Ranking the Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.
Oakland, Chicago and Detroit have deadly reputations, but are they actually the most violent cities in the U.S.? (Read on to find out.)
If you’re thinking of making a move to a new city, make sure you know the facts before finalizing your plans. Based on FBI statistics on violent crime rate per 100,000 residents, here’s the ranking for the most dangerous cities in the U.S.
30. Oklahoma City, OK
Famous for its cowboy lifestyle, Oklahoma City is Oklahoma's capital and largest city. The city is also known for its high amount of violent crimes, which included 81 homicides, 1,120 robberies and 3,429 aggravated assaults in 2017.
Oklahoma City is home to the notorious Juárez Cartel, but the Sinaloa Cartel has also been spotted around, which would increase the potential danger. Gang rivalry is also a problem. Law enforcement claims a combination of poverty, low parental involvement and homelessness contribute to high crime rates.
Violent Crime Rate: 787.34 per 100,000
29. Tucson, AZ
If you asked Tucsonans to describe their city, they would most likely mention the hot weather and the University of Arizona. However, the city is also known for its dangers. Property crimes are common in Tucson, including vehicle thefts, car break-ins, burglaries and bike thefts.
Violent crime is also an issue. The city logged 1,431 robberies and 2,293 aggravated assaults in 2017. Firearm-related fatality rates are high in Tucson too. Some researchers blame the frequent crime on the city's struggle to achieve economic growth and the lack of community
Violent Crime Rate: 801.77 per 100,000
28. Newark, NJ
Panhandlers can get aggressive in Newark, especially near Penn Station Newark. Unfortunately, some crimes get much worse. For instance, the city reported 1,280 aggravated assaults and 1,070 robberies. Law enforcement noted crime rate increases in the Springfield-Belmont neighborhood.
Some areas in Newark, such as North 5th Street and 6th Avenue, are plagued with drug trafficking and gangs. Known drug dealers and violent criminals threaten people with weapons to gain control.
Violent Crime Rate: 896.45 per 100,000
27. Atlanta, GA
In the past 30 years, Atlanta often ranked as one of the top five most dangerous cities due to violence. The city has worked hard to improve public safety, dropping Atlanta's ranking to No. 31 in 2009. However, the city still has its fair share of crime.
In 2017, the city charted 1,413 robberies and 2,730 aggravated assaults. Atlanta also faces problems with drug distribution and imports from Mexico, human trafficking and gangs. In fact, the police logged 192 gangs in Atlanta in 2015.
Violent Crime Rate: 935.72 per 100,000
26. Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati is called the "Chili Capital of America," but it's also known for its violent crime. The city's police department even starred on TLC's Police Women of Cincinnati and A&E's The First 48. In 2017, the city recorded 1,196 thefts and 1,275 aggravated assaults.
The large city also has an illegal drug issue. In congested areas, thieves are known to pickpocket people. Neighborhoods with the highest crime rates include East Westwood, Downtown, South Fairmount, North Fairmount and English Woods.
Violent Crime Rate: 947.12 per 100,000
25. Philadelphia, PA
Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia, is home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall — the iconic location where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed — and many historical sites related to the American Revolution. It's also an area with a lot of active crime. The city reported 6,026 robberies and 7,406 aggravated assaults.
Throughout its history, Philadelphia has had many notable cases, including "The Friday Night Bank Robber" (1972-2002) and the Center City Rapist (1997-1999). Today, the districts with the most crime are north, west and southwest of the city center.
Violent Crime Rate: 947.58 per 100,000
24. Washington, D.C.
The U.S. capital, Washington D.C., is the location of the White House, U.S. Capitol building and the Supreme Court. The 1990s was one of the most violent decades for the city. In fact, D.C. was known as the "murder capital" in 1991 after experiencing 482 homicides.
Violent crimes have dropped in the city, but Washington D.C. is still considered one of the most dangerous cities in the country. In 2017, the city logged 2,351 robberies and 3,674 aggravated assaults.
Violent Crime Rate: 948.74 per 100,000
23. North Las Vegas, NV
North Las Vegas is the first city on this list to exceed 1,000 on its violent crime rate (1,014.69 per 100,000). The average violent crime rate in the U.S. was 383 per 100,000 in 2017, which makes this city's rate nearly three times the national average.
In 2017, the city reported 22 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 565 thefts and 1,758 aggravated assaults. According to Neighborhood Scout, a person's chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in North Las Vegas is 1 in 98, while the number is only 1 in 180 in the entire state of Nevada.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,014.69 per 100,000
22. Buffalo, NY
Found in upstate New York, Buffalo is known for its City Hall, Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. In 2016, the city's violent crime rate was the 15th-worst in the country. However, the crime rate has consistently decreased, especially since the 1990s.
