If you call the Gem State home, chances are you’re less worried about safety than people in other states. Idaho has lower crime rates than most of the country, and its safest cities boast some of the lowest rates we’ve seen.
With minimal crime, it’s no surprise that only 35% of the Idahoans we talked to in our 2020 State of Safety study are highly concerned about crime on a daily basis. That’s 11 percentage points below the national average.
At 2.3 incidents per 1,000 people, Idaho’s violent crime rate is significantly lower than the national rate of 3.7. And the good news keeps on coming—Idaho saw just 14.6 property crime incidents per 1,000 people in 2018. That’s about seven points lower than the national rate of 22.0.
Idaho is most worried about mass shootings even though there's never been one there.
Idahoans also experience crime less often than much of the country. Only 2% of study participants reported experience with a violent crime in the past year, and just 14% had a run-in with property crime.
Violent Crime in Idaho: Fear vs. Reality
When it comes to violent crime, Idahoans are equally concerned about physical assault by a stranger and being a victim of a mass shooting. Yet levels of concern for all violent crimes are lower than national averages.
Physical assault by a stranger and mass shootings were each named by 25% of survey respondents as the violent crime that’s most worrisome.
Nationally, 40% are highly concerned about physical assault by a stranger and 38% are most worried about mass shootings.
18% named physical assault as the crime that is most likely to occur, compared to 26% across the US.
Aggravated assault accounted for 71% of all violent crime in the safest cities and 74% across the state.
13% think a mass shooting is likely to happen. That’s 10 percentage points below the national average of 23%.
There were no mass shootings recorded in Idaho between 2014 and 2019, and only 2% of participants said that they (or someone they know) has ever been affected by a mass shooting.
2% reported a personal experience with violent crime in the past year. That’s one point higher than last year, but 10 full points below the national average.
Property Crime in Idaho: Fear vs. Reality
Last year digital security was the top safety concern in Idaho. This year, people feel that theft of digital property is the most likely crime that could happen, but they are more worried about break-ins.
50% reported high or very high concern about someone breaking in when they’re not at home, compared to 62% nationwide.
Burglaries made up 15% of all property crime in the safest cities and 19% of all property crime across the state.
The most prevalent property crime was larceny-theft, accounting for 73% of all property crime statewide, and 81% of the property crimes reported in the safest cities.
48% of respondents reported high concern about property being stolen, but only 24% think it’s likely to happen.
37% believe they are more likely to be a victim of digital theft than any other property crime.
Just 15% of Idahoans use a home security system (compared to 24% nationally). The most common form of protection is a guard dog, with 41%, followed by firearms at 40%.
26% of respondents don’t use any kind of security to protect their property.
14% reported experiencing a property crime in the past year, which is higher than last year’s report of 10%, but still below the national average of 26%.
A Closer Look at Idaho’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.
Rexburg remains number one for the third year in a row.
60% of the cities improved their rank this year.
The biggest move was Emmett, jumping nine places to be named the eighth safest city in Idaho.
30% of the cities dropped in rank this year.
Emmett and Payette both moved into the top 10 this year after landing in the teens last year.
All of the cities beat both national (3.7) and state (2.3) rates for violent crime.
Every city reported fewer than 2.5 violent crime incidents per 1,000 and 80% had fewer than 20 total violent crimes reported.
90% of the cities had zero murders, and there were only two murders total (both in Meridian) reported among the safest cities.
Rexburg and Rathdrum tied for the fewest total number of violent crimes, with five reported each.
All cities are below the national property crime rate of 22.0.
80% are below the state’s property crime rate of 14.6. Moscow and Post Falls went over, but each stayed under 17 property crimes per 1,000.
Hailey had the fewest total property crimes at 21.0, and the lowest property crime rate at 2.5—but a higher violent crime rate (1.7) kept it from overtaking the top spot in the state.
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