10 Most Dangerous Cities In California For 2020


We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Golden State for 2020.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. It is our fifth time ranking the most dangerous places to live in California and is updated for 2020.

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What do Biggie, Tupac, and Snoop Dogg have in common? They’ve all written songs about some of the most dangerous places in California.

That’s right, from Stockton to Compton, The Golden State has some pretty sketchy places and RoadSnacks is here to tell you just where those places are located. Yes, we’ve done the unthinkable and created a list of the top ten most dangerous places in California for 2020.

In order to compile our list, we looked at FBI data for violent crimes and property crimes in California cities with a population of 5,000. That left us with 418 cities. We discovered that the cities that made our list have robberies happening in broad daylight, car jackings, and daily shootings. There are neighborhoods in these cities that you shouldn’t drive thru, ever, and there are areas that you definitely shouldn’t be in after dark.

Why’d we make this list? We did this for the people who don’t necessarily want to travel to these places, but want to know the facts. And the facts are as follows: one, the state’s violent and property crime is up above the national average and still climbing; and two, the effects of these numbers are continuing to claim many of California’s biggest cities. Cities like Oakland and San Bernardino just can’t catch a break.

California’s crime numbers have also catapulted the state into the top 20 most dangerous states in America; and sadly, the home to Hollywood currently has nine-yes, nine- of the most dangerous cities in the country.

Want to learn more about our methodology and where California’s most dangerous places are located? Keep reading, there may be some that surprise you.

Do we think the problems in California’s most dangerous places are directly related to high umeployment, poor wages, and a lack of rehabilitation programs? Absolutely. Not to mention, rent in most of California’s safest places and best places to live is out of reach for most people, making it difficult for people to make a move. This keeps the people in these places feeling angry, defeated, and more likely to commit a crime.

So, what is the most dangerous place in California? That would be, Emeryville.

To see how the rest of your favorite places in California faired, take a look below; and if you don’t find your favorite there, head to the bottom.

Learn more about the safest places in California.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the most dangerous cities in America or the most dangerous states in America.

For more California reading, check out:

The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In California For 2020

Emeryville, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 12,016
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,414 (1st most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 16,760 (1st most dangerous)
More on Emeryville:  Data | Photos

It will probably surprise most people to see Emeryville as the most dangerous city in California. However, this is the THIRD year in a row it occupied the top spot in our analysis.

North of Oakland, east of San Francisco, and home to Pixar Studios, Emeryville is one of the smallest city on this list.

Residents face crazy high rates of property crime, with a 1 in 6.0 chance of being the victim of one (that’s 9 times higher than in Los Angeles).

Luckily, violent crime has fallen by 37% between 2017-2018, but there’s still an unsettling 1 in 70 chance of being the victim of violence here.

Oakland, CA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 430,230
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,273 (7th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,390 (8th most dangerous)
More on Oakland:  Data | Photos

Oakland is only the 8th biggest city in California, but it’s one of the most violent by far.

Bump City residents face a ridiculously high 1 in 78 “shot” of being the victim of a violent crime, a number that has been steadily rising.

Property crime has also increased between 2017-2018, so Oakland may overtake Emeryville in a few years.

Commerce, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 12,961
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 987 (14th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,676 (2nd most dangerous)
More on Commerce:  Data | Photos

Commerce calls itself “the Model City,” and, to its benefit, it’s one of the least violent cities on this list.

But this small city to the southeast of Los Angeles does have super high rates of property crime, which earns it a 3rd place spot for the most dangerous places in California.

The good news is that violent crime has fallen by almost 30% in recent years, and property crime is also slowly dropping down to a 1 in 13.0 chance in 2018.

Red Bluff, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 14,315
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,152 (12th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,022 (14th most dangerous)
More on Red Bluff:  Data | Photos

Red Bluff’s motto might tout that the city is “a great place to live,” but its status as the 4th most dangerous city in California might stain that saying a bit.

Located 125 miles north of Sacramento, Red bluff residents have a 1 in 19.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime every year.

Violent crime has also gone up nearly 30% between 2017-2018, with a higher than 1 in 86 chance of being the victim of violence.

Barstow, CA

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 24,095
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,182 (10th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,573 (16th most dangerous)
More on Barstow:  Data | Photos

Coming in as the 5th most dangerous city in California is Barstow.

While violent crime has been steadily dropping in recent years, with a 10% total drop in violent crime from 2017-2018, property crime went up by nearly the same rate during this interval.

That left residents of Barstow a 1 in 1221.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime in 2018, and a 1 in 84 chance of being the victim of violence.

West Hollywood, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 37,478
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 13)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 803 (22nd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,603 (4th most dangerous)
More on West Hollywood:  Data | Photos

West Hollywood isn’t in the top for either category of crime, but a cumulatively bad score lands it in 6th place.

On the bright side, violent crime was reformed in a serious way between 2017, with the instances dropping to 301.

That amounts to a 1 in 124 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in 2018.

San Bernardino, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 217,986
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,333 (3rd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,135 (27th most dangerous)
More on San Bernardino:  Data | Photos

San Bernardino is one of the most crime-ridden cities in California.

Violent crime and property crime have become an issue between 2017-2018, which left San Bernardino’s residents with a 1 in 75 chance of being the victim of violence, and a 1 in 24.2 chance of being the victim of theft or arson in 2018.

Santa Monica, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 92,674
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 860 (20th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,106 (11th most dangerous)
More on Santa Monica:  Data | Photos

Santa Monica makes it into the top 10 most dangerous in California. After a huge growth spurt in the 60’s and 70’s, people are actually leaving Santa Monica in droves, which could be in part to its high criminal population.

As of the last FBI report, crime in Santa Monica has been ticking upwards, and statistically, 1 in 19.6 residents here was recently the victim of a robbery or car theft.

