These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

We looked at three years of FBI crime data to identify the most dangerous cities in NC.

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Do you live in one of the most dangerous cities in North Carolina?

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.

However, in order to help North Carolina residents–and future residents–of this fine state know just how close they are to danger, we crunched some numbers from the annual FBI report. Some of the results were a little surprising, while some were not.

Here are the current 10 most dangerous cities in North Carolina:

  1. Lumberton
  2. Henderson
  3. Kinston
  4. Laurinburg (tie)
  5. Statesville (tie)
  6. Goldsboro
  7. Rocky Mount (tie)
  8. Smithfield (tie)
  9. Salisbury
  10. Burlington

How we determined the most dangerous cities in North Carolina

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 10,000 people as of 2013, which is the last year the report was available. This left us with a total of 69 cities in North Carolina 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 at the bottom of the 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.

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1. Lumberton

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: City of Lumberton Police Department Facebook page

Population: 21,828

Violent Crime Rank: 1
Property Crime Rank: 1

Lumberton is one of the smaller cities in our top 10, but it ranked across the board as the most dangerous city in the state of North Carolina. Crimes have dipped slightly in the most recent report, but residents had a 1 in 7 chance of being the victim of a property crime in 2013, which is really, really high.

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Basically, if you live in Lumberton, statistically, someone on your street was the victim of a crime last year.

2. Henderson

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: City of Henderson Police Facebook page

Population: 15,309

Violent Crime Rank: 2
Property Crime Rank: 2

This tiny city located on the Virginia border has a lot of criminal activity going on.

The hometown of Charlie Rose isn’t so rosy right now when you look at the recent crime numbers. There were more than 200 violent crimes in this small town in 2013, and as of the recent criminal rankings, the numbers are climbing steadily.

If you live in Henderson, NC, you have a 1 of 10 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

3. Kinston

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: City of Kinston Police Department Facebook page

Population: 21,619

Violent Crime Rank: 3
Property Crime Rank: 3

Kinston won the All-America City Award in 2009, but recently, things look more dodgy in this Lenoir County town. The hometown of Jerry Stackhouse saw property crimes on the rise according to the latest FBI report, and its residents had a 1 in 79 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in 2013. To put things into perspective, in Pinehurst, NC, the safest city on our list, residents had a 1 in 1,875 chance of being the victim of a violent crime.

4. Laurinburg (tie)

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: Source: Flickr user Jimmy Emerson

Population: 15,740

Violent Crime Rank: 4
Property Crime Rank: 7

While Laurinburg’s property crimes have gone down recently, its violent crimes have gone up lately. In fact, there were 212 violent crimes in the town of only 15,740 people in the latest FBI report.

Residents of this small town on the South Carolina border have a 1 in 16 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

4. Statesville (tie)

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: Flickr user Jimmy Emerson

Population: 25,199

Violent Crime Rank: 7
Property Crime Rank: 4

Statesville tied with Laurinburg, though Statesville is arguably more dangerous, since it had the fourth-highest violent crimes per capita in the state of North Carolina two years ago.

Like Kinston, Statesville was also named an All-America City as late as 2009. However, currently, its residents currently have a 1 in 139 chance of being the victim of a violent crime of some sort, including a rape, robbery, murder or assault.

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6. Goldsboro

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: Flickr user Jimmy Emerson

Population: 37,230

Violent Crime Rank: 6
Property Crime Rank: 8

Perhaps the most ‘well-known’ town in our top ten, Goldsboro has recently drawn the attention of national news headlines with the recent killing of an employee at Wayne Community College.

Crime in Goldsboro has been heading in the right direction over the past few years, as both property and violent crimes have been on the decrease since 2011. Perhaps the former home of Andy Griffith could use more help of Matlock-type lawyers to help solve some of Goldsboro’s recent crimes.

7. Rocky Mount (tie)

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: Google maps

Population: 57,021

Violent Crime Rank: 5
Property Crime Rank: 14

Despite the fact that violent crimes plummeted between 2012 and 2013, Rocky Mount residents still have a 1 in 95 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. This town, 45 minutes east of Raleigh, has an unusually-high number of violent crimes per capita. At just under 600 as of the last count in 2013, that puts it among the highest in the state of North Carolina.

