Do you live in one of the most dangerous cities in West Virginia?
We all watch the news and see reports on Facebook of the latest crimes that happen in our hometowns. But it can be hard to tell at a big picture level how dangerous our town actually is.
No one wants to feel unsafe, and statistically speaking, odds are that where you live is most likely relatively safe. In order to help the good people of West Virginia — and anyone looking to move to West Virginia — know just how close they are to danger, we took data from the annual FBI report and did some serious analysis.
The data shows that these ten cities are currently the most dangerous in the Mountain State for 2019:
- Charleston (Photos)
- Beckley (Photos)
- Parkersburg (Photos)
- South Charleston (Photos)
- Huntington (Photos)
- Martinsburg (Photos)
- Wheeling (Photos)
- Princeton (Photos)
- Bluefield (Photos)
After analyzing 21 cities in West Virginia, why did Charleston take the top spot?
For the answer to this question and a detailed explanation of the data and analysis we used in creating this ranking, read on.
Or learn more about the safest places in West Virginia.
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In West Virginia
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In West Virginia
Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In West Virginia
How we determined the most dangerous cities in West Virginia for 2019?
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 2017 data, specifically the 2017 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available in September 2019.
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 5,000 in population. That left us with 21 cities in West Virginia.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 21 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 — Charleston.
Read on for a detailed look at the 10 most dangerous cities in West Virginia.
Charleston is also the home to quite a bit of crime.
Despite the fact that violent crime and property crime dropped between 2015-17, Charleston’s crime statistics are still pretty terrible.
In 2017, residents still faced a 1 in 85 chance of being the victim of violence, and a 1 in 3,516 chance of being the victim of a property crime for every year they spent in Charleston city limits.
You have a 1 in 16.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime in Beckley and a 1 in 144 chance of being the victim of a violent crime.
Parkersburg is the fourth largest city in West Virginia, the fourth worst city for property crime, as well as the fourth most dangerous overall.
Known as the Marble Capital of the World and place “where West Virginia began,” Parkersburg ranks 8th worst in violent crime.
On the brighter side, their numbers in both categories have been improving.
Coming in 4th place for most dangerous places in West Virginia is a city that neighbors the state’s capital, Charleston.
Here residents face a 1 in 174 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, and a 1 in 18.5 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.
Huntington is the most populous city in Cabell County.
Huntington experienced a massive rise in violent crime between 2015-17.
Property crime statistics, meanwhile, remained stagnant, with residents facing a 1 in 23.0 chance of being the victim of theft or arson each year — the 6th highest rate in the state.
The largest city in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, and home of the first US post office, Martinsburg, places 6th 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 22.1 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.
Today, Wheeling is the 7th most dangerous city in the state.
Unlike other cities on the list, Wheeling has seen a recent boom in crime, with violent crime going up from 2015-17, and property crime also going up.
Watch your wallet in Wheeling, because there’s a 1 in 46.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime while you’re there.
The county seat of Mercer County, Princeton, WV doesn’t have the same prestige as its collegiate namesake.
In fact, it’s the 8th most dangerous city in the whole state, with residents facing a 1 in 228 shot of being the victim of a violent crime, and a 1 in 28.4 chance for property crime (the 8th highest on this list).
The good news is that these numbers have been falling at a decent rate, so maybe Princeton won’t be on this list (or at least near the top of it) in years to come.
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.
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 467 (9th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,845 (12th most dangerous)
More on Dunbar: Data
Dunbar, West Virginia ranks as having the 9th highest violent crime rate.
While property crime fell by between 2015-17, violent crime rose.
That increase left Dunbar residents with a 1 in 213 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in 2017.
Locking It All Up In West Virginia
The latest FBI crime data shows that Charleston ranks as the most dangerous city in West Virginia for 2019.
We want to point out again that there’s still safes places in Charleston 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:
- Weirton (Pop. 18,870)
- Charles Town (Pop. 6,062)
- Grafton (Pop. 5,121)
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In West Virginia For 2018
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In West Virginia
- 10 Safest Places In West Virginia
- 10 Worst Places To Live In West Virginia
Detailed List Of The Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia