10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2020

We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Old Dominion for 2020.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. It is our fifth time ranking the most dangerous places to live in Virginia and is updated for 2020.

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Apparently there are things more dangerous than being bitten by a blue crab on Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay in Old Dominion: Virginia has its fair share of dangerous cities.

Gone are the days that parents can let their children run wild until the street lights come on. Heck, parents shouldn’t let their kids out of their sight in our most dangerous cities in Virginia for 2020. You must be wondering, how does one navigate these dangerous Virginia cities when trying to make an informed decision on where you should call home?

We did the work for you.

In order to compile our list, we looked at violent crimes and property crimes in cities with a population of 5,000. That left us with 63 cities. Folks, the cities that made our list have robberies happening in broad daylight, car jackings, and daily shootings. There are neighborhoods in these cities that you shouldn’t drive thru and there are areas that you definitely shouldn’t be in after dark. We’re not saying that there aren’t little pockets of goodness in these dangerous cities or that all of the neighborhoods and shopping centers in these Virginia cities are bad. We do recommend, however, that you spend some time studying them before deciding where to plant your roots.

We know it’s not entirely Virginia’s fault. They are the 12th most populous state in the country and the 10th oldest state in the country. With numbers like these, there’s bound to be cities filled with grumpy, entitled people constantly popping off. We’re pretty sure they’re usually harmless, but there are Virginia cities where people are NOT. To see where these Virginia cities with problems are located, take a look below.

The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2020

  1. Portsmouth
  2. Danville
  3. Richmond
  4. Roanoke
  5. Galax
  6. Emporia
  7. Marion
  8. Petersburg
  9. South Boston
  10. Norfolk

What are the circumstances that make cities this way: not enough jobs, low wages, people just don’t want to work, prisons, drugs; and in Virginia’s case, road rage caused by Washington, D. C’s. rush hour?

We’re not entirely sure. But one thing we are sure about is our number one most dangerous city in Virginia is Portsmouth.

The Virginia cities on our most dangerous list could definitely use some TLC. If you’re looking for a challenge, or you’re just curious to see if your city made the list, take a look at our list below. And if you don’t see your city there, head to the bottom.

Learn more about the safest places in 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 Virginia reading, check out:

The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In Virginia For 2020

Portsmouth, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 94,218
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 794 (1st most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,282 (1st most dangerous)
More on Portsmouth:  Data | Photos

Home to a large navy facility and, it’s name sake, a large port, these institutions may contribute to the to large incidence of crime in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth ranked 1st in violent crimes and 1st in property crimes. Residents had about a 1 in 18.9 chance of being a victim of a property crime.

Danville, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 40,781
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 529 (3rd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,001 (6th most dangerous)
More on Danville:  Data | Photos

Danville ranks as the 2nd most dangerous city in Virginia according to 2018’s data.

While there’s still a 1 in 25.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime in Danville, their crime statistics in both categories have been falling steadily over recent years.

Richmond, VA

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Population: 229,927
Rank Last Year:
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 517 (5th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,830 (7th most dangerous)
More on Richmond:  Data | Photos

Richmond has been dealing with violent crime since the mid 1980s when it experienced its first spike in murder rates. It has, successfully, been dealing with the problem ever since and has seen its violent crime rates drop over the past 15 years.

That being said, it still has the 5th most violent crimes occur per resident of any place in Virginia with a 1 in 193 chance of being the victim of a violent crime.

Roanoke, VA

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Population: 100,042
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 426 (11th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,432 (3rd most dangerous)
More on Roanoke:  Data | Photos

Coming in at number 4 on our list of most dangerous places in Virginia, residents of Roanoke had a 1 in 20.6 chance of being the victim of a crime.

Acting as a commercial hub for Southwest Virginia, the freight rail industry is a major component of Roanoke’s economy. This industry may also contribute to the higher than average crime rate of the city.

Galax, VA

Source: Public domain

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Population: 6,559
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 9)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 411 (13th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,451 (2nd most dangerous)
More on Galax:  Data | Photos

Galax ranks as the city with the 13th violent crime rank and 2nd property crime rank.

Residents of Galax had a 1 in 242 chance of being the victim of a violent crime and a 1 in 22.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime in 2018.

Emporia, VA

Source: Public domain

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Population: 5,184
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 501 (7th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,703 (9th most dangerous)
More on Emporia:  Data | Photos

While Emporia is a known speed trap with rigorous enforcement of speeding laws, it is also a relative hot bed for the occurrence of crime.

As the FBI aggregates crime data based on reporting from local municipalities, it wouldn’t surprise us if Emporia ranks highly simply because the police department does an excellent job of reporting crimes that occur within its city limits.

Emporia has the 7th most violent crimes in Virginia.

Marion, VA

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Population: 5,615
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 516 (6th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,259 (13th most dangerous)
More on Marion:  Data | Photos

Marion earns a 7th place ranking overall.

Between 2017-2018, violent crime and property crime increased, leaving Marion residents with a 1 in 30.7 chance of being the victim of theft or arson in 2018.

Petersburg, VA

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Population: 31,568
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 709 (2nd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,901 (17th most dangerous)
More on Petersburg:  Data | Photos

Petersburg is an important transportation hub in the state of Virginia. It houses both CSX and NX rail systems, in addition to being a stop for Amtrak. There are also a plethora of major interstate highways that run through the city.

The sheer volume of people passing through Petersburg probably contributes to the high occurrence of violent crime within the city. There were 224 violent crimes in 2018.