As a side note, the population growth in Rocky Mount has slowed dramatically over the last few years.

7. Smithfield (tie)

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: Google maps

Population: 11,451

Violent Crime Rank: 10
Property Crime Rank: 9

The tiny town of Smithfield is located 30 minutes from downtown Raleigh. Despite the fact that crimes here have been steadily dropping over the last 5 years, it still ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in North Carolina, based on crimes per capita.

Residents in Smithfield had a 1 in 18 chance of being the victim of a property crime in 2013. Hopefully, the recent trend continues and Smithfield can improve its public safety.

9. Salisbury

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: Google maps

Population: 33,626

Violent Crime Rank: 9
Property Crime Rank: 16

For a town that’s home to famed beverage Cheerwine, its certainly not cheery here in Salisbury at times. The number of violent and property crimes in Salisbury put it towards the top of the list in terms of dangerous places to live in North Carolina.

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Also home to grocery chain giant Food Lion, Salisbury has seen its violent crimes tick upwards over the last few years, and its residents have a 1 in 128 chance of being the victim of a robbery, rape, murder or attack.

10. Burlington

Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

Source: Google maps

Population: 51,401

Violent Crime Rank: 8
Property Crime Rank: 22

Burlington, home to more restaurants per capita than any other city in North Carolina, rounds out our top ten for most dangerous cities in the state.

Crime has been dropping in Burlington over the last few years, which is a good sign. According to the latest FBI report, its residents had a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

How we compiled the data

For this analysis, we only considered cities with populations greater than 10,000 people in 2013, the last year for which FBI data is available. This left us with 89 cities in North Carolina to rank. Editor’s note: Durham isn’t on the list because it does not report its crime to the FBI.

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.

As with all FBI Crime rankings, it is important to note this ranking is not a critique of police practices or effectiveness. It’s simply an analysis of where crimes occurred.


So, which towns were the safest on our list? According to the FBI reporting figures, the following are currently the safest cities in North Carolina:

Pinehurst, NC. Population 15,100
Holly Springs, NC. Population 27,557
Cary, NC. Population 148,905
Davidson, NC. Population 11,657
Morrisville, NC. Population 21,229
Apex, NC. Population 41,356

City Population Violent Crime Rank Property Crime Rank Overall Rank
Lumberton 21828 1 1 1 1
Henderson 15309 2 2 2 2
Kinston 21619 3 3 3 3
Laurinburg 15740 4 7 5.5 4
Statesville 25199 7 4 5.5 4
Goldsboro 37230 6 8 7 6
Rocky Mount 57021 5 14 9.5 7
Smithfield 11451 10 9 9.5 7
Salisbury 33626 9 16 12.5 9
Burlington 51401 8 22 15 10
Winston-Salem 235811 14 17 15.5 11
Gastonia 73049 12 20 16 12
Roanoke Rapids 15686 19 13 16 12
Fayetteville 202524 21 11 16 12
Monroe 33895 15 19 17 15
Hendersonville 13342 29 10 19.5 16
Hickory 40109 25 15 20 17
Hope Mills 15699 34 6 20 17
Wilmington 110985 17 25 21 19
Albemarle 15946 26 18 22 20
Southern Pines 12846 11 35 23 21
Asheboro 25665 41 5 23 21
Greenville 88018 18 30 24 23
New Bern 30514 30 21 25.5 24
Reidsville 14286 39 12 25.5 24
Shelby 20261 13 39 26 26
Mount Airy 10450 32 23 27.5 27
Charlotte-Mecklenburg 837638 16 40 28 28
Greensboro 279343 22 34 28 28
High Point 107261 23 33 28 28
Thomasville 26866 28 29 28.5 31
Elizabeth City 18395 20 38 29 32
Lincolnton 10686 33 26 29.5 33
Mebane 13129 35 24 29.5 33
Graham 14270 24 37 30.5 35
Eden 15282 31 31 31 36
Tarboro 11297 27 36 31.5 37
Kernersville 23553 38 27 32.5 38
Garner 27021 47 28 37.5 39
Mooresville 33676 45 32 38.5 40
Lexington 18939 36 43 39.5 41
Newton 12980 40 41 40.5 42
Raleigh 428993 37 46 41.5 43
Morganton 16852 42 45 43.5 44
Carrboro 20709 44 47 45.5 45
Knightdale 13153 53 42 47.5 46
Havelock 20765 46 51 48.5 47
Mount Holly 13814 43 55 49 48
Matthews 29178 50 48 49 48
Concord 82899 57 44 50.5 50
Kannapolis 44150 49 56 52.5 51
Clayton 17315 54 52 53 52
Leland 15535 56 50 53 52
Boone 17998 48 60 54 54
Cornelius 26683 52 57 54.5 55
Chapel Hill 58744 58 53 55.5 56
Archdale 11524 63 49 56 57
Mint Hill 24350 51 62 56.5 58
Wake Forest 33852 59 54 56.5 58
Waxhaw 10481 55 59 57 60
Huntersville 50162 60 58 59 61
Stallings 14544 61 63 62 62
Apex 41356 64 65 64.5 63
Morrisville 21229 68 61 64.5 63
Davidson 11657 62 68 65 65
Cary 148905 66 64 65 65
Holly Springs 27557 65 66 65.5 67
Pinehurst 15100 67 67 67 68

