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.
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.
For more Virginia reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Virginia
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In Virginia
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Virginia
Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In Virginia
The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In Virginia For 2020
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.
Coming in 2nd is Danville, a city of over 40,781.
With residents facing a 1 in 188 chance of being the victim of violence in 2018, Danville ranked 3rd for that criteria.
Property crime now ranks 6th in Virginia.
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.
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 ranks in the top 5th worst rates of violent and property crime in the state.
Residents of Galax faced a 1 in 242 chance of being the victim of violence, a rate which steadily increased from 2017-2018.
Property crime did drop by a modest amount during this interval though.
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 is one of the most crime-ridden cities in Virginia.
Violent crime and property crime have become an issue between 2017-2018, which left Marion’s residents with a 1 in 193 chance of being the victim of violence, and a 1 in 30.7 chance of being the victim of theft or arson in 2018.
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 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.
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.
How Is Your Town In ?
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 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:
- Vienna (Pop. 16,660)
- Bridgewater (Pop. 6,125)
- Lexington (Pop. 7,098)
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