Do you live in one of the most dangerous small towns in America?
We all watch the news with horror when we hear about a crime that happens pretty close by. While a major crime just blocks or towns away from your house would make anyone uneasy, in the long run, most likely, where you live is relatively safe.
We wanted to get the facts straight and dug into the FBI crime data in order to identify the most dangerous small towns with populations under 50,000. That left us with nearly 6,900 places in the U.S. to measure.
The result is the following list of top ten most dangerous:
- South Tucson, AZ
- Lake City, GA
- College Park, GA
- Gallup, NM
- Lumberton, NC
- Bellmead, TX
- Wildwood, NJ
- Florida City, FL
- Ringgold, GA
- Whiteville, NC
Looks like 6 of the 10 cities are in the south, and three of these cities are in Georgia. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked.
How we calculated the most dangerous small towns of America
While there are surveys and public polls on what cities in a state are the most dangerous, we didn’t want to rely on speculation and opinion. Instead, we looked at the hard numbers from the FBI’s 2014 UCR.
Specifically, we analyzed the the number of property crimes and violent crimes per capita in each city. Ranked each city for each criteria and then averaged the ranks to create a dangerous index. The city with the lowest dangerous index was crowned the most dangerous small city in America.
Violent crimes are defined as rapes, murders, robberies and aggravated assaults.
We only looked at cities that have populations of less than 50,000 people as of 2014, which is the last year the full report was available.
We must note that this report is not an analysis of the effectiveness of local police departments. It simply states where crimes occurred most frequently.
1. South Tucson, AZ
Violent crime rank: 10th worst in US
Property crime rank: 4th worst in US
It wasn’t even close. This small city just south of Tucson, had by far, the highest rate of crime per capita in the entire nation.
In South Tucson, there were .18 property crimes per person. That means that statistically, nearly 1 in 5 people within South Tucson city limits was the victim of a property crime in 2014. Wow.
In terms of violent crime, South Tucson is the 10th worst place you could spend an entire year. There were 4 murders here in 2014, which is really, really high for a city of under 6,000 people.
2. Lake City, GA
Violent crime rank: 35th worst in America
Property crime rank: 7th highest in nation
The first of three small towns in Georgia to make this list, Lake City is just south of the busiest airport in the nation – Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. That may or may not be a factor in Lake City’s really high crime.
You have a 6% chance of being the victim of a property crime every year you’re within Lake City limits, and a 1 in 62 chance of being the victim of a violent crime.
3. College Park, GA
Violent crime rank: 14th worst in America
Property crime rank: 28th highest in nation
Part of the Atlanta airport lies within College Park, so the property crimes here might seem a bit high, but still, there were a ton of thefts within College Park city limits in 2014. Lots were undoubtedly car break ins.
That doesn’t explain the sheer number of violent crimes happening here. You have a 1 in 50 chance of being the victim of a rape, attack or even killed here every year you’re within city limits. There were 9 murders in this teeny part of the Atlanta metro area according to the latest FBI data.
4. Gallup, NM
Violent crime rank: 16th worst in America
Property crime rank: 33rd worst in the nation
What’s going on down in little ole’ Gallup, New Mexico? This small city is really isolated along a stretch of I-40 in the northwest part of the state. It’s been well documented that cities that lie within or close to Native American Reservations are extremely dangerous.
We won’t speculate on why reservations are more dangerous, but this is the 16th most violent small town in the nation, where locals had a 1 in 47 chance of being a victim. Property crimes are also sky high here as well.
5. Lumberton, NC
Violent crime rank: 37th worst in America
Property crime rank: 12th worst in the nation
Lumberton is always mentioned when it comes to dangerous places in the state of North Carolina. This smallish place along the South Carolina border is notorious for being a violent place.
There were 11 murders in just 2014 alone, which is by far the highest number within the top 200 most dangerous cities we measured. Meaning there aren’t very many other small towns in America where you have a higher chance of being killed.
6. Bellmead, TX
Violent crime rank: 33rd worst in America
Property crime rank: 27th highest
Yikes if you’re a Baylor University student. This small town borders the Baylor University campus just near Waco.
Both the number of property and violent crimes per person put Bellmead in the top 35 out of nearly 7,000 small towns we measured. Who knew?
If you spent a year here, you’d have a 1 in 9 chance of being the victim of some type of crime every year.
7. Wildwood, NJ
Violent crime rank: 39th highest in America
Property crime rank: 22nd worst
This small coastal community along the Atlantic is a major tourist draw, making the crime numbers stand out like a sore thumb. Still, the fact remains, that there are a ton of thefts and break ins within Wildwood city limits each year, even if many are caused by visitors to the city each year.
In fact, if you spent a year here, you’d have a 1 in 62 chance of being robbed yourself. The average person has 300 Facebook friends. If all of them lived in Wildwood, 5 would have been the victim of a crime in 2014.
8. Florida City, FL
Violent crime rank: 5th worst in America
Property crime rank: 62nd highest in the U.S.
This small town is just south of Homestead, which is also notoriously one of the trouble spots for crime in the nation. Florida City is actually the most violent city to make this list.
Shockingly, 1 in 37 people here was the victim of some type of attack or rape. That’s off-the-charts high. You don’t want to be here in the middle of the day, much less at night.
9. Ringgold, FL
Violent crime rank: 58th highest in America
Property crime rank: 11th worst
Across the board, things are really bleak in Ringgold, Georgia, a teeny spleck of a city near the Tennessee state line along I-75.
You have a 1 in 6 chance of being the victim of some type of crime every year you’re within city limits, statistically. Plus, when it comes to robberies, there are few places in the nation where there are more people victimized each year.
10. Whiteville, NC
Violent crime rank: 56th worst in America
Property crime rank: 16th highest
Rounding out the most dangerous small towns in America is little Whiteville, another southern North Carolina city that’s actually a short drive from Lumberton.
What’s the deal with this part of North Carolina? You have a really high chance, statistically, of being robbed or attacked if you live here. In terms of property crimes alone, you have a 1 in 10 chance of being victimized.
Which takes the charm out of living in the south.
There You Have It
When you’re looking at the small towns in America which have really high property and violent crime numbers according to FBI reporting, this is an accurate list.
Here are the safest small towns in America:
- Fennimore, WI
- Amity, NY
- La Crescent, MN
- St. Charles, MN
- Annandale, MN
Below is a table with the 200 most dangerous small towns in America. You can click here to see the entire list (however, it has nearly 6,900 cities.)
We also wrote about the 10 worst small towns in America, too.
|South Padre Island||12|
|Panama City Beach||51|
|South Salt Lake||126|