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 2021. 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 62 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 Places To Live In Virginia For 2021
If you thought having a a whole bunch of battleships around would make Portsmouth any safer, think again. Portsmouth ranked #1 in both violent and property crime in Virginia for 2021, with an overall crime rate three times higher than the statewide average.
Residents faced a 1 in 105 chance of being the victim of an attack, murder, or rape reported in 2019, so it’s not a bad idea to keep your guard up on the streets of Portsmouth.
You also want to keep your doors locked in Portsmouth because the city had the highest burglary rate in Virginia, with 846 cases recorded over the year.
Galax is known as the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it’s also the gateway to a whole lot of crime. The small city of 6,320 had the highest rate of rape cases in Virginia in 2019 — the reporting year.
Property crime also ranked as the fifth highest in the state, with 255 cases. On the plus side, the vast majority of those were just larceny. And a dozen or so car thefts.
All these fact account for part of the reason Galax featured so high up on our list of the worst places to live in Virginia.
Property crime is all too common in Colonial Heights. Residents had a 1 in 24 chance of being having their stuff stolen or damaged in 2019.
It’s not just stolen bikes and a few broken windows either — Colonial Heights also had the fifth highest rate of rape cases in Virginia for 2019.
Located just south of the Appomattox River from Colonial Heights, Petersburg has a bigger problem with violent crime than its northern neighbor.
Petersburg experienced 19 murders in 2019, which gave it the highest murder rate in Virginia. Overall, residents faced a 1 in 133 shot of being the victim of an attack over the year.
Makes you wonder if the Petersburg National Battlefield Park is a memorial site or a testament to day-to-day life in Petersburg.
The county seat of Smyth County in western Virginia, Marion is a small town of 5,593. Marion spends far less than the national average on its schools and we wonder if there’s a correlation between that and above-average crime rates.
Or if both statistics just reflect a town without enough resources to adequately serve the community. Population data sure supports that theory, considering Marion’s population has dropped at one of the most rapid rates of anywhere in Virginia.
Whatever the full story is, you’d be well-advised to keep your doors locked in Marion, the place with the third highest burglary rate in Virginia for 2019. There also 184 larceny cases reported, so make sure a black bear doesn’t swipe your wallet at Hungry Mother State Park.
Virginia’s 3rd most populous city, Norfolk, also ranks as the state’s sixth most dangerous city.
Violent crime is especially bad in Norfolk, where residents had a 1 in 183 chance of being the victim of an assault, rape, or murder in 2019. That’s the kind of thing that makes it hard to stop and smell the flowers at Norfolk Botanical Garden.
That being said, Norfolk is a city of 242,813, so if you steer clear of the worst neighborhoods in Norfolk, you should be as safe as houses.
Roanoke is the commercial hub of Southwest Virginia and also one of the state’s most dangerous cities.
Property crime is disturbingly high in Roanoke. To give you an idea, a resident living in Roanoke had a 1 in 22 shot of having their stuff stolen or damaged in 2019. And with the fourth highest burglary rate in Virginia, we hope there’s enough security at Roanoke’s museums to stave off any would-be heists.
On top of property crime, Roanoke experienced about one murder a month on average, so keeping your guard up here is just good protocol.
Richmond isn’t just Virginia’s capital city — it’s also the eighth most dangerous place to call home in the Old Dominion. Richmond has been making strides in combating violent crime in recent years, but it still ranks as the sixth most violent place in the state.
That includes 55 murders, giving Richmond the fourth highest murder rate in Virginia. So while you can spend a nice day out at Maymont Park, you’d be well-advised to get home before dark.
On the bright side, if you stick to Richmond’s safest neighborhoods, you should have less to worry about.
You might think that crime is a bigger problem in Boston, Massachusetts, but South Boston, Virginia has much more criminal activity per capita.
A town of 7,601 located in south-central Virginia, SoBo had the second highest overall crime rate in Virginia, about 2.5 times higher than the statewide average. Talk about a lot of work for the South Boston Police Department.
Most of that’s down to property crime, which residents had a 1 in 22 chance of being the victim of in 2019. South Boston did have the second highest burglary rate in the state, after all.
It’s not just petty theft going on in South Boston, either — the town also had the second highest murder rate in Virginia.
Located on the peninsula side of Hampton Roads in the Tidewater region of Virginia, Newport News ranks as the state’s tenth most dangerous city.
While Newport News is home to a the Virginia War Museum, the real violence is going down on the city’s streets. Folks in Newport News had a 1 in 167 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in 2019.
On the bright side, property crime in Newport News ranks as the lowest on this list. Now if they could cut down on aggravated assaults, they’ll be off this list by next year.
Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In Virginia
How we determined the most dangerous cities in Virginia for 2021?
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 2019 data, specifically the 2019 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available in September 2021.
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 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. 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
So what is the most dangerous city in Virginia? After analyzing 62 cities in Virginia, Portsmouth takes the top spot as the most dangerous city in Virginia based on the most recently reported FBI data — 2019.
The latest FBI crime data shows that Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in Virginia for 2021.
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.
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.
Here are the safest cities in Virginia:
- Vienna (Pop. 16,660)
- Dumfries (Pop. 5,265)
- Falls Church (Pop. 15,008)
- Manassas Park (Pop. 17,602)
- Fairfax City (Pop. 24,689)
- Blacksburg (Pop. 44,948)
- Lexington (Pop. 7,107)
- Buena Vista (Pop. 6,156)
- Purcellville (Pop. 10,346)
- Bridgewater (Pop. 6,167)
For more Virginia reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Virginia
- Cheapest Places To Live In Virginia
- Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Virginia
- Safest Places In Virginia
- Worst Cities In Virginia For 2017
The Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia