California’s Safest Cities of 2023

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The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the ninth annual Safest Cities report.

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When it comes to safety, daily concern continues to be the California state of mind. From those we surveyed, 62% of Californians feel a high daily level of concern for their safety. That's a 16% jump year over year and 23% higher than the national level of high daily concern. Californians were second in the nation for highest concern over property crime, fifth in the nation for concern over package theft, and sixth for overall concern about their daily safety.

Just one in two Californians say they feel safe in their state. And 4 in 10 increased their safety and security measures in 2021—the seventh highest in the country.

In this report

2023 concern vs. experience with crime in California

Higher-than-average levels of concern in California don't necessarily coincide with higher reports of personal experience with different types of crime. Property crime in general, and package theft specifically, were the top crime concerns of Californians, with 64% of respondents worrying about each daily. Despite that high concern, Californians reported 11% fewer personal run-ins with property crime overall. But incidents of package theft were 10% higher in the Golden State compared to the rest of the US. 

After a steep decline in reported experience with property crime in 2020, reports jumped again in 2021, rising from 15% to 24%. But it's not all bad news. California has the sixteenth lowest reported experience with property crime in the nation. 

Experience with violent crime was on par with the national average of 15%, although that's a five point jump year over year (both nationally and statewide). Unfortunately, gun violence experience rose 34% year over year for Californians, to 14% overall—two points higher than the national average of 12%.

Top crime concerns in California

We asked California residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if Californians are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.

Image: SafeWise. Past 12 months=12 months prior to survey.

View the complete 2022 State of Safety report.

Violent crime in California: Fear vs. reality

Californians are highly concerned about their safety and have the crime rates to back it up, yet only 34% use personal protection (US 39%). However, that's a nine point increase in personal protection year over year.

  • 59% of Californians said they are highly concerned about violent crime happening to them—that’s 10 percentage points higher than the US average.
  • California is one of only 15 states that saw a dip in violent crime year over year in 2021, the last year for which we have complete FBI data.
Despite drops in both violent and property crime statewide in 2020, 71% of Californians believe that crime is increasing in their state.

Attitudes about gun violence and personal safety in California

2022 is the third consecutive year California has seen an increase in the number of mass shooting incidents, rising to 50 total incidents—five more than the state saw in 2021.

  • Concern about gun violence rose 8 points year over year, from 49% in 2021 to 57% in 2022.
  • California is the seventh most concerned state when it comes to gun violence, with 57% of Californians worrying about it daily, versus 47% of all Americans.
  • 34% of Californians use some type of personal protection. Pepper spray is used most often, with 59% carrying it. Concealed carry firearms are used least often, with 26% using them for personal safety.
  • 18% of Californians use firearms to protect their property compared to the national average of 30%.
  • 50% say their personal safety has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (US 44%).

Image: SafeWise

Property crime in California: Fear vs. reality

Property crime rates in California dropped steadily year over year through 2020, but those living in the state reported more concern about property crime than any other crime category.

  • Statewide, the property crime rate fell by 2 incidents per 1,000 people in 2020.
  • California saw a higher proportion of burglaries than the rest of the US, with burglaries making up 17% of all property crimes versus 16% nationwide.
  • 78% of Californians use some form of property protection—a 9-point rise year over year. 
  • Security cameras are the most popular form of property security (47%), followed by guard animals (43%).
  • 38% say the security of their property has been affected by the pandemic (US 28%).

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2022 California crime rates

California didn't provide enough data to the FBI this year so we're unable to update state crime rates. Here's the latest data available, from the 2022 reporting year:

California’s violent crime rate held steady year over year, avoiding the spike seen across most of the country. The Golden State saw 4.4 violent crime incidents per 1,000 people—exceeding the national rate of 4.0 but avoiding an increase over the previous reporting year.

California continued to see a decline in its property crime rate, falling nearly 9% from 23.4 incidents per 1,000 to 21.4. Again, California’s crime rate is higher than the national rate of 19.6, but it’s trending down year over year.

For better crime reporting in California in the future, we recommend telling local lawmakers and law enforcement agencies that this information matters to you.

Bar chart of violent and property crime rates per 1,000 people where the national average is 4.0 violent crimes per 1,000 people and 19.6 property crimes per 1,000 people.

Image: SafeWise

How to make a safe home anywhere

Whether your city made our list or not, we encourage everyone to be proactive about home security. One of the best ways to stop a burglary before it happens is to add a home security system.

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Find out which companies we recommend for every budget and lifestyle in our roundup of the Best Home Security Systems—and learn the basics with our guide on Everything You Need to Know About Home Security

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Find the safest cities in each state

Click on the state image or dropdown menu below to check out the safest cities for each state.

How we determined the safest cities

Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.

Related articles on SafeWise

Endnotes and sources

FBI Crime Data Explorer, "Documents & Downloads." Accessed February 6, 2023.

  • 2021 and 2020 Crime in the United States Annual Reports
    • Offenses Known to Law Enforcement
  • 2021 NIBRS Estimation Tables

FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, "Offenses Known to Law Enforcement [2019]." Accessed February 6, 2023.

Bureau of Justice Statistics, "National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)." Accessed February 6, 2023.

US Census Bureau, "2021: ACS 5-Year Estimates Subject Tables." Accessed February 6, 2023.

US Census Bureau, "2021: ACS 5-Year Estimates Detailed Tables." Accessed February 6, 2023.

SafeWise, "2022 State of Safety survey." Accessed February 6, 2023.

Gun Violence Archive, "General Methodology." Accessed February 6, 2023.

Gun Violence Archive, "Past Summary Ledgers." Accessed January 3, 2023.

Gun Violence Archive, "Congress."

  • 2022 totals: Accessed January 3, 2023.
  • 2021 and 2020 totals: Accessed December 19, 2022.
Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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