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10 Most Dangerous Cities in America

Written by | Updated November 22, 2019

Check out the Safest Metro Cities report on a different page.

Safest and Most Dangerous

Big cities and safety have more in common than you might think. Metro counties and cities with populations between 250,000 and 500,000 showed the biggest drop in violent crime between 2016 and 2017—and cities with one million or more residents had the next-biggest decline.

What Makes the Most Dangerous Cities So Crime-Ridden?

Experts continue to debate the precise causes of violent crime, but there are a few factors that pop up consistently. We compared wealth distribution, high school graduation rates, the median age, and ethnic diversity to see if there were any trends that could explain why the most dangerous cities are so crime-ridden. The biggest differences we found between the safest and most dangerous cities are median household income and poverty rates.

Only three of the safest cities have a median income below the national average of $57,652, but 90% of the most dangerous cities do—and Detroit and Cleveland have median household incomes of just $27,000 per year. But when you look at the poverty rate, only two cities among the safest cities are below the national average of 14.6%, and every one of the most dangerous cities is higher.

Interesting Findings

  • Albuquerque moved up from 12th place last year to take the eighth spot on the most dangerous list.
  • Just one western city showed up in the most dangerous list—Oakland, California.
  • 80% of the most dangerous cities have violent crime rates that are three times higher than the national rate of 4.49. The median violent crime rate of the most dangerous metros is 17.05.
  • 40% of the most dangerous cities have property crime rates that are two times higher than the national rate of 27.11. The median property crime rate of the most dangerous metros is 52.82.
  • 90% of the most dangerous cities are below the national median income and 70% have poverty rates above 20% (the national average is 14.6%). Oakland is the outlier when it comes to median household income—its median income is $63,251 compared to the national median of $57,652.
safest violent crime infographic
property crime infographic

America’s 10 Most Dangerous Big Cities

RankCityStatePopulationCity Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)City Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)Median Income
1St. LouisMissouri310,28420.8260.41$38,664
2DetroitMichigan670,79220.5745.41$27,838
3BaltimoreMaryland613,21720.2749.28$46,641
4MemphisTennessee652,76520.0362.98$38,230
5Kansas CityMissouri484,94817.2445.44$50,136
6MilwaukeeWisconsin595,16815.9737.92$38,289
7ClevelandOhio385,35115.5749.16$27,854
8AlbuquerqueNew Mexico561,37513.6973.66$49,878
9IndianapolisIndiana870,78813.3444.12$44,709
10OaklandCalifornia424,91512.9959.83$63,251

Looking for Your City?

How We Picked the Most Dangerous Metro Cities in America

To identify the most dangerous cities in the country, we analyzed FBI crime report statistics and population data for 2017 (the most recent year for which data was available).³ We set a population threshold at 300,000 and higher. Cities that fell below that threshold were excluded, along with cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI.

Cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city. If there was a tie, we also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). To level the playing field, we calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city.

Check out our full methodology to learn more about how we rank the Safest Cities

Sources

1. Gun Violence Archive, “Mass Shootings
2. Gun Violence Archive, “Mass Shootings
3. United States Census Bureau, American FactFinder, “Community Facts”; FBI, Uniform Crime Reporting, “2017 Crime in the United States

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more

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  • ks

    Funny how these cities mostly, actually 1-8 and 10, are run by Democrats. I lived in Albuquerque and in the 60’s and 70’s it was great and safe. NOW since the Democrats have taken over and made it a sanctuary city
    it is the pits. Thank you bleeding heart Liberals who love Illegals more than the Citizens.

  • Mbrown53

    Are you work while you’re watching them sit on a porch? Are you aware that not everyone in these neighborhoods receive government assistance. Anytime one makes blanket statements confounded on personal belief, you know there’s a little prejudice in the room.

  • Raymond Vacca

    Wrong it is absolutely about race. Take top 10 most violent cities and and notice demographic break down by race. Violent cities have higher black percentage rates.

  • MrTroyMercy

    You are a straight up racist because whites are the biggest recipent of government benifits and youre instantly assuming black people don’t work huh? Look at all of the homeless white people in the city …look at the addicts…there are many producyive hard working blavk citizens in detroit so take your ” im not a racist but i don’t like blacks” bullchit….you’re a bigot and i hate you. You’re worse than a pedophile…them people who you sprak of getting FREE BENIFITS are citizens but your race is the biggest recipirnt of it….grow up and miss me with your racist bs. ..

  • MrTroyMercy

    Bytch does it matter what they do you bigoted bytch? You are instantly saying black people don’t work….now youre pussing me off and i welcome you to say this to my face…i will come to you and youre not the only one with guns fam… I freaking hate racism….to imply that blacks don’t work because we go ojtside and siy on our porches irked ne and im ready for whatever with you ppl…f*cking troll.

  • MrTroyMercy

    No you can only be a bigot…. I hate you with a passion….what city are you from? I will cone to you….you are whats wrong with the world and i bet you call yourself a christian too ? HUH? OLD BIGOT. NOW ITS A CRIME WITH PEOPLE SITTING ON THIER PORCH OR GATHERING IN GROUPS…THAT EQUALS LAZY AND NOT WORKING ..2020 MADE ME HATE YOU PPL WITH A PASSION AND QUOTE THAT.

    • DaveH

      Didn’t know they let you out of your rubber room. No, it’s not a crime to sit on the front porch and drink beer and pass jumper cables it just lowers property values.

  • MrTroyMercy

    Stop fucking lying….45 people did not get killed on memorial day…you ppl are just lying to make blacks look bad but everyone who died in chicago isn’t black bit youre posting lies….45 people was not killed on nemeorial day weekend lying azz cave ape

  • http://avoiceformalestudents.com/ Jonathan Taylor

    If that were true, every similarly poor place would have higher crime rates.

    • Disgusting Display of Weakness

      Somebody opined that poverty causes crime, but that crime causes poverty.

  • Lou

    Black people are the problem we all know it the Mexican scourge will continue to plague us until the wall goes up (Trump 2020) but that’s a easy fix. Back on subject the hard headedness of these people is mind boggling just put your pride aside and chill but that won’t happen these fools can’t see the stupidity of their own actions cry all u want call me a racist but it had to be said

  • Bob Dobalina

    It’s about culture and upbringing. Not race or monetary status.

  • John Walker

    no its not, that is called a lie.

  • Back from the dead

    ‘Burque’ is a hell hole.