These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia For 2019


We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Mountain State for 2019.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2019.

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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 for 2019:

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

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.

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

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, WV

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 48,788
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,172 (3rd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,206 (1st most dangerous)
More on Charleston:  Data | Photos

Charleston ranks as the 1st most dangerous city in West Virginia according to the FBI data.

The city ranks as having the 1st highest property crime rank and 3rd highest violent crime rank in the Mountain State.

Beckley, WV

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 16,862
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 693 (6th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,966 (2nd most dangerous)
More on Beckley:  Data | Photos

Beckley takes the 2nd spot in our analysis of the most dangerous cities in West Virginia.

The rough and tumble nature of the town leaks into the crime stats.

The city ranks 6th for violent crime and 2nd for property crime.

Parkersburg, WV

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 30,475
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 725 (5th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,695 (4th most dangerous)
More on Parkersburg:  Data | Photos

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.

South Charleston, WV

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 12,756
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 572 (7th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,409 (3rd most dangerous)
More on South Charleston:  Data | Photos

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, WV

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 47,933
Rank Last Year:
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 892 (4th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,343 (6th most dangerous)
More on Huntington:  Data | Photos

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.

Martinsburg, WV

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 17,761
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 472 (8th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,526 (5th 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 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, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 27,196
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,220 (1st most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,147 (15th most dangerous)
More on Wheeling:  Data | Photos

Wheeling is way out on Route 26 near Wyoming. If you’re passing through, lock your car doors. Residents here have a 1 in 46.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime, which is the second highest in the state.

Job growth is negative here, which isn’t a good sign. Crime is typically contained on the south end of town.

Princeton, WV

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,935
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 438 (10th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,521 (8th most dangerous)
More on Princeton:  Data | Photos

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.

Bluefield, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,148
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,192 (2nd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,089 (16th 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.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,486
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

The city of over 7,486 ranks as the 10th most dangerous city in West Virginia and has the 12th highest rate of property crime in the state.

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:

  1. Weirton (Pop. 18,870)
  2. Charles Town (Pop. 6,062)
  3. Grafton (Pop. 5,121)

For more West Virginia reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Charleston 48,788 1,172 7,206
2 Beckley 16,862 693 5,966
3 Parkersburg 30,475 725 4,695
4 South Charleston 12,756 572 5,409
5 Huntington 47,933 892 4,343
6 Martinsburg 17,761 472 4,526
7 Wheeling 27,196 1,220 2,147
8 Princeton 5,935 438 3,521
9 Bluefield 10,148 1,192 2,089
10 Dunbar 7,486 467 2,845
11 Moundsville 8,691 299 2,922
12 Bridgeport 8,401 285 3,190
13 Vienna 10,409 211 3,381
14 Buckhannon 5,610 53 4,224
15 Fairmont 18,604 301 1,988
16 Nitro 6,645 210 2,603
17 Oak Hill 8,490 176 2,485
18 Morgantown 31,215 265 1,537
19 Weirton 18,870 111 996
20 Charles Town 6,062 65 1,286
21 Grafton 5,121 0 156

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13 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia For 2019

  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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