10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia For 2020


We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Mountain State for 2020.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. It is our fifth time ranking the most dangerous places to live in West Virginia and is updated for 2020.

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If you’ve ever watched Morgantown’s News 12 at six or Parkersburg’s crimestoppers at ten, then you know what many West Virginians already know: the Mountain State has some pretty dangerous places.

Do we think it’s because expensive tolls are breakin’ people? 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 West Virginia for 2020 before you make any life changing decisions.

How do we know? We consulted the numbers. In total, we analyzed 31 cities. We looked at the FBI’s latest crime report for violent crime and property crime statistics for every place with over 2,000 residents. We discovered that West Virginia has some pretty interesting statistics when it comes to violent and property crime compared to the national average. West Virginia 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 30,000 residents.

Now, it’s not all bad in West Virginia. The state’s good angel is definitely looking out for the state’s safest cities. The ying to that yang, however, is that West Virginia has its fair share of dangerous cities too; and folks, they’re pretty dangerous. And if you guessed that most of West Virginia’s problems are centered around the state’s largest cities, you guessed right. Cities like Huntington are losing their war on crime.

Want to know the rest of the most dangerous cities in West Virginia that could use a hug? Keep reading.

Here are the 10 most dangerous cities in West Virginia for 2020:

  1. Beckley (Photos)
  2. Charleston (Photos)
  3. Dunbar
  4. Moorefield (Photos)
  5. South Charleston (Photos)
  6. Nitro (Photos)
  7. Martinsburg (Photos)
  8. Vienna (Photos)
  9. Bluefield (Photos)
  10. Wheeling (Photos)

It’s not lost on us that many of West Virginia’s cheapest places are also the state’s most dangerous–this is usually how it works. And this is definitely what is happening in West Virginia’s number one most dangerous city: rent is cheap, jobs are scarce, and crime is high.

So, where is the most dangerous place in West Virginia for 2020? That would be, Beckley.

If you want to know where the rest of the most dangerous places in West Virginia are located, take a look at the list below; and if you don’t find what you’re looking for there, head to the bottom.

Learn more about the safest places in West Virginia.

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

For more West Virginia reading, check out:

Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In West Virginia

Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia Graph

Click To Enlarge

The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In West Virginia For 2020

Beckley, WV

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 16,234
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 905 (2nd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,149 (2nd most dangerous)
More on Beckley:  Data | Photos

Beckley experienced a drop in its property crime rate between 2017-2018.

That’s a difference of residents having about a 1 in 15 shot of being the victim of theft or arson at the beginning to a 1 in 19.4 shot in 2018.

Violent crime, meanwhile, remained at around the same level.

Charleston, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 47,470
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 697 (5th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,010 (1st most dangerous)
More on Charleston:  Data | Photos

Charleston isn’t the worst in state in terms of either violent or property crime statistics, but bad rankings in each earn it the title of the 2nd most dangerous city in the Mountain State.

The good news is that instances of property crime dropped between 2017-2018, but the bad news is that violent crime rose in the same time period.

That left Charleston residents with a 1 in 143 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in 2018, making the city the 5th most violent place in West Virginia.

Review Of Charleston by HomeSnacks User

There are positives and negatives about the city. It can be beautiful in the good places, and it is exceptional in uniqueness and even the dining options.

The city is home to the cultural shenanigans of the state.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,262
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 7)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 605 (6th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,117 (5th most dangerous)
More on Dunbar:  Data

A city of Kanawha County, Dunbar’s ranked as the 3rd most dangerous city in West Virginia.

With regards to crime, Dunbar has little to celebrate of late, with violent and property crime rates each going up by roughly 11% between 2017-2018.

There’s now a 1 in 21.2 chance of being the victim of a crime.

Moorefield, WV

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,417
Rank Last Year:
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 827 (4th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,854 (10th most dangerous)
More on Moorefield:  Data | Photos

Moorefield is the smallest city to make this list.

And this city in West Virginia has been making great strides to get off this list altogether — the violent crime rate fell between 2017-2018.

That’s means residents have a 1 in 120 chance of being a victim of violence in 2018.

South Charleston, WV

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 12,357
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 380 (10th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,669 (4th most dangerous)
More on South Charleston:  Data | Photos

Coming in 5th place for the most dangerous places in West Virginia is a city that neighbors the state’s capital, Charleston.

Here residents face a 1 in 262 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, and a 1 in 21.4 shot for property crime.

Property crime has been pretty consistent lately, while violent crime is on an upward trend, meaning it may overtake some of the other cities in a few years if the situation continues.

Nitro, WV

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 6,509
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 10)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 384 (9th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,979 (6th most dangerous)
More on Nitro:  Data | Photos

Nitro ranks as the 6th most dangerous city in West Virginia. It ranks 9th for violent crime and 6th for property crime (both per capita).

Overall, you had about a 1 in 22.9 chance of being the victim of crime in 2018.

Martinsburg, WV

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 17,428
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 315 (12th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,098 (9th most dangerous)
More on Martinsburg:  Data | Photos

The largest city in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, and home of the first US post office, Martinsburg, places 7th for the most dangerous place in the state.

As far as violent crime goes, the chance of falling victim to property crime is a 1 in 32.3 chance.

As one of the only cities on this list with a growing population, Martinsburg has seen moderate decreases in its crime over the past few years as well.

Review Of Martinsburg by HomeSnacks User

I couldn’t agree more with this artical. Good job. I have spent time in Hutington, Clarksburg, Keyser, Bluefield, Beckley and currently live in Martinsburg. Each of these towns are all holes.

Vienna, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,306
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 5)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 223 (16th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,405 (7th most dangerous)
More on Vienna:  Data | Photos

Tiny Vienna, statistically, is the 16th most violent city per capita in the entire state of West Virginia.

