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:
- Charleston (Photos)
- Beckley (Photos)
- South Charleston (Photos)
- Martinsburg (Photos)
- Parkersburg (Photos)
- St. Albans (Photos)
- Princeton (Photos)
- Wheeling (Photos)
- Bluefield (Photos)
- Nitro (Photos)
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.
How we determined the most dangerous cities in West Virginia for 2018?
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 2016 data, specifically the 2016 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available for 2017 in October 2018.
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 22 cities in West Virginia.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 22 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.
Read on for a detailed look at the 10 most dangerous cities in West Virginia.
Population: 49,429Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,551
Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,969
Charleston is no stranger to our lists as it ranks as the second poorest city in West Virginia and appears in the middle of the list of the worst places to live. And it would make sense that crime contributes to its placement on both of those lists.
In this particular case for the city of over 49,429, the combination of high property crime (1st highest in the state on a rate basis) and violent crime (1st highest) led to the top overall spot of most dangerous city in West Virginia.
Population: 16,940Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,263
Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,544
Beckley has the 2nd highest rate of violent crime, giving it a 2nd place danger ranking overall.
Folks in Beckley had a 1 in 79 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in 2016, a 5% increase from 2015.
Property crime went up during this interval, giving a Beckley resident a 1 in 13.3 chance of being the victim of theft or arson in 2016.
3. South Charleston
Population: 12,957Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 702
Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,054
Coming in 3rd place for most dangerous places in West Virginia is a city that neighbors the state’s capital, Charleston.
Here residents face a 1 in 142 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, and a 1 in 14.2 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.
Population: 17,789Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 455
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,958
The largest city in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, and home of the first US post office, Martinsburg, places 4th 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 20.2 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.
Population: 30,913Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 6)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 666
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,441
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.
6. St. Albans
Population: 10,635Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 347
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,569
According to the data, St. Albans is the 7th most dangerous city in West Virginia, with comparatively high rates of violent and property crime.
Like Elkins, St. Albans has also seen a 50% rise in violent crime over a 2 year period, yet violence is still much more abundant in Elkins.
Population: 6,017Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 698
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,573
The county seat of Mercer County, Princeton, WV doesn’t have the same prestige as its collegiate namesake.
In fact, it’s the 7th most dangerous city in the whole state, with residents facing a 1 in 143 shot of being the victim of a violent crime, and a 1 in 28.0 chance for property crime (the 10th 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.
Population: 27,486Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 967
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,433
A smaller city on this list, Wheeling has experienced some wild swings in crime in recent years.
While instances of violent crime fell to 266 between 2014-16, property crime now stands at 15th worst.
If they could get the same magic working for property crime as they have for violence, Wheeling may one day be the idyllic place its residents want it to be.
Population: 10,298Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,097
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,019
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.
Population: 6,729 Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 252
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,354
Nitro is the smallest city to make this list.
Violent crime rose between 2014-16, leaving residents a 1 in 395 chance of being the victim of violence in 2016 (a rate that would earn a top 10 spot in most states).
Nitro’s already horrible property crime statistics also got worse in these years, going up between 2014-16.
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 2018.
However, there will be new data coming out later this year. At that point we can revisit Charleston’s status — that is if they haven’t beaten us all up already.
If you’re curious enough, here are the safest cities in West Virginia:
- New Martinsville
For more West Virginia reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In West Virginia
Detailed List Of The Most Dangeroues Cities In West Virginia