If you’ve ever read Iowa City’s Press-Citizen’s Crime and Courts page, then you know what many Iowans already know: this Midwest state has some pretty dangerous places, too.
Do we think it’s because the flatlanders are bored? Jobs are scarce? Low wages? Yes, all three and then some. So, it would be in your best interest to take a look below at RoadSnacks’ list of the most dangerous places in Iowa for 2020 before you make any life changing decisions.
How’d we determine the most dangerous places in corn country? We consulted the numbers. In total, we analyzed 72 cities. We looked at the FBI’s latest crime report for violent crime and property crime statistics for every place with over 5,000 residents. We discovered that Iowa has some pretty interesting statistics when it comes to violent and property crime compared to the national average. Iowa is winning the arson game, but losing in murder and aggravated assault. And, shockingly, the city with the most assaults and murders in the state has less than 26,000 residents.
Now, it’s not all crazy scary in Iowa. The state’s good angel is definitely looking out for the state’s safest cities. The ying to that yang, however, is that Iowa has its fair share of dangerous cities too; and folks, they’re pretty dangerous. And if you think that most of Iowa’s problems are centered around the state’s largest cities, you’re partially right. Surprisingly, however, the most dangerous city in Iowa has only 11,000 residents.
While Iowa was not in the top ten most dangerous states in the country, Des Moines and Davenport are two of the most dangerous cities in the country. Maybe these cities need more police presence? We’re not entirely sure. But one thing we do know is that you should check out Iowa’s most dangerous places below: there may be some surprises.
Note that Iowa did not provide new data for the most recent year, so this ranking is based on the most recently available data in Iowa.
This is not a list that any city in any state wants to see their name. You probably won’t see a sign entering the most dangerous place in a state that reads “number one most dangerous city in Iowa”: it’s not something to brag about. But, people need to know.
So, without further adieu, the most dangerous place in Iowa is Keokuk.
Take a look at the list below to see the rest of Iowa’s most dangerous places; and if you don’t see what you’re looking for there, head to the bottom.
Learn more about the safest places in Iowa.
For more Iowa reading, check out:
The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In Iowa For 2020
Located on the southeastern edge of the state, Keokuk ranks 1st overall.
In 2018, residents faced a 1 in 115 chance of being the victim of a violent crime.
Keokuk’s violent crimes have risen 8% in recent years, meaning it’s on track to overtake the role of most dangerous city in Iowa in the not too distant future.
Clinton is the easternmost city in Iowa, and is on the western shore of the Mississippi.
The city has seen dramatic changes in both its violent and property crime statistics in recent years.
While property crime fell by 24% between 2017-2018, violent crime rose by 32%, with residents facing a 1 in 86 chance of being the victim of violence in 2018.
Burlington ranks as the 3rd most dangerous city in Iowa according to 2018’s data.
While there’s still a 1 in 25.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime in Burlington, their crime statistics in both categories have been falling steadily over recent years.
Both property crime and violent crime fell in Davenport between 2017-2018, but both bounced back up in 2018 relative to the one year previous.
Residents still faced a 1 in 137 chance of being the victim of violence in 2018.
If you live in Ottumwa, you already know which parts of town to avoid. But did you know you have a 1 in 170 chance of being raped, attacked or outright killed every year? Those are the stats.
Plus, 1 in 18.9 people has their lives screwed up due to a property crime of some sort. Odds are if you’ve lived in Ottumwa for a long time, you’ve been robbed at least one time in your life.
If you pass through Ottumwa, lock your doors. And don’t talk to strangers.
Iowa’s capital and most populous city, Des Moines, ranks as the 6th most dangerous city in the state.
The super high 1 in 22.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime earns Des Moines its high danger level.
There has been modest progress in reducing both categories of crime, but violent crime still totaled 1,456 in 2018.
Located along the Des Moines River in north-central Iowa, Fort Dodge is safer than the city above it, but it’s still the 7th most dangerous city in Iowa.
There’s a 1 in 22.6 chance of being the victim of theft or arson — pretty darn high — and those numbers have remained consistently high in recent years.
Red Oak makes it into the top 10 most dangerous in Iowa. After a huge growth spurt in the 60’s and 70’s, people are actually leaving Red Oak in droves, which could be in part to its high criminal population.
As of the last FBI report, crime in Red Oak has been ticking upwards, and statistically, 1 in 28.6 residents here was recently the victim of a robbery or car theft.
Fort Madison isn’t in the top for either category of crime, but a cumulatively bad score lands it in 9th place.
On the bright side, violent crime was reformed in a serious way between 2017, with the instances dropping to 66.
That amounts to a 1 in 159 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in 2018.
Located in southern Iowa, Centerville has moderately bad statistics for both violent and property crime.
The smallest city to make this list has seen a 32% drop in property crime between 2017-2018, a difference of a 1 in 22 chance down to a 1 in 18.4 chance; still pretty high, but progress is good.
Unfortunately, Centerville’s violent crime statistics have remained stagnant over the same time period.
Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In Iowa
How we determined the most dangerous cities in Iowa 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 Iowa cities over 5,000 in population. That left us with 72 cities in Iowa.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 72 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 Iowa — Keokuk. 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 Iowa.
Locking It All Up In Iowa
The latest FBI crime data shows that Keokuk ranks as the most dangerous city in Iowa for 2020.
We want to point out again that there’s still safes places in Keokuk 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 Iowa:
- Eldridge (Pop. 6,406)
- Norwalk (Pop. 10,874)
- Sioux Center (Pop. 7,578)
For more Iowa reading, check out:
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa
- Best Places To Retire In Iowa
- Richest Cities In Iowa
- Safest Places In Iowa
- Worst Places To Live In Iowa
Where Are The Most Dangerous Cities In Iowa?