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:
- Portsmouth (Photos)
- Danville (Photos)
- Emporia (Photos)
- Roanoke (Photos)
- Norfolk (Photos)
- Petersburg (Photos)
- South Boston (Photos)
- Franklin (Photos)
- Colonial Heights (Photos)
- 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.
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
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.
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.
Coming in at number 2 on our list of most dangerous places in Virginia, residents of Danville had a 1 in 20.3 chance of being the victim of a crime.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
The 9th most dangerous city in Virginia goes to Colonial Heights.
And much like a walk in a major city park, you need to watch for muggers and property theft as it ranks as having the highest rate of property theft in the Old Dominion. You had a 1 in 24.5 chance of being a victim of a property crime in 2017 in Colonial Heights.
It’s not totally clear why the property crime rate is so high. People live spread out, unemployment is relatively high — but not super high — and poverty isn’t as bad as in some other parts of the state.
The commercial hub of northwestern Virginia and the surrounding four corners region, Newport News is the last city to make the cut.
Newport News’s 2017 violent crime statistics ranked as the 5th most in Virginia with a 1 in 200 chance of being the victim of a violent crime.
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:
- Vienna (Pop. 16,590)
- Blacksburg (Pop. 45,443)
- Bridgewater (Pop. 6,119)
For more Virginia reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Virginia
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Virginia
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Virginia
- 10 Safest Places In Virginia
- 10 Worst Cities In Virginia For 2017
Detailed List Of The Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia
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