The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Pennsylvania For 2021


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

RoadSnacks is reader-supported. When you click through real estate links on our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
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 Pennsylvania and is updated for 2021.

You would think that being the third oldest state in the country, you should’ve had plenty of time to work out your kinks. Well, that’s not the case in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has its fair share of dangerous cities.

And lucky for you, we have the top ten most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania for 2021 broken down below. One might think that most of the problems are centralized around Pennsylvania’s two largest cities: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Surprisingly, Pennsylvania has done a fair job of keeping it’s crazy spread evenly across the state. Some might wonder why we produced this list. Well, one goal is to definitely help people navigate these dangerous cities when trying to make an informed decision on what city they should call home.

Let’s be real, we’re not talking about crossing a street before the pedestrian sign comes on kind of danger. The type of danger we’re talking about gets people on WTAE at six. To compile our list, we looked at violent crimes and property crimes in cities with a population of 5,000. That left us with 121 cities. Folks, 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.

We’re not saying that there aren’t little pockets of goodness in these Pennsylvania cities. There are neighborhoods and shopping centers in these cities that are working hard to make life easier. And it’s not entirely Pennsylvania’s fault. They have the 6th highest population per capita. As with most situations, there’s bound to be problems with that many people: especially that many Pennsylvanians in one area.

To see where these Pennsylvania cities with more issues than Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute are located, take a look below at our most dangerous cities in The Quaker State for 2021.

The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In Pennsylvania For 2021

Chester, PA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 33,905
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,383 (Third most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,005 (Fourth most dangerous)
More on Chester:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

We turn to the greater Philadelphia area to reach Pennsylvania’s most dangerous city, Chester. Chester is also the oldest city in Pennsylvania, so you’d think they’d have figured out how to keep crime down by now.

On the contrary, Chester had the second highest rate of burglaries in the state, with about one taking place each day over a year; quite a staggering rate for a city of just 33,905. Perhaps these thieves are trying to recoup their losses after a day out at the local casino and racetrack.

That doesn’t explain Chester’s second highest place ranking in murders per capita statewide, though, or Chester’s status as the third most violent spot in PA.

Mckeesport, PA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 20,765
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 16)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,531 (Second most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,759 (Sixth most dangerous)
More on McKeesport:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Located a half-hour southeast of Pittsburgh, McKeesport ranks as the second most dangerous place to call home in Pennsylvania.The overall crime rate in McKeesport is 150% higher than the national average, and more than 250% higher than the statewide average.

McKeesport had the second highest violent crime rate in Pennsylvania, with 7 murders in 2019. That’s enough for anyone to seek sanctuary at the nearby Renziehausen Park Rose Garden.

McKeesport isn’t exactly low on property crime either. To give you an idea, McKeesport had the highest rate of burglaries in the state, so it’s not the sort of place where it’s okay to leave your door unlocked.

3. Pottstown

Pottstown, PA

Population: 22,705
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 717 (Eighth most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,105 (Third most dangerous)
More on Pottstown:

Coming in as Pennsylvania’s third most dangerous city is Pottstown. While Pottstown had the least violent crime per capita of cities in the top five, it does have one troubling statistic — the second highest rate of rape cases in the state. That’s about three cases per month, which, for a borough of just 22,705, is all too common.

Pottstown also had the third highest property crime rate in the state. Maybe the local Steel River Playhouse should stage a production of Crime and Punishment to educate residents on the perils of a criminal life.

Pottstown is located about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Wilkinsburg, PA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 15,389
Rank Last Year:
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 779 (Sixth most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,618 (Ninth most dangerous)
More on Wilkinsburg:  | Cost Of Living

The Wilkinsburg Police Department have their work cut out for them. That’s because the borough has the highest murder rate in PA, with 11 murders occurring over 2019 — crazy high for a place with only 15,389 people.

On top of that, Wilkinsburg averaged more than one property crime each day of the year and had the third highest burglary rate in Pennsylvania. Those numbers are enough to put both Wilkinsburg’s violent and property crime rates in the top ten statewide.

