City and State Crime Rates-Most Dangerous Cities

Crime Scene Tape And Hand Cuffs Over American Flag

Be sure to see an overview of crime in America at .

Crime Rankings for Cities and States—Most Dangerous Cities

There are two kinds of readers that come to this site. Some are interested in complexity and options regarding crime in cities, states and countries. They want to see all sources and come to their own conclusions

Others want the most direct  sources  ranking cities as to dangerousness/safety.  They come to the site expecting one list that solves all their questions about dangerousness. That’s not going to happen; there is “no” official-definitive list.

A wide variety of government agencies, universities and commercial sites create comparisons and all are going to differ  depending on what’s measured. We get e-mails asking why Cleveland (or the city of your choice) is on one list of top ten cities and not on others.

Again, we point out that it all depends on what’s measured as to the results you get. Some cities are in the top ten in one list and then are ranked much lower in another.

Please note that it’s nearly impossible to compare crime in cities or states or metro areas with any real sense of accuracy (explained at the bottom of this article) so explore all sources with caution.

Note that some studies from commercial sources are harshly criticized by criminologists for what they choose to measure. We recommend that you look at everything available, acknowledge what was measured and come to your own conclusions.

For those who want the most direct answer as to cities and crime,  see the following links:

The following are commercial publications and news operations. Note that some criminologists have issues with the interpretation of data: There are four tables from the Georgia State University providing homicide rates by city. Generally speaking (but not always)  homicides and violent crimes rise and fall together. Go to the yellow boxes for the tables.

Wikipedia offers Carries pages of general interest data for all cities and metropolitan areas–it’s searchable by zip code–for crime related data; see ” Top 101 City Lists” on the front page.

Buying or renting a house:

Many come to this site for assistance in choosing a safe place to live. For an article addressing buying or renting, see  We caution readers to personally investigate the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods as an important first step.

Fear of Crime:

For data on fear of crime by jurisdiction, see

Comparisons of  individual communities, states , and countries:

The material below provides some of the best sources in the country:

There are resources comparing metropolitan areas:

There are resources comparing states:  A service from the FBI allowing comparisons of states and national data for the last 50 years. It does not include data on cities.

There are resources comparing countries:

There are resources comparing individual communities within cities (most dangerous communities)

There are resources with state-to-state comparisons of the most stolen cars:

There are resources comparing states and teenager criminal or dangerous behavior:

There are resources comparing spending on law enforcement and effectiveness that also provide crime data for cities in the US:

See article from WalletHub at

Additional sources for crime data: 

Start with the FBI .

Michigan State University offers a wide array of data sources. See

More sources:

Background–the difficulity of comparing jurisdictions–reported and unreported crime and crime rates:

Crime statistics are confusing and frequently misunderstood. There are criminologists who spend their professional lives investigating the complexity of crime data.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) collects crimes reported to law enforcement agencies through state collection agencies and releases statistics for the nation, states, metropolitan areas and cities twice a year.

The National Crime Survey from the National Institute of Justice releases crime survey data for the country based on reported and unreported crime and does not offer crime statistics for states, metro areas or cities. See for differences as to FBI and National Crime Survey data.

The FBI frowns on using data reported to law enforcement agencies to make comparisons of one city to another, and for good reasons.

Most crime is not reported to the police (thus the need for the National Crime Survey to get a picture of total crime) so there is a lot of room for error. Law enforcement agencies can affect the amount of crime reported through aggressive interactions with citizens.

The FBI and state crime data collection agencies try to enforce common definitions on what constitutes a crime, but individual officers can (and do) downgrade crimes where definitions are vague. For example, an overaggressive person (or people) asking for money could be guilty of panhandling or robbery; it depends on how you interpret the aggressiveness of the person “asking” for money.

Some cities have been known to downgrade crimes. The past is filled with documented examples. Some cities do poor jobs of collecting and analyzing crime data.

Most crime rankings are based on crimes per 1,000 residents which immediately creates an unfair playing field if you get thousands of tourists or workers per day. Those thousands of “outsiders” will inevitably commit crimes or inadvertently create opportunities for crime that would not exist in cities or states not getting a lot of tourists or daily workers.

So the bottom line is that crimes and crimes reported can and will differ for reasons having little or nothing to do with the quality of policing or crime control strategies.

Having said this, the warning from the FBI is routinely ignored by every newspaper in the country; all report on how their city or county or state ranks regarding crime.

So if you choose to look at rankings, please do so with an open mind. A city or state may have crime problems, but hundreds of thousands or millions of its citizens and tourists and workers move throughout their city in relative safety on a daily basis.


Leave a Reply

  1. No offense, but it seems to me rather misleading and just wrong to advise people to rely on their own survey.

    People are not professionals and are not data. People will be influenced by their own prejudices, by misinformation and “want ti to be so,” and by the simple random chance of who and what they encounter on any given day.

    Of course we all want to get the “feel” of a neighborhood and be comfortable in our gut. Such attempts should be backed by sober, objective analysis of the facts and data, not the slippery slopes of subjective experience.

  2. Pingback: The Most Dangerous Cities in America | Dating

    • Hi: No one can offer a satisfactory explanation as to why crime has decreased over the last twenty years beyond the vast increase in incarceration.

      Note that crime generally increases and decreases with similar trend lines in western industrialized countries thus there seem to be universal forces at work as to how people define illegal acts such as drug use and violence (especially towards women). We all seem to come to conclusions as to what we will tolerate.
      Those plus technologies that change the way we live (i.e., proliferation of the use of cell phones) seem to have impacts regardless as to where we live.

      Yes, I understand that this is an inadequate answer. I wish we could do beter.

      Best, Adam.

  3. can you please email me a list of how many people were convicted of a crime in all states last year along with number of released prisoners every year from correctional facilities?This will help with the demographics for my services. Thankyou
    Lee pigford

    • Hi Lee: There are no statistics on broken down by state, but if you go to the website of the US Bureau of Justice Statistics and look at court statistics it will provide overview numbers for select states as a group.

      Best, Adam.

  4. Pingback: The Amazing Twenty-Year Drop in American Violent Crime Continues: December 2010 Update — Crime in America.Net

  5. Thank you for all of the work that you have providing us with valuable information. God bless the works of your hands and keep you until the day of His returning.

  6. Pingback: Crime Statistics–Most Dangerous Cities–Most Miserable Cities — Crime in America.Net