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.
So what is the most dangerous city in West Virginia? After analyzing 21 cities in West Virginia, Charleston takes the top spot as the most dangerous city in West Virginia based on the most recent FBI data.
For 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
The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In West Virginia For 2019
Charleston is the 1st most violent city in West Virginia.
Unfortunately, Charleston has experienced a quick and steady rise in its crime in recent years, with both violent and property crime increasing between 2015-17.
In 2017, residents of Charleston had a 1 in 85 chance of being the victim of violence.
Beckley has placed 2nd for property crime per capita in the state.
Residents of Beckley faced a 1 in 2nd chance of being the victim of theft or arson in 2017.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, violent crime bumped up between 2015-17, making Beckley the 6th most violent city in West Virginia.
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.
The 5th most dangerous city in West Virginia goes to Huntington.
And much like a walk in a major city park, you need to watch for muggers and property theft as it ranks as having the highest rate of property theft in the Mountain State. You had a 1 in 23.0 chance of being a victim of a property crime in 2017 in Huntington.
It’s not totally clear why the property crime rate is so high. People live spread out, unemployment is relatively high — but not super high — and poverty isn’t as bad as in some other parts of 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.
Wheeling, a city in Marshall County, has seen its crime increase overall for the last few years. According to the FBI, violent crimes have nearly doubled here, and residents have a 1 in 81 chance of being robbed.
Additionally, there were 332 attacks in a city of only 27,196 residents.
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 has more problems — namely crime. It’s the 10th most dangerous city in West Virginia.
Statistically, 1 in 213 people in Dunbar was the victim of a rape, attack or outright killed in 2017. That’s a really large number.
And that’s just residents who actually reported a crime. Chances are it was even higher than that.
How Is Your Town In ?
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.
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)
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