Our 2020 State of Safety survey revealed that 58% of Californians are worried about their safety on a daily basis. That’s 12 percentage points higher than the national average of 46%. Californians also reported higher levels of experience with crime than most of the nation.
California is 26% more concerned about their safety than the national average.
The state’s violent crime rate remained stable year over year, reporting 4.5 incidents per 1,000 people for the second year in a row. That’s higher than the national violent crime rate of 3.7. Property crime decreased this year to 23.8 incidents per 1,000, compared to 25.1 last year. That’s higher than the national property crime rate of 22.0.
Violent Crime in California: Fear vs. Reality
Murder is the state’s biggest violent crime concern even though murder makes up just 1% of all violent crime in California.
54% of State of Safety respondents cited murder by a stranger as thier highest violent crime concern. Nationwide, only 36% share that fear.
In 2018, there were 42 murders reported among the safest cities—that’s 0.8% of all violent crimes.
Despite fear of murder, Californians think being robbed on the street is more likely to actually happen.
Robbery made up 29% of all the violent crimes reported among the safest cities, and 31% of all violent crime in the state.
For the second year, Californians reported higher levels (16%) of personal experience with violent crime, compared with national reports of 12%.
Property Crime in California: Fear vs. Reality
California reports both higher concern about and more personal experience with property crime than much of the country. Someone breaking in when the resident is not home was named both the most concerning property crime and the most likely to happen.
70% of Californians are highly concerned about break-ins, compared to 62% nationwide.
56% named a break-in the most likely property crime, versus 38% nationally.
38% of State of Safety respondents experienced a property crime in the past 12 months (26% nationwide).
Californians have more home security systems than most of the country, with 34% reporting they use one.
Despite the higher number of people with security systems, California is on par with the national average of people who don’t use any form of protection for their property, 29%.
Just 13% reported using firearms for protection—less than many other states.
Burglaries made up 18% of the property crimes reported by the safest cities.
Larceny-theft was the most common property crime in California, claiming 72% of all property crime reported among the safest cities, and 66% across the state.
A Closer Look at California’s Safest Cities of 2020
For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
68% of the safest cities saw increases in ranking year over year.
Hollister showed the most improvement jumping 89 spots this year, followed by Elk Grove, which climbed 75 places.
Danville remains the safest city in California for the third consecutive year, reporting only 16 violent crimes in 2018.
All of the safest cities beat both national (3.7) and state (4.5) violent crime rates, and no safest city reported more than three violent crime incidents per 1,000.
60% of the cities reported zero murders, and 88% had one or fewer murders.
SafeWise uses the GVA definition of a mass shooting: “If four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter, that incident is categorized as a mass shooting based purely on that numerical threshold.”
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