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34 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In North Carolina

  1. I see that Salisbury came in 9 on the list of crime-ridden cities in the State of North Carolina. No surprise there. If you go into the downtown area, you’d better be packing heat, ladies and gentlemen. I have twice been approached by shiftless young men, asking, “Can we talk?”

    I’m no Joan Rivers, so I shouted, “No sir.” It took a second shout to send them on. The next time it happened just a couple months ago. These guys didn’t take “no” for an answer, until I pulled a 38 special out of my purse and held it by my side as I walked away. I heard one shout, “She has a gun!” Then both of them ran as fast as they could.

    Both instances were in broad daylight. And I know a lady who was robbed at knife point by a street thief in broad daylight in Salisbury, too. Stay away from that place, unless you absolutely have no choice. Criminal gangs rule the streets there.

    1. I have lived two blocks from Main St., Downtown Salisbury, for 15 years….. walk my dogs through downtown everyday and on the streets that surround downtown, never have I ever had any problems. I have lived in Charlotte NC, and would I walk those streets? No way……

      1. I grew up 2 blocks from Main St, and my parents still live there. Crime in around the historic district has always been an issue, but in recent years it has risen exponentially. Car vandalism, break-ins, theft from garages and storage areas happen all the time. I know multiple people who have been robbed at the wellsfargo ATM off of main st as well. And in salisbury as a whole, violent crime continues to increase, as you see a murder in the salisbury post almost weekly. When my parents first put their home up for sale I was extremely upset with them, but in recent years I have realized they should have done it sooner. Salisbury’s crime rate and joblessness make it a place no one wants to move into, as you can probably see from the 2 houses for sale on every block.

      2. I’ve lived in Charlotte for 57 years and it’s WAY safer than some of these small thug towns that are in NC!

    2. You are delusional. I live in Salisbury and criminal gangs do not rule the streets here. Your story sounds quite scary, but it did not happen in “downtown Salisbury.” Don’t come here to buy drugs and you won’t find yourself in sketch neighborhoods, lady. Because any Salisbury resident reading your over-the-top story knows that the only way in hell that it’s even close to accurate is if you were in an area of Rowan County known for drug sales. “Criminal Gangs” absolutely do not run our streets. Small businesses, artists and North Carolina Historic Sites run our strips. Get off the meth. It’s causing paranoid delusions for you and you should by no means be armed!

    3. I have lived and worked in Salisbury my entire life and have never heard of such ludicrous charges. You deserve an Oscar for such drama.

