Do you live in one of the most dangerous cities in 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 Virginia — and anyone looking to move to 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 Old Dominion:
- Portsmouth (Photos)
- Marion (Photos)
- Emporia (Photos)
- Danville (Photos)
- Norfolk (Photos)
- South Boston (Photos)
- Petersburg (Photos)
- Roanoke (Photos)
- Colonial Heights (Photos)
- Newport News (Photos)
Why did Portsmouth 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 Virginia.
How we determined the most dangerous cities in 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 62 cities in Virginia.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 62 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. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 most dangerous cities in Virginia.
Read on for a detailed look at the 10 most dangerous cities in Virginia.
Population: 95,813Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 791
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,607
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 2nd in violent crimes and 1st in property crimes. Residents had about a 1 in 17.8 chance of being a victim of a property crime.
Population: 5,956Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 10)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 772
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,382
Marion, Virginia experienced 261 property crimes in 2016, meaning residents had about a 1 in 22.8 chance of being a victim of theft or arson.
That number hasn’t changed much in recent years, but the violent crime rate dropped, making a big difference in Marion’s overall ranking.
Population: 5,382Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 631
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,886
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 6th most violent crimes in Virginia.
Population: 41,686Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 803
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,667
Tiny Danville, statistically, is the 1st most violent city per capita in the entire state of Virginia.
While crimes here skyrocketed in 2015, apparently, local jurisdictions have made progress, as crimes went down in 2016. However, for a town of just over 41,686 people, 335 violent crimes is eye opening. Statistically, 1 in 124 residents was the victim of a rape, attack or was killed last year.
Population: 245,734Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 657
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,913
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.
6. South Boston
Population: 7,944Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 465
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,965
South Boston placed 6th on our list due, in part, to a 1 in 25.2 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.
Population: 32,293Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 740
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,319
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 239 violent crimes in 2016.
Population: 99,978Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 413
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,195
Coming in at number 8 on our list of most dangerous places in Virginia, residents of Roanoke had a 1 in 21.7 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.
9. Colonial Heights
Population: 17,814Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 6)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 325
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,580
Colonial Heights, a city in Colonial Heights city, 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 307 chance of being robbed.
Additionally, there were 58 attacks in a city of only 17,814 residents.
10. Newport News
Population: 181,676Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 466
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,070
Newport News ranks as the 10th most dangerous city in Virginia.
Over 181,676 people jam pack Newport News which must contribute to its high level of property crime (16th highest overall). Violent crime is a bit less of an issue placing 9th overall.
Locking It All Up In Virginia
The latest FBI crime data shows that Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in Virginia for 2018.
However, there will be new data coming out later this year. At that point we can revisit Portsmouth’s status — that is if they haven’t beaten us all up already.
If you’re curious enough, here are the safest cities in Virginia:
- Buena Vista
For more Virginia reading , check out:
- 10 Small Towns In Virginia Where You’d Never Want To Live
- These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Virginia
- These Are The 10 Most Miserable Cities In Virginia
Detailed List Of The Most Dangeroues Cities In Virginia
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