Do you live in one of the most dangerous cities in Alabama?
We all watch the news and see the Facebook feeds come across of the latest crimes that are happening in our home towns. While a major crime just blocks away from your house can make you feel really uneasy, in the big picture, most likely, where you live is relatively safe.
No one wants to feel unsafe, and statistically speaking, odds are that where you live is most likely relatively safe. However, in order to help residents of this fine state of Alabama be aware of where danger zones exist – and to be helpful for future residents of the Yellowhammer State – we crawled through FBI data for the last three years.
According to the statistics, here are the current 10 most dangerous cities in the state of Alabama, where home isn’t so sweet:
How we determined the most dangerous cities in Alabama
While there are surveys and public polls on what cities in a state are the most dangerous, we didn’t want to rely on speculation and opinion. Instead, we looked at the hard numbers from the FBI’s last three years of reporting. Specifically, we analyzed the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report which summarizes the number of property crimes and violent crimes in each city per year.
Violent crimes are defined as rapes, murders, robberies and aggravated assaults.
We only looked at cities that have populations of more than 5,000 people as of 2013, which is the last year the report was available. This left us with a total of 86 cities in Alabama to rank.
Finally, we made 2013 factor more heavily than 2012, since more recent crimes are a bigger determining factor in how dangerous a place is. You can see our overall ranking towards the end of this post.
We must note that this report is not an analysis of the effectiveness of local police departments. It simply states where crimes occurred most frequently.
Property crime rank: 1
Violent crime rank: 3
Bessemer is by far the most dangerous place in Alabama. In fact, there aren’t too many other cities that are more dangerous, per capita.
The violent crime rate is six times higher than the national average. In 2013, the last year that data was available, there were 527 violent crimes in Bessemer. Meaning residents had a 1 in 50 chance of being raped, attacked or murdered. Simply unbelievable.
The property crime rates are even higher here. Residents had a staggering 1 in 8 chance of being robbed last year. That means if you live here, someone in your family likely had their car or home broken into, or was the victim of some other theft.
That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and ‘Bama jerseys.
Bessemer is a short drive south of Birmingham. What’s interesting about this report is that many of the other Birmingham suburbs are some of the safest in the state of Alabama. And it appears that most of the crimes in Bessemer are happening within a very small contained area. A real head scratcher.
Property crime rank: 3
Violent crime rank: 2
Anniston is a little safer than Bessemer, but not by a lot. While most of the crime occurs on the city’s west side, overall, the city itself has some real issues with the number of criminals who are preying on the city’s residents.
There were a staggering five murders here in 2013. To put things into perspective, in Bessemer, there were three. Additionally, residents had a 1 in 11 chance of being the victim of a property crime.
Anniston is located on I-20 on the eastern side of Alabama.
Property crime rank: 2
Violent crime rank: 4
Fairfield saw four murders two years ago. No wonder the population here has dropped 8% over the last 10 years. Most of the trouble is apparently happening on the city’s north end, past Aaron Aronov Drive near the Walmart.
Residents in Fairfield had a 1 in 60 chance of being attacked, murdered or raped. As one local summed up Fairfield on City-Data.com: “Fairfield itself isn’t someplace you’d want to live, and neither are the areas immediately surrounding Fairfield.”
Fairfield, the hometown of Willie Mays, is on I-20 south of Birmingham.
Property crime rank: 4
Violent crime rank: 7
Crime in Selma has been trending downward recently, which is a positive sign. Since 2011, the number of violent crimes has dropped 70%. Just imagine how dangerous it was in Selma just a few years ago.
That crime drop has coincided with a slight uptick in the city’s population,especially on the city’s south end. Perhaps residents are moving back here because they realize the local law enforcement is making a huge effort to crack down on the violence.
However, Selma still remains one of the more dangerous places in Alabama. And with an unemployment rate at 12%, there are issues larger than just the crime rate in Selma.
Selma is way out on Route 80 west of Montgomery.
