The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Kentucky For 2021

We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Bluegrass State for 2021.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. It is our seventh time ranking the most dangerous places to live in Kentucky and is updated for 2021.

If you’re from Kentucky then you know that you have to watch out for more than just crazy Wildcat fans in Lexington and busted, angry moonshiners in Louisville: The Bluegrass State has some pretty dangerous places, too.

It’s not all bougie Kentucky Derby fans, either. This flyover state has some pretty scary criminals, and they can be found in Kentucky’s most dangerous cities. Lucky for you, RoadSnacks has created a list of the most dangerous places in Kentucky for 2021 and we think that you should definitely check it out before you make any major moves.

How’d we determine the most dangerous places in horse country? We consulted the numbers. In total, we analyzed 75 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 there has been an uptick in both violent and property crimes compared to the national average over the last four years and that the most violent place in Kentucky is Louisville. The ‘Ville just can’t catch a break: this city also made it on the list of most dangerous cities in the country. And, surprisingly, it’s not the most dangerous place in this Midwest state.

If you already live in Kentucky’s safest city, consider yourself lucky. But if you don’t, and you’re looking to move, we suggest crank some Bluegrass and check out our list below before you head out: we wouldn’t want you to get caught in any crossfire.

The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In Kentucky For 2021

Mayfield, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,851
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 406 (Third most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,395 (Seventh most dangerous)
More on Mayfield:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

For 2021, Mayfield ranks as the most dangerous city in Kentucky — let’s see why.

Though Mayfield is home to Cartwright Grove, a re-creation of an old west town in the 1880s, you might feel like you really are in the Wild West while in this city. A community of 9,851, Mayfield is certainly rough around the edges.

You do not want to mess with the outlaws here, and we are not talking about the ones in Cartwright Grove. The area ranks third highest in the state for murder and second highest for rape.

As shocking as those standings are, it is easy to see why some people in Mayfield are driven to other types of criminal activity. Not only is the city considered one of the worst places to live in Kentucky, a sizable portion of people there live in poverty.

Louisville, KY

Population: 675,501
Rank Last Year:
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 686 (Most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,891 (12th most dangerous)
More on Louisville:  | Cost Of Living

Louisville is not only the most populous in Kentucky, it is also number 1 in the state for violent crime. Whether you call this city home or are just stopping by, it is a good idea to have one of the area’s legendary Louisville Slugger baseball bats handy.

That accomplishment is probably not one you will see touted alongside Louisville’s other claims to fame, like hosting the Kentucky Derby, being the birthplace of Muhammad Ali, and more. But with 3,337 aggravated assaults, 1,008 robberies, 201 rapes, and 94 murders, it makes sense that the rank distinction goes to this city.

Pikeville, KY

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,592
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 19)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 273 (13th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,552 (Most dangerous)
More on Pikeville:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Apparently, Pikeville had a lot of people who were up to no good in 2019. Criminals here were busy that year and their lawlessness led to the city ranking highest for property crime. In fact, you have a one in 18 chance of being the victim of burglary, larceny, car theft or arson here.

Though you want to keep an eye on your possessions in this Appalachian Region community, loss of or damage to them may turn out to be the least of your concerns. What is even scarier is that Pikeville is also highest in Kentucky for rape. Yikes.

Oak Grove, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,359
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 326 (Fifth most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,239 (Ninth most dangerous)
More on Oak Grove:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

You would think life in a city of 7,359 would be relatively safe and easy going. Not in Oak Grove. The crime numbers here may be smaller than those of other areas in the state but that does not make them insignificant. Members of the Oak Grove Police Department still have their work cut out for them.

Holding criminals accountable for making off with items that belong to others seems to be where most of their attention went in 2019. People in Oak Grove reported 246 larcenies, 40 burglaries, and 26 stolen cars that year.

Bowling Green, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 69,627
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 291 (Tenth most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,667 (Fourth most dangerous)
More on Bowling Green:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

The numbers do not lie when it comes to the dangers of Bowling Green — it’s the fifth most dangerous city in Kentucky for 2021. You need to be careful in this southern Kentucky city or you could wind up like one of the victims of the 203 violent crimes that occurred in 2019. Physical safety is not all you have to worry about. Of those incidents, 55 were robberies. So, your valuables are at risk here too.

And while the city is known for producing Corvettes, criminals here are happy to get their hands on any set of wheels — including yours. The people who reported the 254 car thefts in Bowling Green in 2019, learned that lesson the hard way.

Paducah, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 24,832
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 285 (12th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,255 (Third most dangerous)
More on Paducah:  | Cost Of Living

When William Clark, of Lewis and Clark, founded Paducah in 1827, it is safe to assume he had grand plans for it. The area being named one of the most dangerous cities in Kentucky, was not likely one of them.

The people of Paducah can thank their community’s modern-day criminals for that. In fact, contempt for the law is so bad here compared to the rest of the state that the city ranks second highest for total crime. A status the 1,305 property crimes that took place in 2019 certainly had a role in achieving.

Ashland, KY

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,222
Rank Last Year: 29 (Up 22)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 291 (Ninth most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,659 (14th most dangerous)
More on Ashland:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

You will find Ashland alongside the Ohio River. If you are a penny-pincher who does not mind a little danger, this city might be the perfect place for you. The area happens to be one of Kentucky’s cheapest places to live, but there are some serious downsides.

The appeal of an affordable cost of living might quickly wear off once you realize how prevalent theft is here. The 608 larcenies that were reported in 2019 put the city’s low price tag into perspective. Not to mention, you have a one in 27 chance of becoming a victim of a property crime here.

