These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2017


We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Old Dominion for 2017.

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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:

  1. Portsmouth (Photos)
  2. Emporia (Photos)
  3. Bedford
  4. Danville (Photos)
  5. Franklin (Photos)
  6. South Boston (Photos)
  7. Richmond (Photos)
  8. Norfolk (Photos)
  9. Fredericksburg (Photos)
  10. Petersburg (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.

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 Virginia for 2017?

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 second release of 2015 data, specifically the 2015 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available for 2016 in September 2017.

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 61 cities in Virginia.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 61 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.

1. Portsmouth

Portsmouth, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 95,877
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 698
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,046
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 3rd in property crimes. Residents had about a 1 in 19.8 chance of being a victim of a property crime.

2. Emporia

Emporia, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,339
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 561
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,019
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 4th most violent crimes in Virginia.

3. Bedford


Population: 6,437
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 466
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,157
Bedford is not the refuge that you might be expecting — it ranks as the 3rd most dangerous city in Virginia.

It has the 8th highest overall violent crime rate.

On the plus side, property crime ranks 2nd in the state, meaning it’s not even in the top 10% of cities in Virginia.

Put differently, property crime isn’t a problem to the same extent violent crime is in the city.

4. Danville

Danville, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 42,210
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 608
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,124
The largest city in Danville city, Danville has experienced a 13% increase in its violent crime rate and a 19% rise in property crime rate between 2013-15.

Folks in Danville had about a 1 in 24.2 chance of being robbed or burnt in 2015, which is just the heavy price you pay for living in Danville.

5. Franklin

Franklin, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,489
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 388
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,383
For a relatively small town, Franklin has had an extensive amount of industrialization over the past 100 years due to it being the previous headquarters of Camp Sawmill.

This level of industrialization may contribute to the higher occurrences of crime within the city, good for a 1 in 18.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

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6. South Boston

South Boston, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,948
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 553
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,837
South Boston placed 6th on our list due, in part, to a 1 in 26.1 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.

7. Richmond

Richmond, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 220,802
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 515
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,916
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 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.

8. Norfolk

Norfolk, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 245,400
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 541
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,668
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.

9. Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 29,422
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 414
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,986
Located in Fredericksburg city, Fredericksburg hasn’t experienced much of a change in its crime statistics recently.

Its relatively poor violent crime statistics went up between 2013-15, while property crime fell by a very small amount to 1,173 occurrences.

10. Petersburg

Petersburg, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 32,647
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 808
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,038
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 264 violent crimes in 2015.

Locking It All Up In Virginia

The latest FBI crime data shows that Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in Virginia for 2017.

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.

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If you’re curious enough, here are the safest cities in Virginia:

  1. Bridgewater
  2. Purcellville
  3. Vienna

For more Virginia reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Dangeroues Cities In Virginia

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Portsmouth 95,877 698 5,046
2 Emporia 5,339 561 5,019
3 Bedford 6,437 466 5,157
4 Danville 42,210 608 4,124
5 Franklin 8,489 388 5,383
6 South Boston 7,948 553 3,837
7 Richmond 220,802 515 3,916
8 Norfolk 245,400 541 3,668
9 Fredericksburg 29,422 414 3,986
10 Petersburg 32,647 808 3,038
11 Ashland 7,353 339 4,052
12 Marion 5,852 427 3,537
13 Galax 6,980 300 4,240
14 Newport News 182,975 433 3,052
15 Colonial Heights 17,770 236 5,036
16 Roanoke 99,827 337 3,822
17 Martinsville 13,667 373 3,036
18 Winchester 27,821 258 3,720
19 Hopewell 22,027 363 2,969
20 Hampton 136,381 280 3,280
21 Bluefield 5,268 170 4,498
22 Charlottesville 45,997 380 2,515
23 Chesapeake 235,273 381 2,415
24 Pulaski 8,869 248 2,796
25 Suffolk 87,062 245 2,665
26 Big Stone Gap 5,421 166 3,578
27 Bristol 16,976 265 2,503
28 Farmville 8,230 170 3,268
29 Lynchburg 79,675 338 2,144
30 Waynesboro 21,384 201 2,665
31 Front Royal 15,184 204 2,515
32 Vinton 8,210 170 2,716
33 Harrisonburg 53,226 223 2,325
34 Radford 17,911 323 1,552
35 Richlands 5,525 180 2,298
36 Wytheville 8,114 160 2,649
37 Covington 5,750 173 2,260
38 Warrenton 9,981 120 2,865
39 Alexandria 152,710 204 1,868
40 Manassas 42,977 211 1,761
41 Woodstock 5,257 114 2,663
42 Smithfield 8,336 227 1,343
43 Christiansburg 22,007 131 2,394
44 Virginia Beach 452,797 138 2,205
45 Culpeper 17,596 159 2,136
46 Fairfax City 24,911 164 1,714
47 Staunton 24,654 146 1,979
48 Abingdon 8,137 122 2,162
49 Leesburg 51,254 163 1,408
50 Falls Church 13,870 144 1,751
51 Strasburg 6,598 136 1,394
52 Salem 25,556 62 2,050
53 Poquoson 11,990 91 1,175
54 Dumfries 5,243 38 1,544
55 Williamsburg 14,915 67 1,307
56 Manassas Park 15,333 78 913
57 Lexington 7,356 81 842
58 Buena Vista 6,575 76 638
59 Vienna 16,640 54 901
60 Purcellville 9,235 54 552
61 Bridgewater 6,029 33 265

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15 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2017

  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.

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