While crimes here skyrocketed in 2017, apparently, local jurisdictions have made progress, as crimes went down in 2018. However, for a town of just over 10,306 people, 23 violent crimes is eye opening. Statistically, 1 in 448 residents was the victim of a rape, attack or was killed last year.

Bluefield, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 9,789
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 939 (1st most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 1,052 (25th most dangerous)
More on Bluefield:  Data | Photos

Located on the southern edge of West Virginia, Bluefield has been nicknamed “Nature’s Air Conditioned City.”

While that sounds nice, the 6th place ranking in violent crime sounds much more sinister.

The 1 in 187 chance of being the victim of a violent crime may be one reason why the population of Bluefield has been halved since the 50’s.

Wheeling, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 26,855
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 852 (3rd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 1,195 (24th most dangerous)
More on Wheeling:  Data | Photos

Wheeling is the 10th most dangerous city in West Virginia, and places 24th for property crime.

Though the city has seen a 12% drop in property crime in recent years, anyone in Wheeling still faced a 1 in 83.7 chance of being robbed in 2018 when within city limits.

Violent crime is relatively high, and the numbers aren’t getting better or worse, but the 1 in 117 chance of being the victim of violence makes Wheeling pretty dangerous.

Review Of Wheeling by HomeSnacks User

Wheeling is a relatively safe, small town located in a tri-state area of the Ohio Valley within 60 minutes of Pittsburgh, PA with the nearest international airport.

The waterfront of downtown can also be lively in the summer with various music events. The Center Market area is a cute, trendy spot with a local brewery, a wine bar, a hair salon, a coffee shop, a creperie and some antiques shops. Don’t miss Ogelbay Park, a wonderful resort with upscale dining, golf, tennis, and more and the Festival of Lights at Christmas.

How Is Your Town In ?

How we determined the most dangerous cities in West Virginia 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 cities over 2,000 in population. That left us with 31 cities in West Virginia.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 31 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 West Virginia — Beckley. 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 West Virginia.

Locking It All Up In West Virginia

The latest FBI crime data shows that Beckley ranks as the most dangerous city in West Virginia for 2020.

We want to point out again that there’s still safes places in Beckley 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 West Virginia:

  1. Charles Town (Pop. 6,060)
  2. Weirton (Pop. 18,542)
  3. Wellsburg (Pop. 2,560)

For more West Virginia reading, check out:

Where Are The Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia?

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Beckley 16,234 905 5,149
2 Charleston 47,470 697 6,010
3 Dunbar 7,262 605 4,117
4 Moorefield 2,417 827 2,854
5 South Charleston 12,357 380 4,669
6 Nitro 6,509 384 3,979
7 Martinsburg 17,428 315 3,098
8 Vienna 10,306 223 3,405
9 Bluefield 9,789 939 1,052
10 Wheeling 26,855 852 1,195
Download The Entire West Virginia Ranking Data

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.

13 thoughts on “10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia For 2020

  1. I live in Parkersburg. This is interesting because the heroin is over coming our city. It’s getting worse every year. I moved here from Youngstown Ohio so I could have a family and raise them in a safer place. But this is how it all starts. It’s a sad reality but unless we take our city back it’s going to end up just like my home town. Trust me you don’t want that.

  2. “The 1 in 187 chance of being the victim of a violent crime may be one reason why the population of Bluefield has been halved since the 50’s.”

    The population decreased because of the loss of extractive industry and railway employment.

    Coal killed Bluefield, not violent residents.

    The uptick in violence (personal and property) is because undereducated, poor(er) people without hope are left with little opportunity.

    Truthfully, the state of the State rests squarely on politicians, the influence of industry, and manipulated residents. Our troubles are the result of economic influence.

  3. How in the world did Beckley not make this list!? There is a robbery or shooting there almost everyday. This list is a joke.

  4. I live in Princeton, and although we do have some crime here, I hardly think it should be #1. Most of what you hear from WVVA 6 (West Virginia Vehicle Advertisements, hehe) comes from Beckley.

  5. I can only conclude that these “findings” are totally either biased or statistics that are used are as totally screwed! They list Beckley as the first worst place to live in WV and it doesn’t even make the top 10 for most dangerous. Does that make sense? I also conclude that since WV has the one of- or at least the lowest crime rate in the nation (look that one up) then our danger rate is so much less than everyone else! Thank you.

  6. I have found from other readings on this blog forum that the site dedicates itself to finding dire statistics. Not only from WV, but other States as well. I can’t imagine they are making many people happy about where they live! I am still very happy to live in Princeton, WV.

  7. Martinsburg should have been number one, because of our heroin problem. It is so bad out interstate highway I-81 is called the heroin highway to mention we are called little Baltimore because of the drug problem. At middle schools in Martinsburg when ever South or North wins a basketball championship you can oftenly find needles, crack, and weed. At South in the 6th grade, there has been three drug busts. Also, every day, there is always a fight.

  8. I live in moundsville, just south of wheeling. The drug addiction here is getting worse by the day, but definitely not crime ridden enough to make this list!!!

  9. The way out of addiction, crime, and poverty is Christ. The way into poverty, crime, and addiction is a belief in money, the media, and big government.
    People make their own decisions every day and the results of bad choices are all too plain to see.
    Stop worshiping electronics and sleeping with your neighbor’s husband or wife as the case may be. # 1 Best thing to do is to teach your children to be obedient and Love the Lord. If not, you will pay the ultimate price. Our nation was made strong by honest hard working people, and the opposites are tearing us apart.

    1. Well said! Be obedient and Love the Lord. We need to fight against the lawsuits that want to prevent the teaching about god in our schools and embrace the fact that some schools still include him. Without him our nation is doomed! I would love to see a chart of the crime rate since prayer in schools became illegal.

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