Gang sweeps have helped lower the murder rate, but police are finding it challenging to reduce the murder rate even more due to the city's poverty. Almost 30% of Buffalo's population lives below the poverty level. In 2017, the city charted 857 robberies and 1,572 aggravated assaults.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,019.25 per 100,000
21. Wichita, KS
"The Air Capital of the World," Wichita, has mass produced aircraft since the 1920s. The city is also the birthplace of White Castle and Pizza Hut. Unfortunately, the area is also recognized for its increasing crime rates, with a violent crime rate that is almost three times as high as the national average.
Numbers for shootings, murders and aggravated assaults have all gone up. The city logged 599 thefts and 2,982 aggravated assaults in 2017. Police blame the soaring crime rates on drugs, gangs and domestic disputes.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,022.29 per 100,000
20. Baton Rouge, LA
Well-known for its beautiful architecture, Baton Rouge is home to the Magnolia Mound Plantation, the LSU Rural Life Museum and the USS Kidd — a WWII destroyer transformed into a museum. However, Baton Rouge also has a not so pleasant side.
In 2017, the city recorded 87 murders, 868 robberies and 1,280 aggravated assaults. According to The Advocate, the majority of murders occurred in North Baton Rouge. Violent crime is so bad in the neighborhood, businesses won't even set up shop there, which further hurts the neighborhood.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,026.81 per 100,000
19. Tulsa, OK
The oil-rich city of Tulsa earned the nickname the "oil capital of the world" in the 20th century. Locals also call it the "Birthplace of Route 66." Unfortunately, the city also has a history of high crime rates fueled by gang violence.
In 2017, Tulsa logged 964 robberies and 2,757 aggravated assaults. Much of the crime is concentrated in North Tulsa. However, the south side of Tulsa also has its fair share of crime, including auto thefts, purse snatchings and home invasions.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,040.83 per 100,000
18. Houston, TX
Houston plays a key role in space exploration, air conditioning technology, petroleum research, capital punishment and the international energy industry. The diverse city also has a problem with high crime rates. In 2017, the city recorded 9,773 robberies and 14,201 aggravated assaults.
The Houston Chronicle claims Houston is home to two of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation: Sunnyside and the area around Dowling and McGowen. The city is also one of the largest hubs for drug and human trafficking in the U.S.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,095.23 per 100,000
17. Chicago, IL
Chicago often gains attention for its high murder rates, with 2016 as its deadliest year with 762 homicides. The city still leads the country (on this list) for the highest number of murders in 2017 with 653 killings. (However, when it comes to murder rates per 100,000 people per year, another city takes first place.)
On this list, Chicago also takes the top spot for the number robberies (11,887) and aggravated assaults (15,435). Chicago police believe 5,000 to 10,000 thugs and drug dealers in the city are responsible for the majority of the violence.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,098.86 per 100,000
The Most Violent Weekend of 2019 in Chicago
In August, Chicago experienced its most violent weekend of 2019. Between August 2 and August 4, violent crimes injured 52 people and claimed the lives of 10. Most of the violence was gang-related. According to the police department, crime increases during the hot summer months.
The bloodshed is an extreme example of what the city has been up against. There are many documentaries and films that focus on violence in Chicago. In fact, Spike Lee directed the 2015 film Chi-Raq, a comedy-drama that concentrates on the ongoing gang violence in the city.
16. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis has a great reputation as a city for art and culture. It also gained a bad reputation as one of the most violent places in the country. In 2017, the city recorded 1,819 thefts and 2,239 aggravated assaults.
Neighborhoods such as Midtown Minneapolis and The Phillips suffer from the highest crime rates in the city. The most violent crimes are committed in north Minneapolis, west of the Mississippi River.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,101.27 per 100,000
15. New Orleans, LA
Also known as the "Big Easy," New Orleans is famous for its Mardi Gras celebrations and French Quarter. Crime is a continuous problem in New Orleans due to lack of jobs and the rise of drugs in the city. Mayoral races typically focus on violent crime rates as a significant issue.
From 2000 to 2011, the city was called the "Murder Captial of America" for having the highest murder rate in the country. In 2017, the city reported 1,308 robberies and 2,417 aggravated assaults.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,121.41 per 100,000
14. Nashville, TN
With attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Music Row district, it’s no surprise that Nashville is the capital of country music. However, some areas are rampant in crime, including prostitution, drug activity and robberies.
