According to our 2020 State of Safety study, 56% of Florida residents express high or very high concern about their safety on a daily basis. That’s 10 percentage points above the national average and four points higher than Florida reported last year.
Tragedies like the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland are likely contributors to the state’s heightened concern for general safety. State of Safety respondents revealed that 6% had been personally affected by a mass shooting at some time in their life. Despite the loss of 17 lives in Parkland, the city’s overall violent crime rate still remained low at 1.1 incidents per 1,000.
Mass shootings are outlier events that cause unfathomable damage, but they aren’t necessarily indicative of the general safety of a city or state.
40% of Florida residents think that physical assault is the most likely crime to happen.
Overall, Florida’s crime rates are slightly higher than the national rates for both violent and property crime. Florida had 3.8 violent crimes per 1,000 people in 2018, versus 3.7 nationwide. When it comes to property crime, Florida saw 22.8 incidents per 1,000, compared to 22.0 nationally.
Violent Crime in Florida: Fear vs. Reality
Physical assault by a stranger is the top violent crime worry in Florida, and the state’s level of concern is higher than the national average. Florida respondents to our State of Safety survey also think that assault is the most likely crime that could occur.
50% named assault by a stranger as their biggest violent crime concern, compared to 40% nationwide.
Floridians also think that assault by a stranger is more likely to happen than any other violent crime, claiming 40% of responses. Across the US, 26% think they are most likely to be assaulted by a stranger versus other violent crimes.
Aggravated assault was the most common violent crime among the safest cities, with 2,559 incidents, or 65%, of all violent crimes in those cities. Statewide, aggravated assault accounts for 68% of all reported violent crimes.
15%—the same number as last year—reported personal experience with violent crime in the past year. That’s three percentage points higher than the national average of 12%.
Property Crime in Florida: Fear vs. Reality
Florida worries most about a break-in when they are not at home. That’s also the property crime that survey participants felt was most likely to happen to them.
66% cited someone breaking in when they’re not at home as their top property crime concern, compared to 62% nationwide.
43% also believe they are most likely to fall victim to a break-in than any other property crime, including property being stolen (larceny-theft).
Security systems are the number one way people protect their property in Florida, with 36% of respondents using one, followed by security cameras and firearms, with 25% each.
30% of study participants said they don’t use any form of security on their property.
Burglaries accounted for just 11% of all property crime among the safest cities and made up 15% of all reported property crime across the state.
Larceny-theft is the most pervasive property crime in Florida, making up 77% of all property crime in the state—but only 31% of respondents named property being stolen a top concern.
26% reported experiencing a property crime in the past year. That matches the national average of 26%, but is a statewide increase from last year’s report of 18%.
A Closer Look at Florida’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.
Marco Island moved from number five last year to claim the top spot with a violent crime rate of 0.3 incidents per 1,000 and six total violent crimes reported in 2018.
29 cities (58%) improved their rank year over year.
18 cities (36%) dropped in rank year over year.
The Village of Pinecrest is brand new to the list this year, debuting at 47 with a violent crime rate of 1.3 and property crime rate of 23.8.
All of the cities are below both state (3.8) and national (3.7) violent crime rates.
98% of the cities have a violent crime rate of fewer than three incidents per 1,000.
Key Biscayne, last year’s top city, dropped to third but still had the least number of reported violent crimes—five—and none were murder or rape.
50% of cities reported zero murders.
90% of the cities are below both national (22) and state (22.8) property crime rates.
Nine cities had fewer than 10 property crimes per 1,000.
Marco Island had just 5.4 property crime incidents per 1,000 and fewer than 100 total reported.
Weston, the number two city, has the lowest property crime rate at 5.2, even though there were 374 total property crimes reported.
Mass Shooting Definition:
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