Safety is one of our primary instincts, and living in a town where you know you are not safe means living in a constant state of fear. But exactly how dangerous can a dangerous city be? And what are the most dangerous cities in the US? These are the questions we will try to answer.
There is a broad spectrum in crime, but for clean-cut stats, it can be divided into two categories: violent crimes and property crimes. Violent crimes include murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, and other similar crimes, while property crimes are theft, burglary, and other relevant crimes.
We can gauge the most dangerous cities in the US based on the rate of these crimes in a city. But it’s also essential to understand what these stats do and do not show and the most recurring elements in these crime-ridden cities.
There is a very relevant quote in the movie Batman – “Create enough hunger, and everyone becomes a criminal.” It indicates a very simple and basic correlation between poverty and crime. There is enough historical precedence to back that notion. There is almost always more crime in cities with more poverty and income inequality.
The crime rate stats do not show the divide between the city’s different neighborhoods. Like anywhere else in the world, there are areas with higher crime rates than the rest of the city and with practically no crime.
There may be neighborhoods with a lot of drug peddling, which is a precursor for more property and violent crimes. The crime rates in such areas might be through the roof. And just like areas with more crime, there would be places in the city that see very low criminal activities. So it is prudent not to paint the whole city with the same color (red, for danger).
Most Dangerous Cities in the US
Now let’s look at the ten most dangerous cities in the US.
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Detroit, Michigan
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Oakland, California
This list is based on the crime rate in the city, both violent and property crimes. Also, all the crime rates mentioned would be per thousand people. The national violent crime rate is 4.49, while the property crime rate is 27.11.
1. St. Louis, Missouri
Number one is the small city of St. Louis, the least populated city on this list, with around 308,626 citizens. Missouri is one of the 15 poorest states based on the median household income. And there is an even broader gap regarding the median income of St. Louis. At $41,441, it’s much lesser than the state and over $20,000 less than the national average. The poverty rate is also very high, at 25%.
The violent crime rate in the city (per thousand people) is a daunting number of 20.82, almost 21, much more than the country. More than 92% of violent crimes are robbery and assault. The property crime rate of 60.41 is more than double that of the state and the nation. Around 68.8% of property crimes are theft, and the rest are vehicle theft and burglary.
2. Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the largest city in the state, with a population of 673,103. The motor city of Detroit was once the global automotive capital. But whatever prosperity the city had, it seems that it may be gone now. Detroit’s poverty rate of 37.9% and the median household income of $27,838 is around half the national average.
Detroit saw one of the worst waves of crime in the 80s. Though things are considerably better now, the numbers are still not leaning in Detroit’s favor. The violent crime rate of 20.57 is just a bit shy of the number one spot, though the property crime rate is relatively lower at 45.41. The bulk of violent crimes is made up of assault. But the number of rapes is also relatively higher, making up 5.1% of the total violent crimes. Burglary and motor vehicle theft account for around 26% of the overall property crimes, while theft makes up the rest.
3. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, also known as the “Charm City,” is the largest city in Maryland. It’s also called the city of neighborhoods, but not all are very safe. The current population of the city is 611,648. The violent crime rate in the city is 20.27, about 4.5 times the national average. About 94% of the total violent crimes are assault and robbery. The property crime rate is 49.28, mostly theft.
The economy is not very flattering either, but in terms of the poverty rate (22.4%) and the median household income ($47,131), it’s in better shape than Detroit and St. Louis. Ironically, Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country.
4. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is one of the ten least educated states in the country. Memphis, the birthplace of Rock n Roll, has a population of 652,231. The poverty rate in the city is relatively high, at 26.9%, and the median household income is $39,333.
The violent crime rate is 20.03, with murder occupying 1.3% of the total violent crimes. The property crime rate is one of the highest on this list, at 62.98. In property crimes, the ratio of burglary to theft is higher than the national ratio. For every three theft cases, there is one burglary in Memphis, as opposed to the country, where there is one burglary case for every four theft cases.
5. Kansas City, Missouri
It isn’t the Kansas Dorothy was talking about, but if it were, she might have preferred to live in the safety of Emerald City. Populated with 488,825 people, Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri. Compared to many other cities on this list, the property crime rate in the city is relatively low, at 45.44. However, the violent crime rate is still quite high, at 17.24. Rape makes up about 5.3% of violent crimes, while murder makes up 1.7%.