Nashville has a violent crime rate more than three times the national average. The city experienced 2,046 thefts and 5,034 aggravated assaults in 2017. Metro Police say the majority of the killings involved people who knew each other.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,203.29 per 100,000
13. Anchorage, AK
Logging 778 robberies and 2,368 aggravated assaults, Anchorage became the 13th worst city for violent crimes in the nation in 2017. The city’s crime rate is higher than the entire state of Alaska (524.2 per 100,000).
Experts believe Anchorage's rise in crime is fueled by the opioid epidemic and drug and gang violence. To solve the rising crime rates, Alaska is improving access to treatments for drug addiction and mental health issues.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,291.09 per 100,000
12. San Bernardino, CA
San Bernardino is known for its millionaire residents, yet the city also suffers from a high poverty level. San Bernardino's poverty rate hangs at 30.6%. Experts believe poverty and crime go hand in hand, so it's not surprising that the city is also one of the country's most violent places.
San Bernardino logged 877 robberies and 1,736 aggravated assaults in 2017. Hoping to reduce its alarmingly high crime rates, the city launched the Violence Intervention Program in 2018.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,291.09 per 100,000
11. Oakland, CA
In 2019, National Geographic listed Oakland as a must-see city on its travel's best trips list, highly noting the city's Jack London Square and Temescal Alley. Unfortunately, the city's staggering levels of poverty, drug crimes and gang violence continue to damage its reputation among residents and the rest of the country.
In 2017, the city was plagued with 2,676 robberies and 2,376 aggravated assaults. The majority of crimes occur in east and west Oakland neighborhoods. According to Forbes, the city holds the top spot for violent robberies in the nation.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,299.32 per 100,000
Oakland’s Gang Violence
One of the most infamous events in the history of Oakland is the death of Black Panther Huey P. Newton. Newton co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966. The organization's goals were to make life better in black communities and to stop police brutality. In 1989, Newton became a victim of gang violence.
The crime rate has since dropped in Oakland, but gang violence is still a major problem in the city. The violence also affects innocent bystanders. Some residents and leaders still aren't impressed with the numbers, noting a recent rise of violence in downtown and West Oakland.
10. Indianapolis, IN
Poverty, substance abuse, mental illness and easy access to firearms are contributing factors to the violent crime in Indianapolis. The city reported 3,485 robberies and 7,307 aggravated assaults in 2017, ranking 10th among the country's most dangerous places.
Each year, the crime rate in Indianapolis gets deadlier. In 2017, Indianapolis logged 156 murders, setting the third consecutive year of record violence. The city broke the record again in 2018, recording 159 killings.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,333.96 per 100,000
9. Albuquerque, NM
Previously known as the "War Zone," the International District of Albuquerque is the most violent area in the city due to gang violence. Drug deals and used needles flood the streets in the area. It's also ranked as the most terrible neighborhood for raising young children.
Theft is also a serious problem in Albuquerque. In 2016, the city logged almost 2,000 robberies, and in 2017, the number increased to 2,930. In addition, Albuquerque recorded 4,213 aggravated assaults that same year.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,369.14 per 100,000
8. Stockton, CA
In 2012, Stockton was officially broke and made headlines after declaring bankruptcy. Of course, the city being as poor as the citizens made the already high violent crime rate even worse. The city was forced to cut back on public safety, including the police, at a time when it was most needed.
Now, the city is fiscally healthy again, and the overall crime trend has gone down in recent years. However, the city is still troubled with one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. In 2017, Stockton recorded 1,208 robberies and 2,962 aggravated assaults.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,414.56 per 100,000
7. Cleveland, OH
Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it's also a place riddled with violent crime. The lack of access to jobs and high rates of poverty keep the violence alive in Cleveland. In fact, 30.6% of residents live in poverty, and 4.4% don't have jobs.
Fighting violent crime is difficult when the city is in economic decline. Cleveland logged 2,697 robberies and 2,698 aggravated assaults in 2017. The city also experiences continuous problems involving drug-related activities.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,556.30 per 100,000
6. Milwaukee, WI
Famous for its universities, Fortune 500 companies and beautiful shoreline along Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin. However, it's also the second poorest U.S. city. As a result, robbers and muggers run rampant in some areas.
In 2017, the city recorded 2,919 thefts and 6,036 aggravated assaults. One of Milwaukee's most dangerous neighborhoods is Metcalfe Park, located on the city's north side.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,596.10 per 100,000
5. Kansas City, MO
Famous for its jazz culture, Kansas City-style barbecue and craft breweries, Kansas City is full of diversity and culture. However, the city still fares poorly when it comes to violent crime. Experts believe loose gun laws and available firearms have led to the city’s alarmingly high number of homicides and violent crimes.