Wilkinsburg is located less than 10 miles east of Pittsburgh.

New Kensington, PA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 12,273
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 15)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 529 (13th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,648 (Eighth most dangerous)
More on New Kensington:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Situated on the Allegheny River just northeast of Pittsburgh, New Kensington ranks as the fifth most dangerous place in Pennsylvania.

Folks in New Ken had a 1 in 37 chance of being the victim of a property crime in 2019, so it’s a city where you have to be on guard for porch pirates.

New Kensington also reported 65 violent crimes, so just about every week, one unlucky resident found themselves the victim of an attack.

Harrisburg, PA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 49,195
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 11)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 900 (Fourth most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,172 (17th most dangerous)
More on Harrisburg:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital city, may have a lower overall crime rate than Philadelphia, but it’s staggering amount of violent crime lands it on this list.

Harrisburg had the eighth highest rate of rape cases in the state for 2019. Additionally, there’s a murder in Harrisburg just about every month, giving the city the fifth highest murder rate in Pennsylvania. All good reasons to hurry home from Riverfront Park once the sun starts going down.

And Harrisburg doesn’t exactly redeem itself with infrequent property crime — the city had the sixth highest burglary rate statewide.

Wilkes-Barre, PA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 40,722
Rank Last Year: 33 (Up 26)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 594 (12th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,092 (19th most dangerous)
More on Wilkes-Barre:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Located about a half hour southwest of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre ranks as the seventh least safe to live in Pennsylvania.

There were 616 cases of larceny in Wilkes-Barre in 2019, so you’d be well-advised to keep your winning streak quiet after a big night at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Wilkes-Barre also had the fourth highest burglary rate in Pennsylvania, so it’s not a bad idea to invest in extra security for your home here.

Wilkes-Barre also had the unfortunate distinction of having the tenth highest rate of rape cases in the state.

8. Swatara Township

Source: Public Domain

Population: 26,643
Rank Last Year: 28 (Up 20)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 285 (28th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,950 (Fifth most dangerous)
More on Swatara Township:

Swatara Township is the least violent place to feature on this list, but when it comes to property crime, I don’t envy the workload of the Swatara Township Police Department.

Swatara Township experienced the fifth highest rate of property crime in Pennsylvania for 2019, with more than two property crimes happening each day, on average. The vast majority of those cases were larceny, so keep an eye on your valuables when you’re going about your business in Swatara Township.

Swatara Township is located a short drive east of Harrisburg.

9. Darby Township

Source: Public Domain

Population: 9,256
Rank Last Year: 129 (Up 120)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 734 (Seventh most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 1,901 (28th most dangerous)
More on Darby Township:

Situated southwest of Philadelphia’s downtown, Darby Township comes in as the ninth most dangerous spot in Pennsylvania. Darby Township wasn’t even in the top 100 most dangerous places to live statewide last year, so 2019 might just be a fluke. Either that or residents became so enamored with their tours of Eastern State Penitentiary that they decided to move into a prison full-time.

Seriously, though, Darby Township had the seventh highest murder rate and 46th highest rate of rape cases in Pennsylvania for 2019. That’s partly because Darby Township is the smallest place on this list, but that’s not going to make residents feel much better about living in the seventh most violent place in the whole state.

Allentown, PA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 121,855
Rank Last Year: 49 (Up 39)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 386 (20th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,283 (15th most dangerous)
More on Allentown:  | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Pennsylvania’s third-biggest city, Allentown, comes in as the state’s tenth least safe place to live.

At least, between the baseball at Coca Cola Park and all the events at the PPL Center, Allentown residents have a lot of entertainment options to take their mind off the city’s high crime rate.

Allentown had the seventh highest burglary rate in Pennsylvania and residents had a 1 in 43 shot of being the victim of any property crime in 2019. On the bright side, Allentown is among the least violent places on this list, with the lowest murder rate.

Still, you might consider moving to one of Allentown’s best suburbs instead of living in the dangerous city itself.

Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In Pennsylvania

Most Dangerous Cities In Pennsylvania Graph

Click To Enlarge

How we determined the most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania cities over 5,000 in population. That left us with 121 cities in Pennsylvania.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 121 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 Pennsylvania — Chester. 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 Pennsylvania.

Locking It All Up In Pennsylvania

So what is the most dangerous city in Pennsylvania? After analyzing 121 cities in Pennsylvania, Chester takes the top spot as the most dangerous city in Pennsylvania based on the most recently reported FBI data — 2019.

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

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

What are the circumstances that make these Pennsylvania cities this way? Maybe not enough jobs, low wages, drugs, gangs; and in PA’s case, the war between Steeler and Eagles fans?

We’re not entirely sure. But one thing we are sure about is that our number one most dangerous city in Pennsylvania is Chester.

These dangerous Pennsylvania cities could definitely use a hug. So, if you’re into the whole hugging thing, or you’re just curious to see if your city made the list, take a look at our list below. And if you don’t see your city there, head to the bottom.

Learn more about the safest places in Pennsylvania.

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 Pennsylvania:

  1. East Brandywine Township (Pop. 9,123)
  2. West Vincent Township (Pop. 5,887)
  3. Collegeville (Pop. 5,115)
  4. Dallas Township (Pop. 9,354)
  5. Northampton Township (Pop. 39,171)
  6. Upper Providence Township, Delaware County (Pop. 10,437)
  7. Lower Salford Township (Pop. 15,534)
  8. Millcreek Township, Lebanon County (Pop. 5,783)
  9. Buckingham Township (Pop. 20,279)
  10. Luzerne Township (Pop. 5,896)

For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:

The Most Dangerous Cities In Pennsylvania

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Chester 33,905 1,383 3,005
2 McKeesport 20,765 1,531 2,759
3 Pottstown 22,705 717 3,105
4 Wilkinsburg 15,389 779 2,618
5 New Kensington 12,273 529 2,648
6 Harrisburg 49,195 900 2,172
7 Wilkes-Barre 40,722 594 2,092
8 Swatara Township 26,643 285 2,950
9 Darby Township 9,256 734 1,901
10 Allentown 121,855 386 2,283
11 Carnegie 7,828 332 2,299
12 Scranton 77,323 1,550 1,742
13 Athens Township 5,077 236 3,309
14 Chambersburg 21,131 279 2,323
15 Stowe Township 6,141 472 1,986
16 Penn Hills 40,809 404 2,009
17 Erie 95,834 496 1,895
18 Selinsgrove 5,962 335 2,063
19 Crafton 6,178 194 2,719
20 Lebanon 25,959 250 2,033
21 Butler 12,901 379 1,775
22 Altoona 43,429 607 1,554
23 Allegheny Township, Blair County 6,512 337 1,750
24 Norristown 34,430 493 1,577
25 Warren 9,054 662 1,480
26 Plymouth 5,780 795 1,366
27 South Strabane Township 9,464 137 4,268
28 Wilson 7,822 268 1,840
29 Hanover 15,707 235 1,909
30 Lansdowne 10,621 169 2,297
31 Lehighton 5,309 433 1,488
32 West Manchester Township 18,860 143 2,545
33 Indiana 12,974 678 1,094
34 Catasauqua 6,619 211 1,782
35 Caln Township 14,363 194 1,817
36 Swissvale 8,652 196 1,722
37 Wyomissing 10,504 171 1,894
38 Sandy Township 10,445 239 1,512
39 Springettsbury Township 26,888 104 2,547
40 West Norriton Township 15,650 242 1,450
41 Robinson Township, Allegheny County 13,711 123 2,064
42 Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County 25,238 289 1,085
43 Lancaster Township, Lancaster County 17,176 122 1,996
44 Palmyra 7,609 459 801
45 Mechanicsburg 8,994 144 1,601
46 Upper Chichester Township 16,925 165 1,565
47 Rostraver Township 11,005 72 2,226
48 Bristol Township 53,508 173 1,405
49 Tyrone 5,160 174 1,337
50 Newberry Township 15,885 132 1,605

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.