10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia

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. It is our fifth time ranking the most dangerous places to live in Virginia and is updated for 2019.

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Apparently there are things more dangerous than being bitten by a blue crab on Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay in Old Dominion, because 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 2019. Honestly, some of these cities seem like the Civil War never left….

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 58 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 Illinois’ cities are bad. We do recommend 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 largest state in terms of population and the 10th oldest state in the country. With numbers like those, there’s bound to be cities filled with grumpy, entitled people constantly popping off. We’re pretty sure they’re harmless, but there are Virginia cities where people are NOT.

To see where these Virginia cities with problems are located, take a look below at our most dangerous cities in Virginia for 2019.

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.

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

The 10 Most Dangerous Places To Live In Virginia For 2019

Portsmouth, VA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility


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.

Review Of Portsmouth by HomeSnacks User

I don’t believe all I read and hear. We have lived in Portsmouth 75 years and love living here.

Danville, VA

Source: Public domain

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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 is the 2nd most violent city in Virginia.

Unfortunately, Danville has experienced a quick and steady rise in its crime in recent years, with both violent and property crime increasing between 2015-17.

In 2017, residents of Danville had a 1 in 166 chance of being the victim of violence.

Review Of Danville by HomeSnacks User

Such a shame about Danville. I lived there in the 1960s, it wasn’t scary then at all.

The mills shut down, the town is slowly dying.

Emporia, VA

Source: Public domain

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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

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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.

Review Of Roanoke by HomeSnacks User

Roanoke is not the best city but Roanoke is history, it’s a place to call home. Every where you go will have it’s trouble, Roanoke is relaxing, laid back and fun homelessness is a big issue here but what is the city doing yo help also- Doesn’t make them bad people I come across them all the time and never once has anything bad happened. ROANOKE IS A PLACE TO CALL HOME..

The Roanoke City Star, the history, science and all of the art around the city.

Norfolk, VA

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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.

Review Of Norfolk by HomeSnacks User

Mixes schools, low crime rate in most areas but higher in south of city, beautiful history area

Ghent and downtown favorites; South Norfolk worst.

Petersburg, VA

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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

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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.

Review Of South Boston by HomeSnacks User

-t’s just a crack head town with a huge MS 13 problem.

Watch out for the run down neighborhoods because that’s where the gang and drug problems are. Believe me I’m from South Boston

Franklin, VA

Source: Public domain

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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

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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 coming in as the 9th most dangerous place in Virginia might surprise some.

But this fact may explain the mind-bogglingly high 1 in 24.5 chance residents faced of being the victim of a property crime in 2017 and the 1 in 265 chance of being the victim of violence.

Newport News, VA

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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

Newport News’s recent explosion of crime makes it the 10th most dangerous place to live in the Old Dominion.

Between 2015-17, both violent and property crime rates nearly tripled, leaving residents with a 1 in 200 chance of being the victim of a violent crime and a 1 in 32.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime in 2017.

If the trend continues, we can expect to see the town of Newport News top this list in a few years’ time.

How Is Your Town In ?

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.

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:

Where Are 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

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

16 thoughts on “10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia

  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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