These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2019


We used data and science to identify the most dangerous cities in the Old Dominion for 2019.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2019.

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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 for 2019:

  1. Portsmouth (Photos)
  2. Danville (Photos)
  3. Emporia (Photos)
  4. Roanoke (Photos)
  5. Norfolk (Photos)
  6. Petersburg (Photos)
  7. South Boston (Photos)
  8. Franklin (Photos)
  9. Colonial Heights (Photos)
  10. Newport News (Photos)

After analyzing 58 cities in Virginia, 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.

For more Virginia reading, check out:

Graphing The Most Dangerous And Safest Places In Virginia

Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia Graph

Click To Enlarge

How we determined the most dangerous cities in Virginia for 2019?

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 2017 data, specifically the 2017 Crime In The United States Report. We will update the results when data becomes available in September 2019.

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 58 cities in Virginia.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 58 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.

Portsmouth, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 95,100
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 711 (2nd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,727 (1st most dangerous)
More on Portsmouth:  Data | Photos

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 17.5 chance of being a victim of a property crime.

Danville, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 41,680
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 599 (3rd most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,337 (4th most dangerous)
More on Danville:  Data | Photos

Danville has the 4th worst property crime rate in the state.

Property crime rose between 2015-17, leaving residents of Danville with a 1 in 23.1 chance of being the victim of theft or arson in 2017.

At least violent crime fell during this interval.

Emporia, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,201
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 422 (7th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,287 (5th most dangerous)
More on Emporia:  Data | Photos

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.

Roanoke, VA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 100,027
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 401 (10th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,491 (3rd most dangerous)
More on Roanoke:  Data | Photos

Coming in at number 4 on our list of most dangerous places in Virginia, residents of Roanoke had a 1 in 20.4 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.

Norfolk, VA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 245,190
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 555 (4th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,748 (10th most dangerous)
More on Norfolk:  Data | Photos

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.

Petersburg, VA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 31,739
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 793 (1st most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,402 (13th most dangerous)
More on Petersburg:  Data | Photos

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 252 violent crimes in 2017.

South Boston, VA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,919
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 467 (6th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,763 (9th most dangerous)
More on South Boston:  Data | Photos

South Boston placed 7th on our list due, in part, to a 1 in 26.6 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.

Franklin, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,250
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 363 (16th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,636 (2nd most dangerous)
More on Franklin:  Data | Photos

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 17.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

Colonial Heights, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 17,820
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 375 (14th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,085 (7th most dangerous)
More on Colonial Heights:  Data | Photos

Colonial Heights ranks as the 9th most dangerous city in Virginia.

That’s due to it ranking 14th in violent crimes and 7th in property crimes. Residents had about a 1 in 24.5 chance of being a victim of a property crime.

Newport News, VA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 181,738
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 499 (5th most dangerous)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,041 (17th most dangerous)
More on Newport News:  Data | Photos

Located 15 miles east of Portland, Newport News’s violent crime looks to be an issue.

Violent crime went to 907 occurrences between 2015-17, leaving residents with a 1 in 200 chance of being the victim of violence in 2017.

Though Newport News is the 5th most violent city in Virginia overall, it does only have the 17th most property crime on this list (which still leaves residents a 1 in 32.9 chance of being robbed each year).

Locking It All Up In Virginia

The latest FBI crime data shows that Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in Virginia for 2019.

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:

  1. Vienna (Pop. 16,590)
  2. Blacksburg (Pop. 45,443)
  3. Bridgewater (Pop. 6,119)

For more Virginia reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per Capita Property Crimes Per Capita
1 Portsmouth 95,100 711 5,727
2 Danville 41,680 599 4,337
3 Emporia 5,201 422 4,287
4 Roanoke 100,027 401 4,491
5 Norfolk 245,190 555 3,748
6 Petersburg 31,739 793 3,402
7 South Boston 7,919 467 3,763
8 Franklin 8,250 363 5,636
9 Colonial Heights 17,820 375 4,085
10 Newport News 181,738 499 3,041
11 Marion 5,837 342 4,231
12 Fredericksburg 29,016 372 3,535
13 Winchester 27,715 414 2,482
14 Galax 6,728 282 3,864
15 Bristol 16,795 321 3,346
16 Chesapeake 240,119 418 2,272
17 Hampton 134,929 301 3,234
18 Hopewell 22,723 347 2,622
19 Charlottesville 47,446 389 2,183
20 Bedford 6,622 226 3,533
21 Martinsville 13,383 298 2,951
22 Lynchburg 80,890 354 2,331
23 Ashland 7,722 401 2,072
24 Pulaski 8,799 250 2,977
25 Suffolk 89,922 304 2,481
26 Farmville 8,127 221 2,780
27 Radford 17,641 385 1,343
28 Vinton 8,207 158 2,680
29 Waynesboro 22,004 181 2,399
30 Woodstock 5,272 227 2,143
31 Covington 5,442 312 1,617
32 Culpeper 18,232 246 1,755
33 Big Stone Gap 5,334 112 3,243
34 Manassas 41,995 226 1,876
35 Harrisonburg 53,717 238 1,669
36 Staunton 24,423 143 2,256
37 Richlands 5,365 186 1,752
38 Abingdon 8,066 173 1,748
39 Smithfield 8,492 270 1,083
40 Wytheville 8,084 136 2,102
41 Virginia Beach 454,353 137 1,934
42 Alexandria 158,256 165 1,568
43 Poquoson 11,981 158 1,527
44 Warrenton 9,901 131 1,878
45 Salem 25,624 70 2,165
46 Williamsburg 15,464 155 1,170
47 Orange 5,033 139 1,291
48 Herndon 24,561 154 1,168
49 Fairfax City 24,406 135 1,499
50 Falls Church 14,278 70 1,491
51 Manassas Park 16,158 123 909
52 Lexington 7,034 127 568
53 Strasburg 6,613 105 892
54 Dumfries 5,219 76 900
55 Purcellville 9,779 102 501
56 Vienna 16,590 24 795
57 Blacksburg 45,443 52 745
58 Bridgewater 6,119 16 196

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16 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia For 2019

  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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