Signal Hill, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 11,711
Rank Last Year: 29 (Up 20)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 734 (29th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,891 (3rd most dangerous)
More on Signal Hill:  Data | Photos

The smallest city to make this list, Signal Hill is located 45 miles northwest of California’s capital, Sacramento.

The small city experienced a large rise in violent crime between 2017-2018.

Still, Signal Hill is the 29th most violent place on this list, with residents facing about a 1 in 136 chance of being the victim of violence in 2018.

Eureka, CA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 27,174
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 724 (31st most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,486 (6th most dangerous)
More on Eureka:  Data | Photos

Eureka, with a population of 27,174 ranks as the 10th most dangerous city based on 2018 data.

Between 2017-2018, violent crime fell, leaving residents a 1 in 137 chance of being the victim of violence in 2018.

Property crime also dropped during these years, meaning Eureka may be off this list in another year if the trend keeps up.

Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In California

Most Dangerous Cities In California Graph

Click To Enlarge

How we determined the most dangerous cities in California for 2020?

Every year the FBI release two crime datasets, a preliminary dataset limited to the biggest cities in the country, followed by a more detailed release at the end of the year.

For our analysis, we focused on the JUST released 2018 data, specifically the 2018 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available in September 2020.

So what criteria did we use? Have a look:

  • Violent Crimes Per Capita
  • Property Crimes Per Capita

In order to make the analysis as apples to apples as possible, we only considered California cities over 5,000 in population. That left us with 418 cities in California.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 418 for the two criteria with a #1 ranking being the most dangerous for the particular criteria.

Next, we averaged the two rankings into one “Dangerous Index”.

Finally, we ranked every city on the “Dangerous Index” with the lowest index being the most dangerous in California — Emeryville. Any ties went to the smaller city. You can download the data here.

Read on for a detailed look at the 10 most dangerous cities in California.

Locking It All Up In California

The latest FBI crime data shows that Emeryville ranks as the most dangerous city in California for 2020.

We want to point out again that there’s still safes places in Emeryville and that this isn’t a comment on the people that live there. So please don’t beat us up.

If you’re curious enough, here are the safest cities in California:

  1. Danville (Pop. 45,202)
  2. Orinda (Pop. 20,020)
  3. Imperial (Pop. 17,976)

For more California reading, check out:

Where Are The Most Dangerous Cities In California?

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Emeryville 12,016 1,414 16,760
2 Oakland 430,230 1,273 5,390
3 Commerce 12,961 987 7,676
4 Red Bluff 14,315 1,152 5,022
5 Barstow 24,095 1,182 4,573
6 West Hollywood 37,478 803 5,603
7 San Bernardino 217,986 1,333 4,135
8 Santa Monica 92,674 860 5,106
9 Signal Hill 11,711 734 5,891
10 Eureka 27,174 724 5,486

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

23 thoughts on “10 Most Dangerous Cities In California For 2020

  1. Stockton is the most horrible city I have ever been to, we got robbed, stole everything we had, and burned the moving trucks, the city is full of bastards. Don’t ever go there, it is a deadly, filthy, hell hole.

  2. When are you planning to update this list with more recent data? I’m very curious to see where the CA cities net out now.

  3. In san Francisco, a major problem is cars windows being broken into for theft. As this is considered a “misdemeanor'” those who are caught are let go without being charged.
    Likewise, bicycle theft.

  4. This list is Garbage. I have lived in a few of these cities and there is no way that this list is accurate. Here is a better top 5 list.

    Oakland
    Los Angeles
    Stockton
    San Francisco
    Victorville

    Not necessarily in that order for all of them but… Grass Valley? REALLY? The Title of this article is These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In California For 2017 and is clearly Clickbait! ALL of us who read it and this comment have all wasted our time.

  5. These are “per capita” numbers. Big Bear Lake’s full-time population is 5,209 but it’s a resort town and its weekend and holiday population can be over 100,000. So the numbers are obviously skewed and proves that this article has a very flawed formula.

  6. This article is bull I live in Red Bluff, Ca nothing happens in Red Bluff. This town is so dead and lifeless that you can hear the crickets chirping at night. So go f yourself. You’re probably some snot nose liberal that’s got his/her thumb up their..

  7. AHAHAHAHAH! What a complete GARBAGE list I’ve ever seen.

    Have you ever been to Carson, South Gate, Stockton, Modesto, Oakland, and other notorious places? Of course not, because you listed the sleepy community of Grass Valley on this list. Do you have any idea what Grass Valley is like? Seriously, this list is absolute trash you and have to stop posting this list. It’s completely flawed and is lying directly to the reader’s faces.

  8. I live in Grass Valley. This year alone six dead (so far) on 49 and 20 by reckless /drunk drivers. Alcoholism is rampant. Multiple murder cases, robberies with assault, graft. Your the clueless self righteous no nothing idiot.

  9. RE San Francisco: “but hey — the numbers don’t lie.” “These numbers are much worse than Los Angeles, and they’re only getting worse.”

    The numbers aren’t lying, but the author is definitely screwing with the facts. At the bottom, the list shows San Francisco’s violent crime per capita rate is smaller than Los Angeles (715 vs 716), and by all accounts, the trend shows the violent crime rates in both cities are declining, not getting worse.

  10. All you guys Cap’n, n just over exaggerating cause stockton not even that bad stockton full of nice ppl

  11. Show me a place run by democrats and I’ll show you a place that is or is turning into a ghetto. Detroit, Seattle, Portland, San Fran, Oakland, etc…

  12. Stockton is an ok place to live. I live here currently and we have been egged, and our mail has been stolen, and more bad things, but we do have nice neighbors. Stockton is getting worse by the year, but it’s not that bad for now…

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