South Boston, VA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,721
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 362 (16th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,338 (4th most dangerous)
More on South Boston:  Data | Photos

South Boston placed 9th on our list due, in part, to a 1 in 23.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

The main attraction in the town is the South Boston Speedway and it’s not too far of a stretch to think that the visitors for races contribute to the crime rate in the city more so than the full time residents.

Norfolk, VA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 244,347
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 464 (9th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,463 (11th most dangerous)
More on Norfolk:  Data | Photos

Kind of like a semi, underachieving older brother, Norfolk has slightly less violent crime per person and substantially less property crime per person.

Again, the large incidence of crime in this city can probably be attributed to the outsize number of people coming through the port. And, like all cities, there are rougher sections and nicer sections.

Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In Virginia

Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia Graph

Click To Enlarge

How we determined the most dangerous cities in Virginia for 2020?

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 2018 data, specifically the 2018 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available in September 2020.

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 Virginia cities over 5,000 in population. That left us with 63 cities in Virginia.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 63 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 Virginia — Portsmouth. Any ties went to the smaller city. You can download the data here.

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

Locking It All Up In Virginia

The latest FBI crime data shows that Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in Virginia for 2020.

We want to point out again that there’s still safes places in Portsmouth 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 Virginia:

  1. Vienna (Pop. 16,660)
  2. Bridgewater (Pop. 6,125)
  3. Lexington (Pop. 7,098)

For more Virginia reading, check out:

Where Are The Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia?

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Portsmouth 94,218 794 5,282
2 Danville 40,781 529 4,001
3 Richmond 229,927 517 3,830
4 Roanoke 100,042 426 4,432
5 Galax 6,559 411 4,451
6 Emporia 5,184 501 3,703
7 Marion 5,615 516 3,259
8 Petersburg 31,568 709 2,901
9 South Boston 7,721 362 4,338
10 Norfolk 244,347 464 3,463

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

18 thoughts on “10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2020

  1. I think we are really not getting a apples to apples review…
    Per capita…just saying
    Bogus story, to say the least…

    1. That’s the problem when you make judgements based solely on numbers with no experience in the actual area. I’m an NN resident, and I agree that we are worse then all these other cities.

  2. NO WAY, should Tappahannock, Virginia be on this list. I moved to Tappahannock when I was about three years old. It is and as always been a wonderful place to live. There has never been any type of high crime of by kind there that warrants us to be on this list. We are a small town with lots of love and compassion for one another. Although I don’t live there anymore, I frequent the area often as my parents still live there. I love my hometown and am very disturbed by this report.

    1. Actually the majority of the towns and cities listed are not high density nor are the black communities. What they are unfortunately as a majority are rural areas that were heavily reliant on single source factories that closed. Thereby destroying their local economies. Whether it was Dan River, Uniroyal or DOD contractors, if a local economy is built on and around a specific company and it closes and there is no contingency plan this is the end result.

    2. Appalachia, VA is the only one that is predominately Caucasian, but it’s an incredibly depressed area since Obama closed so many coal mines and mining is all they know + there is no town/city close for the people to pursue an alternative. Moreover, all they’d have to do is commit possibly two property crimes to be on the list, look at the population.
      I am stunned the writer of this article would consider this place since it doesn’t even have it’s own school district/police force or anything. They share everything with Wise County.
      There are two more that are about 50/50 Roanoke, and Tapahanach has about 50% people of color and 48% Caucasian and 2% Hispanic. However, you are right on target when it comes to the rest of the towns/cities. Personally, I feel he was grasping at straws when he put Appalachia and Tappahannock in the article. He felt he had to have at least two towns/cities predominately caucasian to make the article seem fairer. OBTW, the word Tappahannock is pronounced (TAPP’-ah-HANN’-ock) Tappahannock.
      Richmond (I live) is 54% people of color, and the remaining towns/cities are either higher or about the same. So the person who wrote it’s not based on the racial makeup of the towns/cities is not altogether correct.
      And for those of you that are offended by my comment, all I can tell you is read the statistics across the country. The crime rate among men of color is three times higher than any other race in America.
      Admittedly, it could be some of the other factors in the article, but being one who’s very familiar with Richmond and Petersburg, I would have to agree more with your analysis.

  3. in Norfolk, gunshots are so common that no one calls them in, and 24 hours a day we hear sirens up and down Little Creek rd. And really: Newport News may have snatched the Murder Capitol title from Petersburg; gang/drug violence is worse there than it is here in Norfolk. pretty spot-on article.

  4. I live in Lynchburg actually in the city. We hear sirens every night. There are shootings and stabbings every week and Channel 13 doesn’t report any of it. Channel 7 out of Roanoke lets people know whats going on. I think Lynchburg in general needs to be better informed. There was a shooting at the hospital last night.

  5. “Home to a large navy facility and, it’s name sake, a large port, these institutions may contribute to the to large incidence of crime.”

    What exactly is meant by this ? Are you suggesting Portsmouth is a sh!thole because of the Navy and yard birds (civilian contractors)?

  6. if you are thinking about moving or visiting Ashland, don’t. its full of herion addicts and meth heads that just want to rob you for your money. its also the drug capital of virginia and the police don’t do a fucking thing about it.

  7. How in the world is Norfolk below Portsmouth and Newport News? I lived in Hampton Roads for 10 years and went to school at Old Dominion. No way is this correct.

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