Kansas City experienced 1,858 robberies and 5,909 aggravated assaults in 2017. Drug-related crimes and muggings are common on Prospect Avenue and Troost Avenue. Gangs and gun violence are also big problems for the city.
Violent Crime Rate: 1,724.31 per 100,000
4. Memphis, TN
Memphis is home to the blues of Beale Street — and once home to Elvis for most of his life. However, the city also has a not so bright side. For decades, Memphis has suffered from a criminal culture of gangs, drugs and guns.
In fact, the city has reported 182 gangs with 8,400 members in the region. Gangs were involved in one-third of the 228 murders in 2016. In 2017, Memphis recorded 3,457 thefts and 8,849 aggravated assaults.
Violent Crime Rate: 2,003.10 per 100,000
3. Baltimore, MD
Reporting 5,879 robberies and 5,827 aggravated assaults in 2017, Baltimore is one of the top five most violent cities in the country. Its crime rate ranks very high above the national average. In fact, the city's robbery rate (958.71 per 100,000 people) is almost 10 times the national rate (98 per 100,000 people).
Police saw an uptick in violent crime after the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015. That year alone, the city recorded 344 slayings, with shootings responsible for 90% of the killings. Baltimore is also troubled with poverty, drug use and deaths by drug use.
Violent Crime Rate: 2,027.90 per 100,000
Why Baltimore Has a Crime Problem
Experts say there are many factors that contribute to Baltimore's violent crime problem. For a long time, the city had an infamous reputation for having an active drug market. The city also suffers from highly segregated neighborhoods. Another factor is the scandals that have plagued the Baltimore police force.
Even worse, crime experts note that Baltimore’s leaders have failed the citizens because they don't have a clear plan to improve the city. Some experts believe the city's leaders have never had a plan of action. Baltimore's long and devastating history has inspired many storylines in crime shows, including The Wire, The Corner, and Homicide.
2. Detroit, MI
Motor City — Detroit — is often called the No. 1 most violent city in the country. However, in 2017, Detroit was bumped to second place by another city. Since the 1970s, the city has experienced high levels of violent crimes due to gang-related activities.
The city recorded 2,639 robberies and 10,193 aggravated assaults in 2017. To make matters worse, Detroit police note that almost 70% of murders go unsolved. Crime is a huge problem in Detroit, but many residents refuse to "snitch" or report criminal activity, making it incredibly difficult to solve cases.
Violent Crime Rate: 2,056.67 per 100,000
1. St. Louis, MO
Taking the top spot as the most dangerous city in the country, St. Louis has faced a rise in crime since the 1960s. Violent crimes, murder and drug trafficking have plagued the city. St. Louis recorded 1,944 thefts and 4,023 aggravated assaults in 2017.
Based on its homicide rate of 66.07 per 100,000 people, St. Louis ranks as the murder capital of America. In fact, the city has had the highest murder rate since 2014. About two-thirds of all murders occur in north St. Louis.
Violent Crime Rate: 2,082.29 per 100,000
Now that you’ve read up on the most dangerous cities in the country, are you curious about which cities are the safest? Below are the top three safest cities in the nation.
3. Gilbert, AZ
Previously known as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World," Gilbert was once a large farming community. Today, the population is rapidly changing and growing. In fact, the city is remodeling its downtown to draw in younger families. Gilbert is ranked as one of the safest cities to raise a child.
Locals believe the crime rate is low because neighbors look out for each other. It's common to see kids playing in the front yard. With such a low crime rate, Gilbert has attracted many businesses eager to set up shop. In 2018, the city logged 51 robberies and 112 aggravated assaults.
Violent Crime Rate: 85 per 100,000
2. Naperville, IL
Naperville is a welcoming and beautiful suburb with more than 130 parks. The city boasts excellent employment opportunities, acclaimed schools, nice neighborhoods and a wonderful public library system. Naperville is often listed as one of the best cities in the U.S. to live and raise children.
The city recorded 33 robberies and 80 aggravated assaults in 2018. Niche.com and Homesnacks.com rank Naperville as the No. 1 safest city in America, but a different city takes the top spot on our list.
Violent Crime Rate: 62 per 100,000
1. Irvine, CA
According to the city's website, Irvine has earned the "Safest City" title for 13 consecutive years. The city logged 55 robberies and 66 aggravated assaults in 2018. What is the city's secret to a peaceful coexistence? Officials believe it's a collaborative effort.
The Irvine Police Department works with residents and business community partners to prevent and solve crimes. Experts believe the city's low poverty rate and highly educated and professional population are factors.
Violent Crime Rate: 52 per 100,000