland, California comes at a cost- namely, a depressingly high crime rate. According to Neighborhood Scout, the crime index for Oakland (wherein 100 is considered the safest) is a pitifully low 1, which translates to residents having a 1 in 76 chance of becoming a victim of crime. The most recent crime stats reveal that of the 425195 residents, 69 have been the victim of homicide, 403 the victim of rape, 2730 the victim of a robbery, and a further 2401 the victim of an assault. The end result is a community that ranks as one of the most dangerous in California.
5. Memphis, Tennessee
Some quick facts about Memphis, Tennessee: 1 in 50 have a chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime (compared to only 1 in 153 in Memphis as a whole). In the past year, there have been 181 murders, 597 rapes, 3459 robberies, and 8853 assaults. 1 in 16, meanwhile, have a chance of becoming the victim of a property crime (compared to 1 in 34 in Tennessee as a whole). In the past year, there have been 9500 burglaries, 27824 thefts, and 4040 motor vehicle thefts. End result? It’s one of the most dangerous cities in the US to live.
4. St Louis, Missouri
St Louis may be famed for its blues music, but increasingly, it’s gaining just as much of a reputation for its dangerous streets. 1 in 48 of the city’s residents is at risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime, while a shocking 1 in 16 stands a chance of becoming the victim of a property crime. The most recent records show an annual homicide rate of 205, which ranks as one of the highest of any city in the US. Rates of other violent crimes are similarly disturbing, with 289 rapes, 1944 robberies and 4023 assaults occluding annually.
3. Monroe, Louisiana
Your chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime in Monroe, Louisiana? 1 in 44, a figure that takes it to the third most dangerous city in the US. Its residents fare no better when it comes to property crime, with each of its relatively small populous of 48371 facing an almost comically high 1 in 12 chance of becoming the victim of a burglary, theft, or motor vehicle theft.
2. East St Louis, Illinois
If you fancy setting up camp in East St Louis in Illinois, beware: danger lurks on every corner. While your chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in Illinois is high enough (1 in 228), move to East St Louis and this increases to a jaw dropping 1 in 36 chance. If you do just about manage to escape becoming the victim of murder, rape, robbery, or assault, then don’t celebrate too soon- there’s a 1 in 45 chance you’ll become a victim of a burglary, a theft, or a motor vehicle theft instead.
1. Bessemer, Alabama
If you see a score of 0 on a crime index (wherein 100 is the highest, and 0 is the lowest), you know you’re in for a rough read when it comes to the offending city’s crime stats. And in the case of Bessemer, Alabama, that’s certainly the case. In the past year, the city has experienced 787 violent crimes (with a crime rate of 29.83 per 1000 residents, and 2581 property crimes (with a resulting overall crime rate of 97.82 per 1000 residents). If that doesn’t seem high to you, compare the number of crimes per square mile with the average for the state: the average for Alabama is 15 crimes per square mile, while the average for Bessemer is a staggering 84. The sum total of these stats: the number one most dangerous city in the US.