  2. My job takes me to the towns of Henderson, Burlington, Salisbury and Statesville every other month or so. Of all these cities, I avoid staying overnight or dining in Henderson. It’s a real armpit. I used to stay overnight occasionally in Salisbury, until a burned body was recovered from a wooded area next to the budget hotel I stayed in. The interstate noise was unrelenting, too. Burlington actually has some okay hotels near I-85, where I feel safe. Statesville is just about as bad as Salisbury and Henderson, though. The best advice is to get a CCW permit, and know when lethal force may be used, to repel any of the scofflaws that make these towns the pariahs of North Carolina.

  3. Lumberton shouldn’t be number one if you came to Henderson and stayed a week you’d see how rough it is down here. I wouldn’t doubt anything that happens in this town of ours.

  4. Mayhem is continuel in Salisbury. 2009 a note on a newspaper rack at Chic-Filet led cops to a burned body behind Comfort Suites. 2010 3 gangbangers robbed parked trai across from Police dept. 2014 gangbanger with empty shotgun got capped by a deputy at dinner in Chinese restaurant between Chic-Filet and Comfort Suites when he tried robbing the till. WilcoHess customers regularly jacked while pumping petrol a couple blocks away. Walmart customers robbed and beaten after dark. Never go to Salisbury after dusk. Or unarmed.

  5. I can’t say I disagree with any of the top 10, but where is Durham? It’s got to be top 50 yet doesn’t appear on the list.

    1. I agree on Durham. Between the gangs and pure thugs on the streets, they have a shooting every other night. Many neighborhoods can’t get a pizza delivered after dark, and the cops are even leery of some areas. It’s a dump with a good college and medical center. Shame.

  6. I guess the per capita calculation left out the biggest cities. Surprised that Henderson didn’t make #1. It’s can’t be from not trying. Rapes in the Wal Mart parking lot must be down.

  7. I’d feel a lot safer staying in Lumberton or Henderson than Salisbury. The crime in Salisbury is rampant! All the business areas and motels are bordered by high crime neighborhoods and the police department is all but non-existent.

  8. There is nothing remotely flawed about these top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in N.C. Choices. These Dangerous City Choices are based on accurate and scientifically valid “per capita” statistics. That’s why cities like Durham and Charlotte are jam packed with crime based on their populations do not make the top 10 list because of their “per capita” statistics. Some unfortunate living in a top ten dangerous city is more likely to be a victim of violent and property crime than they would dwelling in cities like Durham and Charlotte which have their crime homogenized by the existence of safer neighborhoods within their city limits. Violent dumps like Salisbury, Henderson, and Statesville offer a more criminally saturated community.

    I used to live in Salisbury and its streets are run by a slew of gangs dealing heroin, meth, and crack. There is no safe place in that city. Henderson and Lumberton are real winners too. Salisbury’s downtown is seedy dump packed with vacant buildings and closes down promptly a 5 p.m. because shopkeepers want to get off the streets. Break-ins are constant all over the city. Working class people both white and black are selling their homes and moving out. It’s become a horrible place to live. If you have to service an account in Salisbury, pack. One quarter of the population lives in poverty. Salisbury should be at least 3 to 5 on the list, but I won’t quibble. All 10 of those dumps are a must to avoid. Seriously.

  9. Salisbury has a little clique of downtown cult followers who try to portray the over-priced rents as worth it due to the ‘vibrancy’ of business, which is not the case except during monthly festivals. Few businesses can make it because of the lack of safe, convenient parking. And the walk from distant ‘free parking’ is perilous because of the rampant muggings. A lot of the commenters don’t understand the meaning of “per capita” crime, or are just being willfully ignorant. But FBI stats do not lie.

  10. Salisbury had a great Club District plan for West Fisher Street. Then someone had a bright idea for a children’s theater. Early evenings 2/3 of the time, parents’ cars consume all available parking. It has killed restaurant businesses on that end of town because people won’t risk parking at the Depot or behind City Hall, to run the gauntlet passed gangbangers to dine downtown, when two dozen chain restaurants have better lighted, safer parking off I-85.

  11. Clayton?????, Smithfield?????, im sorry but that’s hilarious. Now I could see Smithfield being a somewhat rough place in some parts of that little city but Clayton? I got to get out more then. But over all I really do think Clayton and Smithfield should not be on this list. There is no real crime that’s news worthy from these two.