Kansas City has a relatively high median household income of $51,330, which is still quite low compared to the national average. The poverty rate of 17.3% is low compared to others on the list.
6. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The city of Milwaukee is famous for its beer and baseball. It has a population of 595,365, and a staggering 27.4% of the people live below the poverty line. The median household income is also low at $39,098. The unemployment rate of Milwaukee is also higher than the national rate.
Milwaukee has the lowest crime rate, 37.92, on this list. Theft, as usual, is the most common property crime, making up almost half of the total property crimes. The other half is equally distributed between burglary and vehicle theft. The violent crime rate is 15.97, which is nearly five times more than that of the state of Wisconsin. Robbery incidents in Milwaukee are relatively more than in other cities.
7. Cleveland, Ohio
The forest city of Cleveland houses a population of 385,552. The poverty rate in Cleveland is 35.2%, which is way too much, even for this list. The unemployment rate of 4.6% is also high relative to the national average. The median household income is just $28,974.
The property crime rate is 49.16, and the violent crime rate is 15.57. The violent crime, especially, is a stark comparison to the state. In violent crimes, rape is unusually high, making up around 8.3% of the total violent crimes. As for property crimes, there are twice as many chances of your house getting burglarized than your vehicle getting stolen.
8. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Belonging to one of the poorest states in the country, Albuquerque is home to 558,558 people. The median income of the most populous city in the state is 50,456, which is higher than the state. The poverty rate is 18.2%, and the unemployment rate is also high, at 4.8%.
This city has the unfortunate pleasure of topping this list in property crime, with a brutal rate of 73.66. It should be noted that the state of New Mexico also has a higher property crime rate than the national average. Theft is the most common type of property crime in the city. The rate of violent crime is 13.69. About 38% of all violent crimes committed in the city are robberies. For comparison, about 24% of the total violent crimes committed in the country are robberies.
9. Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the most populous city on this list and the 17th most populous in the country. The crossroads of America are home to 857,386 people. It is also home to one of the largest numbers of memorials and monuments, second only to Washington, DC. The city’s unemployment rate is lower than average, but the poverty rate is still high, at 20.1%. The median income is $47,225.
Indianapolis has one of the lowest property and violent crime rates on this list. The 13.34 violent crime rate is about 62% assault, about 30% robbery, and about 5.8% rape. The property crime rate is 44.12. The overall rate of property crime in the state of Indiana is higher than in the country.
10. Oakland, California
Finally, the least dangerous and the only western city on this list is the city of Oakland. With a population of 425,204, Oakland is the 8th most populated city in California. It’s also the only city on this list with a higher median household income ($70,577) than the national average. But the poverty rate is also high at 18.7%.
The violent crime rate in “Oaktown” is 12.99. It’s the only city on this list with several robberies, higher than the number of assaults. Robbery makes up almost half of all violent crimes. The percentage of rape is also relatively high, making up about 7.2% of total violent crimes. The property crime rate is pretty high, at 61.2%. And the second most common property crime in Oakland is vehicle theft, unlike burglary in most cities.
Some common questions about the most dangerous cities in the US are:
What is the most dangerous city in the world?
The capital of Venezuela, Caracas, is the most dangerous city in the world. It has the highest crime index and the worst safety index rating. Though there aren’t any official statistics from the government, the 2018 estimated murder rate is 1 per every 1,000 people.
What is the safest city in America in 2019?
In 2019, many studies found Columbia, Maryland, the safest city in America. Some sources also lean towards Alexandria, Virginia, and Virginia Beach, Virginia, as the safest cities this year.
Is Chicago the most dangerous city?
No. Chicago is a dangerous city, but not the most dangerous. Your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Chicago are 1 in 91.
The list of the most dangerous cities in the US is not supposed to scare people off those cities. It’s to give you an idea about crime statistics and warn you about the dangers. As we have already stated, even in the most dangerous city, there would be areas where crime would be significantly lower. Similarly, there might be neighborhoods in the safest cities where crime runs rampant.
While you can’t do much about the stats and the overall safety of the city you live in, you can adopt some good security habits. Don’t hang out with shoddy characters in places with bad reputations; use your common sense, stay alert of your surroundings, and install security systems in your home. You will be surprised how much you will even the odds for yourself by adopting a few good safety habits.
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