Property crime rank: 5
Violent crime rank: 6
Lanett is one of the smallest cities to top this list. Despite the fact that this tiny city saw a murder two years ago, the property crimes are sky high. Residents have a 1 in13 chance of being robbed in Lanett. Wow.
The population here has dropped nearly 1,500 people in the last 15 years, which isn’t surprising considering how dangerous it is. If you have to make Lanett your home, stay away from the city’s east side, where things are by far the worst.
Property crime rank: 13
Violent crime rank: 1
According to the FBI, Prichard is statistically, the most dangerous city in the state of Alabama when it comes to property crimes. Prichard saw four murders in 2013. Plus, overall, residents had a 1 in 47 chance of being killed, brutally attacked or raped. That’s simply astounding.
Plus, detectives in Prichard just opened up their 11th homicide case of the year two weeks ago when a passerby shot and killed a man who was walking on a city road.
Prichard borders the north side of Mobile.
Property crime rank: 6
Violent crime rank: 9
There were six murders in Gadsden two years ago, and things aren’t looking much better this year. In fact, crime has been skyrocketing here since 2010. Residents have a 1 in 11 chance of being robbed in Gadsden.
Cadillac Williams, a former first round NFL pick, is from Gadsden. If he drove through his old home town today, would be have his cadillac stolen?
Gadsden is right off of I-59 north of Birmingham. If you go there, avoid the areas in the central part of town. The north end appears to be a lot safer.
Property crime rank: 12
Violent crime rank: 5
We didn’t make it through this list without seeing a major city. Birmingham is the 5th most violent city in the state, and when you look at the numbers, you can see why.
Statistically, 1 in 74 residents was a victim of a violent crime here. That’s just eye-opening for a city of this size. To put things into perspective, in the safest city on our list, Helena, residents had a 1 in 1,000 chance of being involved in a violent crime.
And when you consider the fact that 1 in 15 residents is robbed every year in Birmingham, you can see why people need to watch their backs here, especially in the center of the city where it’s absolutely crime ridden.
Crime has been trending downward lately in Birmingham. Let’s hope that continues.
Property crime rank: 11
Violent crime rank: 8
Monroeville calls itself, ‘The Literary Capital of America” due to the number of prominent writers who were born here. Hopefully, some of the thugs who are causing most of the trouble here start cracking open the books instead of cracking on one another.
Three years ago, there were three homicides in this small town. Violent crimes are ticking downward, but property crimes remain really high. In 2013, residents had a 1 in 13 chance of being the victim of a property crime.
Monroeville, way out on Route 84 miles from any decent sized city, has seen its population shrink 10% over the last 15 years.
Property crime rank: 7
Violent crime rank: 19
Crime isn’t absolutely horrible in Talladega, but it’s still high enough to land this city in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the state list.
Residents had a 1 in 12 chance of being robbed in 2013. And crime has been ticking upward, according to the latest FBI list. The safest areas are on the south end of town, but if you don’t want to worry about safety, avoid the central part of the city.
How we compiled the data
To create an overall crime rank, we broke it down into two criteria for each year (2013, 2012, and 2011):
Violent crimes per capita
Property crimes per capita
Then we weighted each year’s data giving more weight to the most recent year. The idea being that the most recent data gives a current snapshot of the location, but that recent history can also inform our future expectations.
If previous year’s data was not available, we only considered the current year.
The result was that 2013 data is 2x more important than 2012 and 6x more important than 2011 in our calculation.
Finally, we ranked each city based on their violent crime per capita and property crime per capita and took average of the two ranks.
Where are the safest places in Alabama? According to the FBI, here’s the places where statistically, you are least likely to be the victim of a crime:
- Helena (Pop. 17,306)
- Mountain Brook (Pop. 20,354)
- Vestavia Hills (Pop. 34,103)
- Childersburg (Pop. 5,111)
- Southside (Pop. 8,513)
Also, if you’re curious, we looked at the worst and best places to live in Alabama.