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:
- Laurinburg (tie)
- Statesville (tie)
- Rocky Mount (tie)
- Smithfield (tie)
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.
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.
Basically, if you live in Lumberton, statistically, someone on your street was the victim of a crime last year.
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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