These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2018

We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Old Dominion for 2018.

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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. Marion (Photos)
  3. Emporia (Photos)
  4. Danville (Photos)
  5. Norfolk (Photos)
  6. South Boston (Photos)
  7. Petersburg (Photos)
  8. Roanoke (Photos)
  9. Colonial Heights (Photos)
  10. 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.

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 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.

Here’s a visualization of the criteria:
Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia Graph

Click To Enlarge

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

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1. Portsmouth

Portsmouth, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 95,813
Rank 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.

2. Marion

Marion, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,956
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 10)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 772
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,382
Located in Smyth County, Marion hasn’t experienced much of a change in its crime statistics recently.

Its relatively poor violent crime statistics went up between 2014-16, while property crime fell by a very small amount to 261 occurrences.

3. Emporia

Emporia, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,382
Rank 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.

4. Danville

Danville, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 41,686
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 803
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,667
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 2014-16.

Folks in Danville had about a 1 in 27.3 chance of being robbed or burnt in 2016, which is just the heavy price you pay for living in Danville.

5. Norfolk

Norfolk, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 245,734
Rank 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

South Boston, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,944
Rank 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.

7. Petersburg

Petersburg, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 32,293
Rank 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.

8. Roanoke

Roanoke, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 99,978
Rank 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

Colonial Heights, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 17,814
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 6)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 325
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,580
Colonial Heights is the most populous city in Colonial Heights city.

Colonial Heights experienced a massive rise in violent crime between 2014-16.

Property crime statistics, meanwhile, remained stagnant, with residents facing a 1 in 21.8 chance of being the victim of theft or arson each year — the 4th highest rate in the state.

10. Newport News

Newport News, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 181,676
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 466
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,070
Newport News took the 10th spot on our.

While violent crime isn’t so much of an issue (it ranks 9th out of 62), property crime seems to be pretty prevalent as it ranks 16th overall in that category.

Newport News has a relatively high population density, which might contribute to the above average property crime rate.

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:

  1. Bridgewater
  2. Purcellville
  3. Buena Vista

For more Virginia reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Dangeroues Cities In Virginia

City Rank Previous Rank Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
Portsmouth 1 1 95,813 791 5,607
Marion 2 12 5,956 772 4,382
Emporia 3 2 5,382 631 4,886
Danville 4 4 41,686 803 3,667
Norfolk 5 8 245,734 657 3,913
South Boston 6 6 7,944 465 3,965
Petersburg 7 10 32,293 740 3,319
Roanoke 8 16 99,978 413 4,195
Colonial Heights 9 15 17,814 325 4,580
Newport News 10 14 181,676 466 3,070
Fredericksburg 11 9 28,823 360 3,608
Hopewell 12 19 22,204 463 2,886
Bluefield 13 21 5,247 228 5,050
Hampton 14 20 135,504 326 3,431
Charlottesville 15 22 46,979 521 2,613
Franklin 16 5 8,423 284 3,680
Galax 17 13 6,858 306 3,207
Pulaski 18 24 8,855 361 2,834
Ashland 19 11 7,559 317 2,844
Chesapeake 20 23 236,570 409 2,536
Farmville 21 28 8,159 232 2,843
Bedford 22 3 6,556 167 4,331
Lynchburg 23 29 80,215 371 2,246
Winchester 24 18 27,363 222 2,835
Radford 25 34 17,504 474 1,805
Suffolk 26 25 88,342 278 2,423
Martinsville 27 17 13,553 206 2,700
Wytheville 28 36 8,097 197 2,766
Vinton 29 32 8,266 217 2,588
Bristol 30 27 16,908 218 2,555
Front Royal 31 31 15,193 289 2,172
Manassas 32 40 42,267 291 1,928
Waynesboro 33 30 21,464 186 2,264
Culpeper 34 45 17,733 242 1,906
Woodstock 35 41 5,277 170 2,330
Christiansburg 36 43 22,134 158 2,597
Harrisonburg 37 33 52,972 220 2,074
Big Stone Gap 38 26 5,378 92 2,863
Staunton 39 47 24,399 168 2,164
Virginia Beach 40 44 453,017 154 2,176
Leesburg 41 49 53,016 205 1,546
Alexandria 42 39 155,319 184 1,801
Abingdon 43 48 8,105 135 2,208
Herndon 44 24,806 205 1,535
Falls Church 45 50 14,124 191 1,550
Covington 46 37 5,570 143 2,172
Richlands 47 35 5,443 146 2,039
Warrenton 48 38 9,953 120 2,160
Williamsburg 49 55 15,256 163 1,507
Salem 50 52 25,396 94 2,075
Poquoson 51 53 11,975 167 1,427
Strasburg 52 51 6,622 151 1,192
Fairfax City 53 46 24,173 95 1,683
Smithfield 54 42 8,418 83 1,793
Manassas Park 55 54 15,912 150 1,005
Lexington 56 57 7,264 137 1,060
Blacksburg 57 44,528 96 918
Vienna 58 59 16,679 41 1,013
Dumfries 59 56 5,263 0 1,425
Buena Vista 60 58 6,576 45 836
Purcellville 61 60 9,547 31 565
Bridgewater 62 61 5,939 16 286

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16 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2018

  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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