  12. As for Rocky Mount, compared to 2013, the statistics for 2014 demonstrate:

    A 16.2 percent decrease in property crime.
    A 10.9 percent decrease in violent and dangerous crime.
    A 45 percent decrease in commercial robberies.
    A 16.5 percent decrease in individual robberies.

  13. What happened to Durham on this list? I find it hard to believe it didn’t get slots 1-3 on the “naughty” list all by itself.

  14. Correlate the increase in crime with the racial composition of the towns and don’t be surprised by the results. As the number of white residents decreased, or more specifically the number of black residents increased, the increase in crime is more than a mere causality. Everything they said would happen if we ended segregation has come true. Sad, but true.

    1. It seems to me the increase in heroin in our area is directly related to both the violent crime and property crime rates being so high in the areas around Charlotte. It’s majority white users rob, steal, and commit a whole gamut of crimes to feed their habit. However, heroin does not discriminate like you and there are addicts of all colors suffering out there with little to no access to rehabilitation resources in Cabarrus, Rowan, Union and Gaston counties. If you knew anything about those areas you would know the heroin epidemic has caused a great many white people to clog the jails and criminal system, but being white, they don’t stay behind bars hardly at all compared to our darker complexion friends. Please don’t be the stereotypical racist asshat from the south!

  15. Where’s Durham? Big question why one of the bigger cities/counties is missing from this list??!!!

    durham resident

  16. If Durham and other cities reported their crime stats to the FBI, this list would be very different. Why do they not report? Because left-wingers in charge know who commits the crimes, and are afraid to discuss it publicly. This policy is actually dangerous to unsuspecting travelers as well as citizens.

  17. I would have to agree where is Durham. I would also not even call this reliable because how can you call a place a city with 15000 residents.

  18. Having just moved down to NC, I’ve found I like it a lot down here. I actually live in Lumberton though, and find it appalling that the crime rate has been allowed to clime to the rate it’s at. Where are the police? Why are so many scumbags getting away with daily thefts? And yes, I mean daily! Read the crime reports in The Robesonian – Seems like it’s only a matter of time before my cars are definitely broken into, and possibly my house. What a load of crap! So much for “Southern Hospitality” and what have you. If not for my job transfer bringing me to Lumberton, I’d never have chosen to move here instead of, oh ANYWHERE else in North Carolina. I want to learn the history of my new home, but so far, I’m curious why anybody want’s to call this place home… Where is the public outcry? Where’s the support? Why the massive crime rates? I come from a place where bull$h!t isn’t tolerated. I naively assumed moving to NC would build upon that, but in Lumberton, apparently people are stuck living in fear of scum. Pathetic. Clean up your act Lumberton! It’s must be embarrassing for good people to admit they live here. Just awful. My advice – Stay armed. And train to hit center mass. F*** the oxygen thieves!

  19. Cary Apex and Morrisville were very safe back in the mid 1990’s when I lived around there to about mid 2000’s. Now I seem to see news spots every week about some meth house getting busted or people getting murdered. Yeesh.

  20. Awesomely accurate! I’m not paranoid; Asheboro is as I’ve had it pegged all along! Haha! Ive lived here for many years but fit like a foot in a stolen glove, as I’m just a truthful person 😉

  21. Ha! Ha! No Durham on the list. Very funny people! My son lives in Durham and his home has been broken into 3 times, he has had bullets come thru his window and the police tell him he’s in the better part of that area. The bullets came from several blocks over where they have constant gun violence, he’s west of Briar Creek area. I lived in Durham where you can’t even leave a plant on the porch without it being stolen. I’ve had pocketbooks stolen at home and work, our car was stolen twice and never leave a door unlocked or a window open, you’re asking for it. Durham not on the list, Ha! Ha! Maybe it’s not on the list because we just give up on reporting the crimes, nothing can be done about it. The crime is so abundant the cops can only focus on the serious or immediate urgent ones he told me when my car was stolen.

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