These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia For 2018


We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Mountain State for 2018.

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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:

  1. Charleston (Photos)
  2. Beckley (Photos)
  3. South Charleston (Photos)
  4. Martinsburg (Photos)
  5. Parkersburg (Photos)
  6. St. Albans (Photos)
  7. Princeton (Photos)
  8. Wheeling (Photos)
  9. Bluefield (Photos)
  10. 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.

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

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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.

Here’s a visualization of the criteria:
Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia Graph

Click To Enlarge

Read on for a detailed look at the 10 most dangerous cities in West Virginia.

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1. Charleston

Charleston, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 49,429
Rank 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.

2. Beckley

Beckley, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 16,940
Rank 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

South Charleston, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 12,957
Rank 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.

4. Martinsburg

Martinsburg, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 17,789
Rank 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.

5. Parkersburg

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 30,913
Rank 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

St. Albans, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,635
Rank 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.

7. Princeton

Princeton, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,017
Rank 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.

8. Wheeling

Wheeling, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 27,486
Rank 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.

9. Bluefield

Bluefield, West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,298
Rank 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.

10. Nitro


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:

  1. Grafton
  2. New Martinsville
  3. Weirton

For more West Virginia reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Dangeroues Cities In West Virginia

City Rank Previous Rank Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
Charleston 1 2 49,429 1,551 7,969
Beckley 2 1 16,940 1,263 7,544
South Charleston 3 3 12,957 702 7,054
Martinsburg 4 4 17,789 455 4,958
Parkersburg 5 11 30,913 666 4,441
St. Albans 6 7 10,635 347 4,569
Princeton 7 5 6,017 698 3,573
Wheeling 8 9 27,486 967 2,433
Bluefield 9 12 10,298 1,097 2,019
Nitro 10 6 6,729 252 4,354
Dunbar 11 8 7,612 394 3,074
Moundsville 12 10 8,644 347 3,563
Vienna 13 19 10,537 189 4,242
Oak Hill 14 15 8,104 209 3,566
Buckhannon 15 16 5,662 176 3,867
Fairmont 16 17 18,733 421 1,756
Charles Town 17 21 6,030 265 2,338
Morgantown 18 13 31,109 286 2,166
Bridgeport 19 14 8,402 190 2,606
Weirton 20 18 19,067 115 1,096
New Martinsville 21 5,190 115 462
Grafton 22 20 5,145 58 97

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12 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia For 2018

  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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