Shively, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,845
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 340 (Fourth most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,351 (20th most dangerous)
More on Shively:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

It is a good thing that a stop along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is in Shively. Residents here might want a cocktail or two with booze from the Stitzel-Weller Distillery to help them forget that their city is highest in the state for murder.

The 19 aggravated assaults, 21 robberies, and 9 rapes reported in 2019 probably do not make anyone here feel much better about their personal safety either. Let’s just hope no one drowns their sorrows too much. You need to stay alert if you are going to thrive in this town.

Winchester, KY

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 18,605
Rank Last Year:
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 236 (18th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,423 (Sixth most dangerous)
More on Winchester:  | Cost Of Living

A few miles east of Lexington, sits Winchester. Before you hit the hay in this city, you better hide your jewelry, cash, and any other hot-ticket goods you have around the house. Crooks here had a knack for breaking and entering in 2019, committing 119 burglaries that year.

Do not assume your personal belongings are any safer by your side either. The area’s residents and visitors faced 13 incidents of robbery as well. That may not seem like a lot, but we bet you would not want to be in the shoes of those victims.

10. Middlesboro

Middlesboro, KY

Population: 9,223
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 15)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 260 (14th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,968 (11th most dangerous)
More on Middlesboro:

Welcome to Middlesboro, one of the most dangerous places to live in Kentucky. Middlesboro is the kind of place people have been desperate to get away from for decades. And when your city makes this list, that is just one more reason to pack up your bags and move on to one of the state’s more promising areas.

Residents who noticed the criminal activity occurring in 2019 may not be surprised by the city’s ranking. While violence was not a major issue, the community was not immune to it either. Reports of 17 aggravated assaults and 4 rapes contributed to the area’s 24 violent crimes. People here might take that as a sign that it is better to ditch Middlesboro sooner rather than later.

Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In Kentucky

Most Dangerous Cities In Kentucky Graph

Click To Enlarge

How we determined the most dangerous cities in Kentucky for 2021?

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 2019 data, specifically the 2019 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available in September 2021.

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 Kentucky cities over 5,000 in population. That left us with 75 cities in Kentucky.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 75 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 Kentucky — Mayfield. 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 Kentucky.

Locking It All Up In Kentucky

So what is the most dangerous city in Kentucky? After analyzing 75 cities in Kentucky, Mayfield takes the top spot as the most dangerous city in Kentucky based on the most recently reported FBI data — 2019.

The latest FBI crime data shows that Mayfield ranks as the most dangerous city in Kentucky for 2021.

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

If you guessed that most of Kentucky’s problems are centered around many of the state’s biggest cities, you guessed right. Cheaper rent and the promise of better jobs with higher wages is usually the draw, but not always the outcome. Surprisingly, however, the state’s most dangerous city is not one of the state’s most populated.

What’s the most dangerous place in Kentucky? That would be, Mayfield.

If you want to know where the rest of Kentucky’s most dangerous cities are located, take a look below. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for there, head to the bottom.

Learn more about the safest places in Kentucky.

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

Here are the safest cities in Kentucky:

  1. Lawrenceburg (Pop. 11,538)
  2. Mount Washington (Pop. 14,855)
  3. Erlanger (Pop. 23,116)
  4. Vine Grove (Pop. 6,468)
  5. Wilmore (Pop. 6,489)
  6. Edgewood (Pop. 8,749)
  7. Independence (Pop. 28,541)
  8. Taylor Mill (Pop. 6,810)
  9. Fort Thomas (Pop. 16,386)
  10. Flatwoods (Pop. 7,041)

For more Kentucky reading, check out:

The Most Dangerous Cities In Kentucky

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Mayfield 9,851 406 4,395
2 Louisville 675,501 686 3,891
3 Pikeville 6,592 273 5,552
4 Oak Grove 7,359 326 4,239
5 Bowling Green 69,627 291 4,667
6 Paducah 24,832 285 5,255
7 Ashland 20,222 291 3,659
8 Shively 15,845 340 3,351
9 Winchester 18,605 236 4,423
10 Middlesboro 9,223 260 3,968
11 Frankfort 27,723 292 3,426
12 Covington 40,350 465 2,912
13 Hopkinsville 30,895 291 3,505
14 Lexington 326,070 296 2,998
15 Campbellsville 11,488 252 3,629
16 Owensboro 60,107 224 4,046
17 Newport 14,965 247 3,655
18 Radcliff 22,998 252 3,430
19 Mount Sterling 7,326 204 3,890
20 Florence 32,848 167 4,307
21 Somerset 11,519 303 2,239
22 St. Matthews 18,275 120 5,329
23 Russellville 7,068 212 3,169
24 Maysville 8,750 217 2,948
25 Franklin 9,036 232 2,766
26 Glasgow 14,475 179 2,991
27 Henderson 28,368 229 2,460
28 Leitchfield 6,852 189 2,568
29 Richmond 36,458 205 2,205
30 Shepherdsville 12,515 175 2,532
31 Princeton 6,105 147 2,702
32 London 8,050 62 4,658
33 Nicholasville 31,188 150 2,430
34 Georgetown 35,106 116 2,845
35 Lebanon 5,716 209 1,539
36 Paris 9,879 161 2,064
37 Bardstown 13,239 113 2,628
38 Monticello 6,015 149 1,995
39 Danville 16,873 154 1,641
40 Central City 5,726 157 1,536
41 Corbin 7,255 124 1,833
42 Shelbyville 16,531 127 1,778
43 Elizabethtown 30,383 161 1,487
44 Jeffersontown 28,015 110 2,127
45 Morehead 7,736 90 2,145
46 La Grange 9,080 110 1,729
47 Murray 19,545 102 1,933
48 Williamsburg 5,298 188 1,019
49 Berea 16,074 118 1,294
50 Cynthiana 6,354 94 1,447

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.